ICS 669 S13 Social Computing

University of Hawaii Dept. of Information & Computer Sciences

Session 7–Management and conflict

Throughout the course we’ve looked at social computing sites and similar online communities as systems with affordances and constraints, and as arenas in which people interact.  In our final session, we’ll look at the people responsible for managing and maintaining online communities once they’re live–whether they’re designers, moderators/admins or users themselves–and what happens when things go wrong.

The readings for this session present a number of perspectives about the ways online communities govern, support and perpetuate themselves.  Kirman et al. find a legitimate role for griefers and trolls, Cosley et al. take an HCI-based approach to online governance, and Grimes et al. focus on the documents that govern online communities.  This Gazan fellow has a few observations about the motivations of rogue users in social Q&A sites, and based on your Session 6 posts some of you have already discovered the page maintained by Reed.  And I know it’s late in the semester, but by all means, don’t miss the Dibbell article.

With the usual end-of-semester chaos, it’s easy to get tunnel vision with your final projects: you’re so focused on your data collection and analysis (and just getting the thing done) that you might not consider broader data that might help explain why you see the data you see.  Considering governing documents, site policies and patterns of transgressions will help contextualize and ground your observations, and make them more effective and actionable. 

By Sunday, April 21, 11:59pm

  1. After completing the readings, find the official rules governing the site(s) you’re studying for your final project.  Keep in mind that relevant information might be found in more than one official document, for example in an FAQ, a sticky admin post, an email delivered at registration, a Terms of Use document etc.  Post a link (or links), with some brief explanatory text.
  2. Find three examples on the site where one or more rules have been broken, specifically in the form of interpersonal conflict (i.e. not just spam posts). Give a brief synopsis of each situation, along with any admin or user reactions if available, and provide a screenshot.
  3. For each of the three situations you describe, put yourself in the position of the administrator of the community, with the ability to take any action or set any policy on the site that you think best, and discuss your response to, and rationale for, each situation. Take time to consider the consequences of your prescriptions: for example, allowing users to remove inappropriate content instead of waiting for admin review risks coordinated suppression of content by motivated users or bots.  Relate your examples and discussion substantively to at least three of the Session 7 readings.
  4. Conclude with a list of five “unwritten rules” for your site, things that are not directly addressed by current policy, and would (recalling session 6) help users get what they came to the site to receive, and reflect the lessons of the readings you cited.

By Friday, April 26, 11:59pm

As you have done so well throughout the course, comment on at least five other students’ posts.

By Sunday, April 28, 11:59pm

Conclude your conversations.

Though I encourage you to email me as you complete your final projects (due May 5), since this is my last post I’d just like to thank you for taking a chance on this course.  This is a uniquely student-driven course, and without your interest, interactions and enthusiasm it would not have worked nearly as well.   I welcome any suggestions, either in the course evaluation or via email, that you think might make this an even better experience for the next group of students.

Thanks and aloha,


Session 6–Online identity and interaction

I hope you enjoyed spring break.  One of the advantages of taking a course that’s been taught several times before is that I’ve seen a few common places where students tend to stumble or get lost.  This is one of those places.  At the end of session 5, I asked you to declare your final project topics, but it’s remotely possible you may not have thought much about projects for this or any class over the break :).  Therefore, I’m requiring you to do what most successful projects do: run a small pilot study, early enough to integrate the results into the design and execution of your final project.

This session will be conducted (and graded) differently than the others.   You can earn some extra credit points this session (max 12 instead of the usual 10), and the report of your pilot study results can be included directly in your final project writeup.

This session’s readings cover topics you’ll need to understand in order to make sense of your results: how people create and express online identities within the context of particular communities.  One of the primary reasons people participate in social computing sites is that they provide the ability to do things and adopt identities we can’t in our offline lives.  Apply some of the concepts and findings from these readings–both what they’ve done, and what they should have done but didn’t–to your final projects.

