AC News

General AC news and announcements

Welcome to the exhibition: Ambitious Co-creation - Agora Center 2002-2016

The University Museum’s exhibition Tuloksiin yhteisvoimin - Ambitious Co-creation presents the phases and achievements of the Agora Center research unit active in 2002–2016.

Agora Center was a multidisciplinary and networked independent institute, which operated at the University of Jyväskylä until the structural reorganisation of 2016. The unit focused on the research and development of information society and human-oriented ICT applications and services. The Center’s activities were based on active cooperation between the public sector, the business world and different organisations.

With its innovative operating methods, Agora Center promoted interdisciplinary research and practical application of research results. The unit produced various publications and innovations that have had a significant societal impact both in Finland and abroad.

The exhibition presents the activities of Agora Center activities with photos and showpieces, as well as publications and video material produced by the unit. Visitors also have an opportunity to test the Ekapeli game and its Graphogame language versions developed at Agora Center.

The exhibition is located in Kipinä, the gallery for changing exhibitions in the Soihtu exhibition centre from 18 May to 30 September 2017. The Soihtu exhibition centre in the S building in Seminaarinmäki is open Wed–Fri 12–5 p.m. and Sat 12–4 p.m. The exhibition is free.

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November 2016 issue of Human Technology now published

The new issue of the online journal Human Technology has been published. This issue comprises manuscripts that were submitted independently to our journal. Beginning January 1, 2017, the role of publisher of the journal Human Technology will be moved from the Agora Center to the Open Science Center at the University of Jyväskylä because of internal university restructuring. Day-to-day operations and ongoing open access will continue for Human Technology's without interruption.

You can access the issue at


From the Publisher

Change in Human Technology’s Publisher: Continued Focus on Human–Technology Research
Pasi Tyrväinen

From the Editor in Chief

Change and Continuity
Pertti Hurme

Original Articles

Immersion Revisited: A Review of Existing Definitions of Immersion and Their Relation to Different Theories of Presence
Niels Christian Nilsson, Rolf Nordahl, & Stefania Serafin

Expert Views on Current and Future Use of Social Media Among Crisis and Emergency Management Organizations: Incentives and Barriers
Matti Haataja, Anne Laajalahti, & Jenni Hyvärinen

Detecting Falls at Home: User-Centered Design of a Pervasive Technology
Marc-Eric Bobillier Chaumon, Bruno Cuvillier, Salima Body, & Florence Cros

Bodystorming for Movement-Based Interaction Design
Elena Márquez Segura, Laia Turmo Vidal, & Asreen Rostami

Algorithmic Reflections on Choreography
Pablo Ventura & Daniel Bisig

As noted above, a call for papers is in process for a future special issue in Human Technology: SADE: Semiotics + Art and Design Experience. The scope of this thematic issue involves the mechanisms of semiotics in art and design, particularly the interrelations and significance that art, design, and technology have for one another. The deadline for submissions through Human Technology’s journal management system is 15 January, 2017. More information is available on the journal's website and you are encouraged to share this information to colleagues who may be conducting research in this topic area.

We ask that you please forward information on our journal to all of your colleagues who might be interested in the topics within this issue or wish to submit a paper for either the thematic issue or for an open submissions issue of Human Technology. The link to our journal management system ( is provided for the submission of manuscripts for publication consideration.

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A special issue of Human Technology on Human Technology Choreographies now available

We are pleased to announce that the newest issue of the online journal Human Technology is now online. This thematic issue, titled Human–Technology Choreographies: Body, Movement, and Space, is the first of two focusing on the impact of the instrumental value, specifically movement, of and on design and use of technological objects.

