Kwan Hong Lee Thesis Defense

September 2, 2011


MIT Media Lab, E14-633


It is an open question how our day-to-day decisions will be affected by the always-on connection to our social networks via mobile devices. People have difficulty with choices that involve delayed utility. The immediacy effect of virtues and vices theorized by Daniel Read has shown that people value long-term and short-term utilities differently at the moment of decision making, with preferences for short-term choices that may end up costing in the long-term (vices). This work presents an empirical inquiry into the effect of just-in-time social influence in human decision making in the hope that these social forces can be utilized to nudge people towards decision making that has long-term benefits while thwarting the forces of the marketers. The thesis proposes a design and implementation of the just-in-time social cloud using mobile phones as platforms for just-in-time social influence. An Open Transaction Network was developed to generate just-in-time social networks based on the transactions shared by people in the context of commerce. The Open Transaction Network was extended to several systems to conduct real-world experiments involving real choices aimed at understanding transaction behaviors in the social network and the impact of the just-in-time social cloud at various scales.
Results show that the mobile commerce environment could be significantly impacted by augmenting the current methods of mobile payment with social network-based services that can guide our choices. The Open Credit Card Framework achieves this by using transactions as triggers to applications that facilitate just-in-time decisions or reflections. Different manifestations of the just-in-time social cloud resulted in different outcomes along the dimensions of taste, price, and time to decision. The Open Transaction Network can also be used to filter when and what mobile advertisements people receive to suit their habits and impulses. Additionally, social connections with similar transactions can help propagate and filter behavioral influences through different manifestations of the just-in-time social cloud.


Alex 'Sandy' PentlandPattie Maes

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