By Sunday, April 7, 11:59pm

Part 1: Pilot study (5 points):

Before starting, review the final project guidelines posted in the Session 4 blog closely.  Then conduct a small pilot study for your final project following the guidelines below.  Report the following on your blog, even if you’ve mentioned some of this in prior posts:

  • The research question you’re addressing, the site or sites where you’re conducting research, and the method(s) you’ll use to analyze the data
  • Collect and analyze roughly 10% of the data you’re planning for your final project, and discuss your initial findings on your blog.  Does the data address your research question satisfactorily?  Did new questions arise?  Now that you’ve collected and analyzed some data, how will you use this initial experience to create a final project that meets the (admittedly lofty) goals set out in the final project guidelines?
  • I understand everyone’s project is different, and yours may not fit easily into the pilot study requirements above—if that’s the case, email me at least three days before this blog post is due to ask questions and discuss your options.

Part 2: Session 6 readings (5 points):

  • Propose a working definition of online identity as it relates to a site you are studying for your final project, and compare it to one or more of those found in the readings.  Then contrast your definition with Wellman et al.’s sense of networked individualism.
  • Write two informal use scenarios (outlines of common interactions) based on your observations of existing users. In each scenario, describe how an individual with a predictable need enters your community, navigates through common decision points and options step by step, then (ideally) exits with what he or she came for. Include functional interactions (decision points relevant to the user’s goal; you need not exhaustively list all options) and interpersonal interactions. Don’t worry about formal scenario structure, just communicate the information in a paragraph or bulleted list. Write one “sunny day” use scenario (a common interaction where all goes as expected), and one “rainy day” scenario (an uncommon but plausible interaction where it doesn’t).
  • Conclude by discussing how your final project research might help turn a rainy day scenario into a sunny one for the users of the site(s) you’re studying.

By Friday, April 12, 11:59pm

Part 3: Comments (2 points):  Comment on at least five other students’ posts, and remember to make your comments as specific and actionable as possible.  Most of you have done an outstanding job of interacting and helping each other via the comments section throughout the course, and this is probably the last chance you’ll have to make suggestions for other students’ projects.

By Sunday, April 14, 11:59pm

Conclude your conversations.  The Session 7 (final!) blog will be posted Monday April 15.

Session 5: Social knowledge production and services

In this session, the readings focus on how the aggregation of user-generated content creates a knowledge production infrastructure that both works alongside and disrupts traditional information services.  You’ll need this background to refine your final project ideas, so you’re not just evaluating or redesigning a social computing site, but considering its role in a broader context.  I’ll be emailing you individually this week with a reaction to your final project ideas from last session.

By Sunday, March 17, 11:59pm

Most of the readings for this session focus on social computing tools that do some of the same work as existing systems and services:

  • Online peer production (e.g. open source software development) vs. in-person collaboration
  • Social tagging vs. professional cataloging and classification
  • Social recommender systems vs. real-world advice seeking
  • Social Q&A sites vs. libraries or schools

Choose one of the above comparisons (or propose another), and discuss on your blog some of the ways in which the pair of information exchange environments you chose can inform each other. Use specific examples from at least two of the four readings from this session (I won’t feel bad if you don’t address the one I wrote :)), and at least one screenshot from a relevant site to ground your points. And make sure you address both sides: for example, if you propose that a strength of Social Q&A can help address a weakness in traditional education, then also discuss how a strength of traditional education can improve a weakness of Social Q&A. Why do you think the two perspectives can benefit one other, and what would some tradeoffs be?

Some cautions: strive to make your analysis both actionable and non-obvious. If you find yourself thinking that the two environments you’ve chosen are too different to be usefully compared, then choose others. Your goal is to identify examples of how social and traditional knowledge production and services can plausibly inform one another, so you can begin to understand why they were created in the context of existing alternatives, what social and informational problems they were designed to solve, and why particular sites become popular while others wither.

Conclude your post with your final project topic.  Review the final project guidelines posted in the Session 4 blog to make sure what you’re proposing can meet the requirements.  If you are proposing a joint or alternative project that differs from what you proposed in your Session 4 post, make sure you email me before the deadline so we can negotiate details.

By Friday, March 22, 11:59pm:

Comment on at least 5 other students’ posts. Feel free to address either the session’s topic or their final projects.  As usual, if there are people you haven’t interacted with much, strive to even out your comments.

By Sunday, March 24, 11:59pm:

Conclude your conversations–then enjoy Spring Break!

The Session 6 blog will go up Monday April 1.