The second issue on this topic will be published in several months. Both issues have been guided by guest editors Antti Pirhonen, Department of Teacher Education, University of Jyväskylä, Finland; Kai Tuuri, Department of Music, University of Jyväskylä, Finland; and Cumhur Erkut, Department of Architecture, Design, & Media Technology, Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Denmark. This first issue focuses specifically on the topics of designing by moving and moving by design. You can access the issue at


Guest Editor's Introduction

Choreographies: An Emerging Perspective for Interaction Design
Antti Pirhonen, Kai Tuuri, & Cumhur Erkut

Original Articles

Ways of Walking: Understanding Walking's Implications for the Design of Handheld Technology Via a Humanistic Ethnographic Approach
Parisa Eslambolchilar, Mads Bødker, & Alan Chamberlain

Choreographic Inscriptions: A Framework for Exploring Sociomaterial Influences on Qualities of Movement for HCI
Lian Loke & A. Baki Kocaballi

Quantified Bodies in the Checking Loop: Analyzing the Choreographies of Biomonitoring and Generating Big Data
Jaana Parviainen

Yamove! A Movement Synchrony Game that Choreographs Social Interaction
Katherine Isbister, Elena Márquez Segura, Suzanne Kirkpatrick, Xiaofeng Chen, Syed Salahuddin, Gang Cao, & Raybit Tang

More information

Ms. Barbara Crawford, Managing Editor

Human Technology: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Humans in ICT Environments

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Digital equipment for developing children’s multiliteracy

STORIES (Fostering Early Childhood Media Literacy Competencies) is a project examining digital storytelling in early childhood education. The project started in autumn 2015, and the Agora Center participates in it from the University of Jyväskylä.

Digital equipment for developing children’s multiliteracy in European research

STORIES (Fostering Early Childhood Media Literacy Competencies) is a project examining digital storytelling in early childhood education. The project started in autumn 2015, and the Agora Center participates in it from the University of Jyväskylä. The other partners come from Germany (University of Education Karlsruhe), Italy (Coopselios, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Computer Learning) and Turkey (Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University). The partners of STORIES meet in Jyväskylä on May 12–13 to work on the project’s content issues.

STORIES is a three-year Erasmus+ project that will last until autumn 2018. As part of the project activities, educational experiments related to digital storytelling will be implemented in kindergartens during the following two academic years and their impact will be examined from different perspectives. The experiments will make use of both existing digital equipment (such as tablet devices and cameras) and a specific tool called i-Theatre ( that has been developed by one of the project partners, Computer Learning, specifically for the purpose of digital storytelling in kindergartens.

- It will be interesting to compare activities using i-Theatre and those using other digital tools; for example, whether children will take a more active role when using a tool that is specifically intended for this purpose, says researcher Tuula Nousiainen from the Agora Center.

- One of the goals of the project is to find out how much digital storytelling differs between different countries, says the coordinator of the STORIES project, Riccardo Lelli from Reggio Emilia. The idea of the project is to share ideas about how to use digital storytelling and digital equipments in early childhood education between European kindergartens, Lelli continues.

In autumn 2016, the STORIES project will organize a seminar in Jyväskylä that will be open for everyone interested in the project and early childhood education.


The progress and activities of STORIES can be followed via the website and the Facebook page of the project: 


Additional information:

Tuula Nousiainen

Project researcher

Agora Center

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School community development with a digital tool

The schools of Koulumäki and Keskuskoulu in the city of Äänekoski, Finland, have experimented with Ideaikkuna –a digital tool in developing school activities. During the past six months they listed ideas and development initiatives and discussed together with the school community. The Ideaikkuna opens up a possibility co-create, suggest solutions and add experiments related to the proposed ideas.

The school communities were really exited to join the research project that is run together by Universities of Jyväskylä and Turku. The project aims at integrating the tacit knowledge and professional expertise as integral part of organisational development. The first development theme was related to sports during the school day: how to get more activity to the classes and during the breaks.

- Based on this experiment it was noticed that when the whole community is involved the theme also needs to be interesting and contemporary, says designer Mikko Pirttimäki from the Agora Center, University of Jyvaskyla.

During the experiment the system was integrated to the curriculum development process. Session with the Ideaikkuna tool, workshops and more traditional development meetings were held in parallel. In the session with the parents the Ideaikkuna was given as an option to provide input and comments in addition to the joint workshops and discussions. The themes chosen to the workshop were visible to everyone in the system and also visualized as posters for the follow-up work.

