ICS 669 S13 Social Computing

University of Hawaii Dept. of Information & Computer Sciences

Month: January, 2013

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.