Session 4: Social role, capital and trust

In Session 3 you discovered some of the ways that different communities react and respond to different types of content.  Now the focus will shift to the roles of users in those communities.  In past sessions, some of you identified user profile pages or experience levels as a kind of evidence that helps other users evaluate which content is worth reading and responding to.   That’s one of the core dimensions of a social computing site: when you’re determining whether to read, believe, or respond to a post, you’re evaluating not just the content but its source.  And evaluating users in social computing sites isn’t just based on the answers they’ve posted and their self-authored profiles—in large part it’s based on how other users have rated their past contributions.  

The readings for this session give you a very brief introduction to three major concepts researchers in the field have been using to understand people’s behavior on social computing sites.  That doesn’t mean they’re the best ones, or applicable in all situations, but by this point in the course I’m sure you’re aware that critiquing readings is just as useful as applying them, arguably more so—as long as you present evidence to back up your assertions.

By Sunday, March 3, 11:59pm

  • After completing the readings, address the following on your blog in a paragraph or two:  if you were reading a research paper that claimed to offer some insights about users of social computing sites, what evidence would you find the most convincing?  You need not relate this part of your response to the readings; I’m asking you to do this so that when you propose your final project, you will incorporate the evidence you as a reader would find most convincing.
  • Compare two online communities that implement different social role/capital/trust mechanisms.  Try to make the communities somewhat comparable in terms of size and topic scope.  Since part of the fun of reading other folks’ blogs is discovering new sites, choose communities you haven’t visited or blogged about before.
  • Define social role, social capital and trust, as they relate to social computing sites.  Describe the sites you chose, and compare their social role, capital and trust mechanisms.  What does social role, capital and trust mean on each site?  What do they allow you to do?  How does a new user earn them?  No need to collect and report data this time; I’d like you to address these questions anecdotally: discuss an experience or set of observations from each site where social role, capital or trust came into play.  This might include your experience as a new member of the community without any social capital, your interactions or observations with experienced members, or something entirely different.
  • Relate your experience to concepts from at least two of the four Session 4 readings, and suggest improvements to each site’s role/capital/trust mechanisms.
  • Conclude your post with one or more ideas for a final project, which need not be connected to this session’s topics.  Phrase it as a question you’re interested in exploring, and include some specific ideas on how and where you might address the question, using the evidence you would find most convincing from the beginning of this blog post as a guide.  Your goal here is not to commit to a final project topic yet, but to invite discussion and suggestions.

By Friday, March 8, 11:59pm

Comment on at least five other students’ blog posts, and include a reaction to their final project idea(s).  You can contribute questions you think they should consider, outside resources you think may be of help, problems/pitfalls you think might arise, or any other contribution that helps them focus and finalize their proposal.

By Sunday, March 10, 11:59pm

Conclude your discussions.

Final project guidelines

  • Identify a question rising out of the readings or your own experience during the course that you’d like to explore in more depth, and how you plan to address it.  You may work alone or in pairs.  You will post a proposed question in Session 4, receive feedback from students and me, then commit to a topic at the end of Session 5.
  • Address your question both analytically (include literature both within and beyond the course readings) and empirically (data gathered via your experience on one or more relevant social sites).  Use data gathering models from the readings and course sessions to structure your investigation, and base your argument on data, methods and evidence you would find convincing if you were reading a paper authored by someone else.  Conclude with a reflective discussion section where you evaluate your data and observations in light of your original question.  
  • Your goal is to produce a document that gives its readers non-obvious insight and understanding about your question, and is presented convincingly and compellingly enough that people might link to it, comment on it, and follow your blog (I know you can’t control this, but it’s a good goal to shoot for).  Planning, flexibility and persistence will also be key components of your grade.
  • Length should be roughly 20 double-spaced pages for a solo project, not counting screenshots (required) and bibliography.  One of the elements I’m assessing in your final projects is your understanding of the readings, so I’ll expect you to engage substantively with at least eight readings from the syllabus.  You are free to propose a different final project or format–if this option interests you, contact me as far in advance of the proposal deadline as possible.
  • Final projects will be due as a .doc/.docx or .pdf email attachment to me by Sunday, May 5.  As your final blog post for the course, post a one-page summary of your final project and findings–you are encouraged but not required to post the full document.

Session 3: Motivation for participation

Some outstanding work in Session 2, and I’m already looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with for your final projects.  A few of you ran into problems with site registration delays that prevented you from investigating your questions—when something like that happens, the best strategy to maximize your grade is to post what you can by the deadline, then edit your post with any missing information as soon as possible.

