I've been a bit quiet, as I've been wrapping up one research project, applying for grad schools, and getting ready for a trip.
First, the research project. The hypothesis is: "just learning something, without external rewards, can be fun; furthermore, the things to be learned can easily be turned into a game". I've developed this simple game called "Sea Salt" to test this hypothesis by offering different versions to different players, recording how long they are engaged, and recording their answers to a survey afterwards. We've run one study, but not found the results we expected, so it's currently a work in progress while we determine what to do next.
Second, grad schools. I'm applying to the University of Washington, Georgia Tech, Carnegie Mellon Human-Computer Interaction Institute, MIT Media Lab, Stanford, and the University of Toronto, to start as a PhD student in fall 2012. The first two apps are in, while the others are ready to go and just awaiting the opening of the online applications.
Third, this trip. I'll be gone from tomorrow until grad school starts in 2012, traveling around Asia, a bit of Australia, and eastern Europe. More details on my travel blog, if you're interested. So I'm on a bit of a research hiatus, and I hope to jump back into it next year as a full time PhD student.