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**