Session 3 is all about why people participate in social computing sites.  That’s a different question than why you think they participate, and in this session you’ll be investigating that difference.  You’ll be doing some observation, data collection and analysis about user motivation, and hopefully finding evidence that your initial conceptions change as a result.  Your choice of social computing site for this session’s assignment isn’t committing you to any community or topic for your final projects, you’re just getting practice to ground whatever project you do propose in real data, and make sure you’re asking the right questions.

By Sunday, Feb 17, 11:59pm

1) Complete the Session 3 readings.  On your blog, briefly summarize and evaluate aspects of three of the five readings you found most interesting, then provide two examples from your own social computing experience: one that supports a claim about user motivation in one of the readings, and another that challenges or extends a claim in another.  An example of the latter might be some reason you participate in an online community that you did not find covered or adequately explained.  Some of you have mentioned that you don’t participate in online communities, but hopefully the examples provided by your fellow students in their Session 2 posts illustrate that an extremely wide variety of sites fit this description, and that it’s pretty easy to participate.  Plus, it’s required :).

2) Observe at least 50 posts on a social computing site or online community that’s new to you.  For the purposes of this session, a post is defined as content that draws a response.  The canonical example is the first post in a forum thread.  Don’t count responses as posts.  Provide a brief description of the site, a link where people can see at least a few of the posts in your sample, and address the following questions on your blog:

  • What modes of participation are there? For example, you may be able to post content of your own, comment on others’ posts, rate posts, flag posts, friend people, send private messages etc.  Provide a complete list of every participation action the site allows you to take.  No need to explain or elaborate (unless a participation function isn’t obvious from the name), just a list is fine for this section.
  • How is participation encouraged? Describe the 3-5 most common ways participation is encouraged with examples from your sample.  Consider types of encouragement from both the designers of the site and its participants.  Evaluate how well you think each of the 3-5 motivators you identified actually encourages participation, and suggest at least one improvement.
  • Which types of content draw the most responses? Careful: this part of the question is not asking you to group posts by the name of the forum in which they’re posted.  You’ll need to review the posts in your sample in depth, and create your own descriptive scheme that accurately distinguishes the five most common content types posted in your sample.  For example, in a social site for people trying to lose weight, content types might include posts dealing with temptation, announcements of weight loss milestones, rants about skinny people, confessions of backsliding, and healthy options in restaurants.  Present your descriptive scheme, include a raw count of the number of times each kind of content you describe is posted, and (importantly) add up the number of responses each post receives, in any mode you can detect, to arrive at a total response count for each content type.

3) Discuss and evaluate your findings.  Focus specifically on anything you found surprising or unexpected.  Your goal in this section is to evaluate whether your observations support, challenge or extend concepts from the readings, which may be different than the conclusions you drew from your own experience.

By Friday, Feb 22, 11:59pm

Comment substantively on at least five other students’ blogs.  Again, try to choose students with whom you haven’t already engaged in conversation.

By Sunday, Feb 24, 11:59pm

Conclude your discussions.  Continue to consider questions you’d like to investigate for your final projects–feel free to contact me to discuss possible topics, but next session’s blog will have more concrete guidelines on that.

Session 2: Social aspects of social computing

Session 1 feedback

Very good job in Session 1.  Most of you addressed all aspects of the assignment, challenged concepts in the readings with your own experiences and—perhaps most importantly—expressed yourselves in your own voice.  I genuinely enjoyed reading your posts and comments, and from the comment threads I think most of you did too.  Hopefully, the structure of this course will allow you to learn from each other throughout, so to that end, here are the Session 1 blogs I felt were the strongest:

If your blog doesn’t appear here, it probably means you analyzed fewer than three of the five readings, didn’t discuss them in sufficient depth, or didn’t address all aspects of the assignment.  Many of you not listed here got close to full credit for Session 1, but if everyone contributes to the standard of the examples above consistently throughout the course, no one will have to worry about their final grade.  Review the blog post guidelines on the syllabus, compare your blog to these examples, and you should both see the wide range of diverse and effective expression styles, and have a better idea of the expectations of the assignments going forward.  If you still have questions about your work, feel free to email me anytime.