Ideaikkuna solution provides participatory design and idea co-creation digitally

The experiment has provided an opportunity for researchers to focus on stakeholder participation in school development with a digital co-creation tool.

- In addition to involving teachers and parents the team has also opened up the possibility for student participation, says project manager Outi Teittinen.

This is in fact going to be the next experiment in Äänekoski school. The last schoolweek in May 2016 will be designed together with the students and the program for that week is co-created together with students. In these experiments the researchers gather information on how the solution can help with the development work in schools. New ideas and thoughts can be gathered and shared with all participants and in addition to sharing knowledge the project aims at co-creation of development work in the school communities.


More info:

Outi Teittinen, project manager, +358408053225, Agora Center

Designer Mikko Pirttimäki, +3588053380, , Agora Center                 

Project info: Incorporating employee-driven development and entrepreneurial initiatives into mundane modus operandi of work places  

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Experimenting with secure “smart city” solutions in Kangas

The new Kangas residential area in Jyväskylä will be built as a cyber-secure area that provides infrastructure for companies to develop and test “smart city” solutions. The research group in the interdisciplinary Agora Center will create an experimentation platform for the swift development and testing of private and public smart city solutions and services in Kangas.

The link address is:

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The University of Jyväskylä will close the operations of its interdisciplinary research unit

The University of Jyväskylä decided on April 13, 2016 to end the operations of the independent interdisciplinary research institute, the Agora Center. In announcing its decision, the university stated its aim toward developing the recognized strengths of the Agora Center’s operations throughout all faculties, institutes, and university services.

Agora Center photo wideThe Agora Center, established in 2002 as an independent institute, has been a national pioneer and a flagship of broad interdisciplinary collaboration and societal interaction for the university. Over the last 15 years, the Agora Center has initiated and developed new models of operations and collaboration, approaches that have been applied as well in universities internationally. The new models of interdisciplinary operations gaining increasing interest in Finland and abroad include the agile project planning, execution, and commercialization of interdisciplinary research projects; development of internal and external networks; and facilitating interdisciplinary, multicultural co-creation. The impact of the Agora Center's research is visible in significant cooperative operations with, among others, the City of Jyväskylä, the Central Finland Health Care District, and a diversity of enterprises in the region.

The Agora Center operations continue to be economically profitable and successful in regard to academic measures. During its time of operation, the institute has arranged for external funding to more than 600 persons employed in research positions, including experts from all seven faculties of the university, and supported the completion of over 70 Ph.D. dissertations as well as scores of master's theses. Additionally, the Agora Center has been active in finding new international funding opportunities and has been awarded research grants from the Academy of Finland, European Union, and Tekes.

The success of the Agora Center and the growing trend towards emphasis on an interdisciplinary perspective and the societal impact of research have raised the motivation of the university's administration toward adopting the developed practices within the mainstream faculty operations. Through the announced operations reorganization, the University Board aims to provide improved support to all faculties of the university in regard to project planning and administration, including interdisciplinary projects.

From the beginning of 2017, the operations of the independent institute Agora Center will end and all personnel will move to a faculty, other independent institute, or the university service operations. Detailed planning will be made as part of the structural development of the support services. The internal reorganization of the financing models will ensure incentives for interdisciplinary research.

Further information

Agora Center Director, Professor Pasi Tyrväinen, p. +358 40 540 8646,

Head of Planning and Development, Päivi Fadjukoff, p. +358 50 518 1410,

Regarding the University Board decision: Rector Matti Manninen, p. +358 40 680 0215,

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Agora Doctoral Dissertation Award to Jing Yang

The Agora Center of the University of Jyväskylä celebrated its 16th anniversary on 16 March 2016 and granted the annual Agora Doctoral Dissertation Award for a multidisciplinary dissertation significant for the development of innovations that serve people and benefit society. For the first time, the award was handed to an international researcher who has completed a doctoral degree in Jyväskylä. The awarded person is MA, PhD Jing Yang.