Session 2

The Session 2 readings dig a little deeper, and address specific questions that recur across a range of social computing environments.  Weeks questions our responsibility to each other when we interact through a social computing medium with a particularly resonant example from Twitter.  Albrechtslund takes a more voyeuristic approach, analyzing how posters and viewers bestow and take away power as a result of mutual surveillance, and Mayer et al. describe what we can infer about others as a result of the interaction.  In a smaller study, Wagner et al. attempt to describe what kind of content gets the most attention in social computing environments, and Hodkinson focuses on a specific group of people and how they connect through this medium.  I know it’s still early in the semester, but your final projects in this course will require you to choose a question related to social computing and investigate it, so this session’s assignment asks you to read five examples of how diverse researchers have done the same thing, and asks you to do it on a much smaller scale.

By Sunday, Feb 3, 11:59pm

Complete the session’s readings, and address the following on your blog:

1)   Choose three of the five assigned readings for this session and point out specific connections or mismatches between concepts within them, the data and methods they use to investigate their research questions, and examples/counterexamples from your research or experience.

2)   From this analysis, identify one question raised by the readings that for you remains unanswered. Example: Albrechtslund mentions “empowering exhibitionism” as one rationale for online information sharing. What are some specific examples of empowerment, and is there a corresponding (or overriding) loss of power when putting personal information online?

3)   Join an online community (loosely defined) under your pseudonym, and conduct a small, preliminary investigation of your unanswered question. Choose a topic and community that is of genuine interest to you, where you are not already a member.  Describe how you investigated your question, why you chose this community, and your results.  Make your comments data-driven: link them to specific actions you and others took on the site that others could observe, and compare your data and methods to those used by the authors of this session’s papers.  Relate your experience back to the concepts you raised from the readings in part 1, and provide at least one screenshot or link to relevant portions of your interaction.

Remember, be sure your post is substantive enough to demonstrate your understanding of the relevant concepts from the papers you cite, and always feel free to address other aspects of the readings you find interesting as well.

By Friday Feb 8, 11:59pm

Comment substantively on at least five other students’ Session 2 posts.  Try to choose people you didn’t engage with in Session 1.


By Sunday Feb 10, 11:59pm

Conclude your conversations.

Session 1: Conceptions of social computing

Welcome to Session 1.  We have a diverse group of folks in this course, from undergrads to PhD students, from at least six different degree programs.  I’m looking forward to reading posts from such a wide range of perspectives, and hopefully the structure of this course will allow you interact and exchange ideas.

In these initial readings, I want to give you an overview of what social computing systems are and how they’re studied.  We’re already near the point where social computing systems are a kind of infrastructure that we take for granted and rarely think about, so it’s worthwhile to consider what’s unique about these environments, why people participate and how we know.  But the most important thing I want you to get out of this session and the course as a whole is to view these sites not as abstract systems or cold objects of study, but as an important element of people’s lives.  I’m not just talking about the stories sensationalized in the media, like online bullying driving people to suicide, but how social computing systems increasingly influence careers, relationships, scientific and professional practice and our sense of ourselves.

Some examples of things you should get from this session’s readings are what authors mean by toading, flâneurs, the difference between social network sites and social computing systems, why Friendster failed, and some of the upsides and downsides of the Web 2.0 world of user-generated and user-vetted content.  You should be able to engage their concepts and arguments critically, find points of overlap and disconnect between them, and using their work as a foundation, articulate your own views.

Any blog worth reading tells people something they don’t already know, so in your responses, strive to choose examples that people are not likely to have encountered before.  Eighteen people posting about how Facebook has changed everything every week would make for a pretty dry course :).

Session 1, Week 1 (Mon Jan 14-Sun Jan 20)

1) Complete the Session 1 readings.  Google/Wikipedia any terms you don’t know.  If some of the readings raise points you find insightful, troubling, questionable, laughable or otherwise interesting, note them down and why you think so.  This is the best way to make sure you articulate critical understanding of the readings in your blog post, which is an essential part of your grade.

2) By 11:59pm Sunday Jan 20, post on your blog your response to the following:

Hopefully you haven’t had a social computing experience as intense as that described in the Dibbell reading, but I’d like you to base your first post on a memorable personal experience you have had on a social computing site.  Begin by proposing a definition of social computing based on the readings and your own experience.  Briefly describe the environment where your experience took place, provide a link if applicable, and explain which specific elements about the environment make it meet your definition of social computing.  I encourage you to think broadly about the types of sites and virtual environments that might meet this definition.  Then tell your story.  Apply concepts from at least three of the five Session 1 readings to your story, and evaluate how they explain, or fail to explain, the actions of yourself and others.  If you are interested in social computing research, you may wish to focus some of your comments on some of the challenges of gathering data to identify patterns of user behavior that your story reveals.  Again, be sure your post is substantive enough to demonstrate your understanding of the relevant concepts from the papers you cite, and review the syllabus for the guidelines for posts.  Conclude by commenting freely on anything else you found interesting or noteworthy about the readings.

Session 1, Week 2 (Mon Jan 21-Sun Jan 27)

By 11:59pm Friday Jan 25:
Read as many other students’ blogs as you like, but comment substantively on at least five.  Respond to comments on your blog, and those of other students. I’ll be jumping in too, though I may not comment on every post every week.

By 11:59 pm Sunday Jan 27:
Conclude your conversations.  Toward the end of the session, skim other students’ blogs one last time and see if you can identify any common characteristics of the most informative and engaging posts, and those which generated the most lively/interesting comment threads. Use these characteristics as a set of guidelines for your future posts.

Session 0: Intro and blog setup

Welcome to the Spring 2013 semester, and to ICS 669 Social Computing.  This first week will be dedicated to setup and housekeeping, though you will have a few deliverables.

    • As soon as possible: Bookmark this course blog.  Read the syllabus thoroughly, to make sure you understand the content and expectations of the course.  Click through a few readings to get a sense of what we’ll be covering.  Email me with any questions, at gazan(at)hawaii.edu.
    • By Friday January 11: Create a blog for this class (don’t use an existing blog), and post a short paragraph about yourself and what you hope to get out of the course.  Use a consistent pseudonym or handle–you need not make your real identity public–but email me individually so I know which student is writing which blog.  Make sure you set up your blog to allow unmoderated comments once a user has had one comment approved.  Post a link to your blog as a comment to this post.
    • By Sunday January 13: Subscribe to all other students’ blogs (this should be around 14-18 people).  Post a brief comment on every other student’s blog (“hi” or an emoticon is fine, this is just to allow the blog owner to approve your initial comment so that all others can be posted without moderation).  Approve all comments on your blog.  Past students suggest that adjusting your settings to receive a notification when follow-up comments are posted in response to comments you have posted on others’ blogs allows for optimal management of multiple conversations, which will be critical in this course.

Session 1 will begin Monday January 14.

Spring 2013 Syllabus

Instructor: Rich Gazan


Social computing is an umbrella term for technologies and virtual spaces that allow users to create, describe and share content, and for the communities that arise around them.  The goal of this course is to survey theoretical and practical instances of social computing such as blogs, social bookmarking, classification and recommendation systems, compare them with traditional professional equivalents, and evaluate how these diverse perspectives can inform one another.

Course structure

This is an online, asynchronous course.  It is designed for graduate students who have a high level of internal motivation to extend their knowledge about social computing and related topics, and who will take full advantage of the opportunity to work both independently and in virtual groups.  In keeping with the social nature of the course, staying current and participating actively and regularly in an online environment is critical.

Though no specific technical background is required, you should be comfortable with teaching yourself how to use Web 2.0 and related technologies, which may involve downloading and installing software on your computer, registering with various sites, and troubleshooting.

This course blog will be the center for information exchange.  You will create a blog, specific to this course (i.e. not your existing blog), and use an aggregator or similar tool to follow the blogs of your fellow students and receive update notifications.  All readings are available online, some linked through Laulima.

The course will be conducted as a series of seven two-week sessions, loosely organized by topic.  Following an introductory session zero where you set up your blog and notifications, each session will follow this pattern:

  • First week: On Monday, I will post the session’s readings–which may change from those listed on the syllabus–on the course blog, with a related assignment.  The latter will usually take the form of questions to address and/or sites to visit and evaluate.  Respond to the assignments with a post on your blog.  Your response to the assignment must be posted by 11:59 pm Sunday, i.e. in one week.  An acceptable blog post will be between 500-1000 words (more is fine), will specifically and critically address a majority of the session’s readings, and will address all aspects of the associated assignment.  An outstanding blog post will use the readings and assignments as starting points for further exploration.  You may use a formal or informal tone, as long as the content is there.  A friendly but serious reminder: don’t plagiarize.  Copying, adapting or otherwise borrowing ideas without proper citation will be considered a violation of the UH Manoa Student Conduct Code (http://studentaffairs.manoa.hawaii.edu/policies/conduct_code/) relating to academic honesty, and will result in an F in the course.
  • Second week: Read as many of your fellow students’ blog posts as you like.  Comment substantively on at least five per session.  Acceptable blog comments will engage specifics of the blog author’s and/or paper author’s points, possibly including illustrative links to content from other sessions and elsewhere.  Respond to other students’ comments on your own and on other students’ posts as appropriate.  Not all blog posts will generate long comment threads and lively conversation, but one of your goals in the second week of every session (and in the course as a whole) is to move productive conversations forward, to both create and benefit from a collaborative learning environment.

You will propose a final project, which can be done individually or in pairs.  We will negotiate details and expectations as the course progresses.


You must complete all assignments to pass the course.  Though I may not comment on every blog every week, throughout the course I will provide both individual and group feedback on your contributions.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or concerns.

  • 70%: Blog posts and participation (10 points/session.  Late posts will be penalized 2 points per day late)
  • 30%: Final project

98-100 A+| 93-97 A | 90-92 A- | 88-89 B+ | 83-87 B | 80-82 B- | 78-79 C+ | 73-77 C

Schedule and readings (subject to change; I suggest you read these in the order listed)

Session 0: Introduction and blog setup (Mon Jan 7-Sun Jan 13)

Session 1: Conceptions of social computing (Mon Jan 14-Sun Jan 27)

Dibbell, Julian (1998; revised). A Rape in Cyberspace: How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database Into a Society. The Village Voice, 23 December 1993.  http://www.juliandibbell.com/texts/bungle.html

boyd, d.m., and N.B. Ellison (2007). Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html

Bernstein, Michael S., Ackerman, Mark S., Chi, Ed H., Miller, Robert C. (2011).  The Trouble With Social Computing Systems Research.  ACM CHI 2011, 7-12 May, Vancouver, BC. (via Laulima)

Beer, David and Roger Burrows (2007).  Sociology and, of and in Web 2.0: Some Initial Considerations. Sociological Research Online 12(5). http://www.socresonline.org.uk/12/5/17.html

Tenopir, Carol (2007).  Web 2.0: Our Cultural Downfall? Library Journal, 12/15/2007. http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6510681.html?industryid=47130

Session 2: Social aspects of social computing (Mon Jan 28-Sun Feb 10)

Weeks, Linton (2009).  Social Responsibility and the Web: A Drama Unfolds. 8 January 2009.  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99094257

Albrechtslund, Anders (2008).  Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance. First Monday 13(3). http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2142/1949

Mayer, Julia M., Richard P. Schuler, Quentin Jones (2012) Towards an Understanding of Social Inference Opportunities in Social Computing.  ACM GROUP’12, 27-31 October, Sanibel Island, FL. (via Laulima)

Wagner, Claudia, Matthew Rowey, Markus Strohmaierz, and Harith Alaniy (2012).  Ignorance Isn’t Bliss: An Empirical Analysis of Attention Patterns in Online Communities.  ASE International Conference on Social Computing. 3-5 September 2012, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. (via Laulima)

Hodkinson, Paul (2006).  Subcultural Blogging? Online Journals and Group Involvement Among UK Goths.  In: A. Bruns and J. Jacobs, Uses of Blogs. New York: Peter Lang, 187-199. http://www.paulhodkinson.co.uk/publications/hodkinsonsubculturalblogging.pdf

Session 3: Motivation for participation (Mon Feb 11-Sun Feb 24)

Cheshire, Coye, and Judd Antin (2010). None of Us is As Lazy As All of Us.  Information, Communication and Society 13(4), 537-555. (via Laulima)

Ridings, Catherine and David Gefen (2004).  Virtual Community Attraction: Why People Hang Out Online. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 10(1).  http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol10/issue1/ridings_gefen.html

Ling, K., G. Beenen, P. Ludford, X. Wang, K. Chang, X. Li, D. Cosley, D. Frankowski, L. Terveen, A.M. Rashid, P. Resnick and R. Kraut (2005). Using Social Psychology to Motivate Contributions to Online Communities. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 10(4), article 10. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol10/issue4/ling.html