In her awarded dissertation, Dr Jing Yang developed the evaluation criteria of benefit-oriented socially engaged art practices that consider financial, social, artistic and aesthetic values. They help to define a special tendency of social engagement of art: artists and art educators engaging in social work experiments and committing themselves to the duties of social workers. 

The award was handed by Anita Mikkonen, the CEO of the Regional Council of Central Finland. She emphasised that, in addition to high scientific quality, the awarded dissertation was of topical interest and aimed at societal impact in the field.

- I am especially happy about that now we had a chance to award an international researcher in Central Finland. International collaboration is beneficial both for research and the whole society, says Anita Mikkonen.

Anita Mikkonen.

- The theme of the Agora day is the impact of research. The dissertation of Jing Yang caught the award jury’s attention with an uncompromising effort to focus on the evaluation of the impact of art without forgetting the artistic and aesthetic values, which are at the core of art, says Professor, Director of Agora Center Pasi Tyrväinen.

The dissertation is based on two real cases. The Finnish case is the Art and Culture Companions activity in Jyväskylä involving voluntary art instructors, mostly above the retirement age, in connection of the Art Museum. In China, Yang monitored the Art for the Disabled Scheme organised by a private foundation for young people disabled in an earthquake in 2008. The projects used art in a concrete way to ease social problems through voluntary and welfare activities. In both projects, dedicated individual artists had a key role.

The dissertation proves that artists and art educators who practice societal work experiments create new kind of understanding on artistic creativity: an ability to combine different areas of knowledge, integrate sectors and institutions in the community and mobilise competence in various fields of science to produce solutions for problems faced by societies.

- It often comes up in public debate that only certain fields, for example, technology and natural sciences would be societally beneficial fields of science. However, this kind of studies prove that any field of science may have concrete impact, says Pasi Tyrväinen. - With the award, Agora Center wants to encourage researchers to open-mindedly seek means to combine different angles and use their competence and research results for the good of society.

The annual Agora Doctoral Dissertation Award has been awarded since 2001.  The Agora Center implements multidisciplinary research at the University through a variety of projects. With its award, the Center and its partners wish to bring out the versatility of technology and innovations and support researchers and entrepreneurs to find cross-boundary solutions. The amount of the grant for scientific research is EUR 1,000.

Jing Yang

Further information:

Link to Jing Yang’s dissertation:

Jing Yang (Yang is the surname) is from Chengdu, China. She completed her BA and MA (1999) degrees at the Department of Decoration and Environment Art of the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. After that she completed a master’s degree at the Faculty of Art and Design at the University of Lapland, Chinese art propaganda as her research subject. She also spent, within the Erasmus exchange programme, an academic year in Ecole Superieure d’Art et Design de Saint-Etienne, France. She wrote her dissertation Benefit-Oriented Socially Engaged Art for the Department of Art and Culture Studies at the University of Jyväskylä and completed her doctoral degree in February 2015. 

Jing Yang has taught, for example, at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, the Fine Arts College of Sichuan Normal University and the Department of Art and Culture Studies at the University of Jyväskylä. In addition, she participated as a researcher and author in the Year of the Dragon, a Chinese art collection and exhibition project of the Joensuu Art Museum in 2012. Currently she writes her postdoctoral research in China, studying the impact of Chinese contemporary art to ecological consciousness and activities.

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Agora Day 2016: Results from University - Need for Speed?

The Agora 16th annual celebrations took place at the University of Jyväskylä, on March 16th, 2016. The topical theme of the day was to discuss the structural changes and needs for research-based impact in the society.

The top-level speakers included University of Jyväskylä rector, professor Matti Manninen, Ministerial Adviser Pirjo Kutinlahti from the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, Research professor Antti Hautamäki, and a former Prime Minister of Finland, presently multiply active, e.g., at Aalto University, Esko Aho.