Tedjamulia, Steven J.J., David R. Olsen, Douglas L. Dean, Conan C. Albrecht (2005).  Motivating Content Contributions to Online Communities: Toward a More Comprehensive Theory. Proceedings of the 38th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. (via Laulima)

Schrock, Andrew (2009).  Examining Social Media Usage: Technology Clusters and Social Network Site Membership. First Monday 14(1). http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2242/2066

Session 4: Social role, capital and trust (Mon Feb 25-Sun Mar 10)

Gleave, Eric, Howard T. Welser, Thomas M. Lento and Marc A. Smith (2009).  A Conceptual and Operational Definition of Social Role in Online Community. Proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Waikoloa, HI, 5-8 January 2009. (via Laulima)

Williams, D. (2006).  On and Off the ‘Net: Scales for Social Capital in an Online Era. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(2), article 11.

Cheshire, Coye (2011). Online Trust, Trustworthiness or Assurance? Daedalus 140(4), 49-58. (via Laulima)

Ellison, N.B., C. Steinfield and C. Lampe (2007).  The Benefits of Facebook “Friends:” Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4). http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol12/issue4/ellison.html

Session 5: Social knowledge production and services (Mon Mar 11-Sun Mar 24)

Duguid, Paul (2006). Limits of Self-Organization: Peer Production and “Laws of Quality”. First Monday 11(10).  http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1405/1323

Haythornthwaite, Caroline (2009).  Crowds and Communities: Light and Heavyweight Models of Peer Production.  Proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Waikoloa, HI, 5-8 January 2009. (via Laulima)

Leibenluft, Jacob (2007).  A Librarian’s Worst Nightmare: Yahoo! Answers, Where 120 Million Users Can be Wrong. Slate, 7 December 2007.  http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2007/12/a_librarians_worst_nightmare.single.html

Gazan, Rich (2008).  Social Annotations in Digital Library Collections.  D-Lib 14(11/12). http://www.dlib.org/dlib/november08/gazan/11gazan.html

Spring Break (Mon Mar 25-Sun Mar 31)


Session 6: Online identity and interaction (Mon Apr 1-Sun Apr 14)

Wellman, Barry, Anabel Quan-Haase, Jeffrey Boase, Wenhong Chen, Keith Hampton, Isabel Isla de Diaz and Kakuko Miyata (2003).  The Social Affordances of the Internet for Networked Individualism. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 8(3). http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol8/issue3/wellman.html

Donath, Judith. (2007). Signals in Social Supernets. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13(1).  http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/donath.html

Liu, H. (2007). Social Network Profiles as Taste Performances. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 13. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/liu.html

Huberman, Bernardo, Daniel Romero and Fang Wu (2009).  Social Networks That Matter: Twitter Under the Microscope. First Monday 14(1).

Gazan, Rich (2009).  When Online Communities Become Self-Aware. Proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Waikoloa, HI, 5-8 January 2009. (via Laulima)


Session 7: Management and conflict (Mon Apr 15-Sun Apr 28)

Kirman, Ben, Conor Linehan and Shaun Lawson (2012).  Exploring Mischief and Mayhem in Social Computing or: How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Trolls. ACM CHI 2012, 5-10 May, Austin, TX. (via Laulima)

Cosley, Dan, Dan Frankowski, Sara Kiesler, Loren Terveen, John Riedl (2005). How Oversight Improves Member-Maintained Communities. ACM CHI 2005, April 2-7 2005, Portland, Oregon. (via Laulima)

Grimes, Justin, Paul Jaeger and Kenneth Fleischmann (2008).  Obfuscatocracy: A Stakeholder Analysis of Governing Documents for Virtual Worlds. First Monday 13(9). http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2153/2029

Gazan, Rich (2007).  Understanding the Rogue User. In: Diane Nahl and Dania Bilal, eds.  Information and Emotion: The Emergent Affective Paradigm in Information Behavior Research and Theory. Medford, New Jersey: Information Today, 177-185. (via Laulima)

Dibbell, Julian (2008). Mutilated Furries, Flying Phalluses: Put the Blame on Griefers, the Sociopaths of the Virtual World.  Wired 16.02. http://www.wired.com/gaming/virtualworlds/magazine/16-02/mf_goons?currentPage=all

Reed, Mike (no date). Flame Warriors. http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/index.htm

**Final projects due: Sunday May 5**