Publication of Ministry report on how to increase impacts of Universities in society

The day included publication of a report produced in the project by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy to forward governmental research policies. Research professor Antti Hautamäki, leader of the project, presented the conclusions and suggestions. The report Impact-oriented research – suggestions for experiments to enhance research-based impacts and commercialization is openly available in Finnish on the Ministry website. New conceptual thinking, experimentations, and new operational models were called for in the day's presentations. Also the operations of the hosting Agora Center will be renewed according to these ideas.

The event ended with publication of the annual Agora Award for Excellence in a doctoral thesis. The CEO of Regional Council of Central Finland Anita Mikkonen presented the award to Dr. Jing Yang and her thesis Benefit-oriented socially engaged art: two cases of social work experiment that had strong aims for tackling societal challenges through research and art. Based on investigation of two non-profit projects—the Art for the Disabled Scheme and the Art and Culture Companions, this dissertation explored the conceptions, mechanisms and effects of benefit-oriented socially engaged art, The Agora Award has been annually awarded from 2001 on to support interdisciplinary scientific research with topical societal relevance.

The Agora Center is an internationally recognized and networked research center for interdisciplinary, innovative research on human technology and the knowledge society at the University of Jyväskylä. It creatively combines research of high international standards from a variety of scientific disciplines with the know-how derived from its diverse partner network. The work is primarily carried out with competed external funding.

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In the internet of things, even screwdrivers communicate

Professor Pasi Tyrväinen is developing a smart city and wants to make good IT companies even better. Read about this in the new compilation of Excellence in Research by the University of Jyvaskyla

The link address is:

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University of Jyväskylä boosts commercialization of research results

Tekes and the University of Jyväskylä have launched a new co-operation on the development of a more effective commercialization and university spin-off process. The aim is commercialize results coming from multidisciplinary research projects and to support entrepreneurship within the university. The universities of today have a necessity to act in co-operation with companies and also create spin-offs from their research.

The University of Jyväskylä has been highly successful in the preparation of the commercialization of research results. In a national comparison, the University of Jyväskylä is the second in ranking. Commercialization is carried out in 18 projects some of which are ongoing, and during the past 12 months, 7 projects have led to the creation of a spin-off company or licensing results to an existing company.

–The university staff is being encouraged to commercialize research. This is one of the main objectives of the project, says Head of Research Development, Dr. Timo Taskinen.

– At the beginning of the project we also aim at activating and supporting businesses to make better use of university research and public financing in their own development work, says Dean of the Faculty of Information Technology, professor Pekka Neittaanmäki.

– We are focusing more and more to the fact that staff and students set up spin-off companies and that the teams would receive more invested capital and entrepreneurial skills from early stages, says Head of Project Management Mikko Henrik Pitkänen in the Agora Center.

For this purpose an Entrepreneur in residence program was launched, where the research team will recruit complementary skills from outside of the university. Scientists know how to do research, but expertise on commercialization is needed in sales, marketing and business management.

The JY Acceleration Chain project will last until the end of 2016 with a total budget of 434 000 € out of which 50% is Tekes co-financing. As a partner in the project is the newly established investment company Unifund Jyväskylä Oy.

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University needs support for learning Finnish language

Agora Center from University of Jyväskylä has joined “speak clearly” campaign that emphasizes spoken language that is easily understandable, at moderate speed and well articulated.

–The need of speaking slowly is often related to mental disorders and such, but in academic communities we can benefit the integration of intelligent academics into our research community by speaking Finnish clearly, slowly and well articulated, says Päivi Fadjukoff, Head of Planning and Development in Agora Center.

Especially in workplaces that have staff with higher education degrees, like universities switch easily to English, if the discussion skills of the colleague are not already strong enough for dialogue.

–Although the meaning of this behavior is nice, we will at the same time reject the excitement and interest of foreigners to practice their language skills, says Dr. Fadjukoff.

The interdisciplinary Agora Center has for many years promoted multiculturality and welcomed international visitors to Jyväskylä. Both Finnish and English are in daily use at the research institutes projects in different working contexts. Along with international staff the unit has had several trainees that have had the goal to learn Finnish, which is required in many job positions in Finland.

–I came to Agora Center years ago as trainee to learn Finnish language and culture, says research amanuensis Susan Immonen, who came to Finland from the United States and after success in her training period got a permanent position in the unit.

Sacha Helfenstein moved to Finland from Switzerland and started working in Agora Center 15 years ago. Along his doctoral dissertation he learned to speak Finnish fluently.

–Learning to speak Finnish has opened career opportunities in the working life in Finland and also enabled efficient networking as a researcher, says Dr. Helfenstein. He has had positions in the university as researcher, teacher and research coordinator. Currently he is creative director at Qvantel ltd.

Learning to speak Finnish as a foreign language is more important now that immigration has increased. Research confirms that learning finnish is a great investment to immigrant. The better one can master the language of the country of residence, the better the success in the society will be.

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2 million euros to research and co-creation with companies

Agora Center has started a new collaboration worth of 2 million euros for research and development in the beginning of year 2016. The project portfolio consists of three projects granted to the Agora Center and University of Jyväskylä and cooperating commercial partners by Tekes, The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.

The projects Customer-online, JY Acceleration Chain and 5K conduct interdisciplinary research and development on the patient centered digital services in healthcare, university spin-off process and cyber-safe smart city.

–We now have a good opportunity for the research teams working on these Smart City and eHealth platforms. The best research teams get funded also in tighter economical times, says Mikko Henrik Pitkänen, Head of Project Management in Agora Center.

Agora Center supports research projects and co-creation with private sector. The networking and joint projects are necessary to be able to reach potential beneficiaries and gaining real impact from research results.

With the companies participating in the projects the research and development roadmap is designed together and then funded through national or international programs.

More info

Mikko Henrik Pitkänen, Head of Project Management, Agora Center
Tel. +358400247409
Email mikko.h.pitkanen(at)

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University expertise in immigration – Agora Flow of ideas workshop

Interdisciplinary group of experts gathered to discuss contemporary issues around immigration and research 11.1.2016. Research knowledge and strong expertise on immigration is available and the workshop discussed on how to have evidence base on intercultural research available.

During year 2015 the wave of immigration got us all by surprise. That is why we wanted to gather university experts to discuss how research expertise could be brought to use and benefit the society in this issue, says Dr. Päivi Fadjukoff, Head of Planning and Development in Agora Center.

The economic recession and simultaneous wave of immigration has brought controversy and threaths to the have to be seen from European and global perspective. The work related to immigration and its effect has only just begun, and the researchers participating in the workshop raised many concenrns and action points for development.

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University and a four armed strategy model?

The Finnish Ministry of Education has been pressuring universities to profile their research work: focus on their strengths and give up on their weaknesses. A bigger investment to a single discipline has more impact than the same investment to two smaller focus areas. This is how it goes – at least on the short term.

On the long term focusing only on existing strengths is not enough on the scientific world that is constantly developing further. If the research community had kept it’s focus on theology and philosophy, the University of Jyväskylä based on educational research would not have been founded.

Based on organizational research the long-term best achievers are ambidextrous organizations that at the same time develop their strengths and look for new opportunities and openings. Even so that success in new openings is more likely to happen in a unit that focuses solely on new ideas than within a larger organization that has established ways of working and processes. This seems to be true also in the large corporations that we have done research on. The question is how much will be invested in maintaining the existing expertise and how much on creating new things.

In the context of current disciplines the new openings are found at the intersection of disciplines in new interdisciplinary combinations. Especially in tight pressures for results the unit has a tendency to focus on optimization of internal processes instead of seeking new openings externally. Instead of cooperation of business units the internal competition is enhanced. On the other hand the strength of our interdisciplinary university is a vast amount of intersections, where new openings can be found both within and between the faculties. This is a strength that should not be left unattended.

In terms of the four arms of strategy for university I propose that one is the optimization of current practices, second is generating new interdisciplinary openings, third and fourth arms could be research and education based societal impact based upon which the university earns it’s place as part of the modern society and on the long run will support the sustainability of the university as an organization.

–21.1.2015 Pasi Tyrväinen, professor, Director of the Agora Center.

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