Sunday, January 23, 2011

Session 2--Social aspects of social computing

Session 1 feedback

Before we start the second session, I'd like to give you some feedback on the first. Hopefully reading other students' blogs gave you some good ideas about how to present your ideas in this format, and the level of analysis the assignments require. One of the strengths of the blog format is that it allows for individual expression within the framework of class assignments, so while I encourage you to learn from the posts of others, please don't use them as a strict template--be as formal or informal as you like with your posts, as long as the content is there.

I left comments on most of your blogs yesterday, and noticed that while many of you had left excellent comments on the minimum five blogs (or more), some of you had not. While waiting until the deadline to post your blogs in the first week of each session is fine (and perhaps preferable), holding back comments til the last few hours or minutes restricts interaction. So for this session, I'm making your initial five comments due by Friday night instead of Sunday, to give everyone more of a chance to react and interact. We'll see how this works, then decide whether to continue or change it for Session 3.

Asking you to review and comment on each others' work might be a good meta-example of social computing, but I thought at this early stage you might also be interested in the opinion of the person giving you your grade ;). To give you an example of what constitutes excellent work, here are some Session 1 blogs that met (and surpassed) my expectations:

If your blog doesn't appear in this list, it doesn't mean your work wasn't excellent--it probably means you analyzed fewer than four readings, did not provide a substantive analysis of the readings you did cite, or did not address all aspects of the assignment, such as neglecting to provide your own definition of social computing. Other problems were people who quoted from readings or other sources as much or more than they wrote their own opinions. 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 directly anytime.

Session 2

In this session we begin to confront some of the consequences of squeezing human interaction and social dynamics through the Web infrastructure. This session's readings and assignment give you a lot of freedom to follow your own interests, so it's a perfect time to start thinking about what you'd like to explore in more depth in your final projects.

By Sunday Jan 30, 11:59pm:

1) Choose five of the seven assigned readings for this session and point out specific connections or mismatches between concepts within them, examples and/or counterexamples from your research or experience, and 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?

2) Join an online community (loosely defined) under your pseudonym, and investigate your unanswered question. Choose a topic and community that is of genuine interest to you, not something made up, and discuss your experience. Make your comments as data-driven as possible (linked to specific actions and interactions), and relate your experience back to concepts you raised from the readings. What did this experience allow you to do that you couldn't have done offline? Provide at least one screenshot or link to your interaction (or relevant portions), and post it on your blog along with your discussion.

By Friday Feb 4, 11:59pm:

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

By Sunday Feb 6, 11:59pm:

Conclude your discussions, and take one last look at the posts and comments you found most interesting. Use this opportunity to guide your future posts, and to get some ideas for your final projects.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Session 1--Intro and overview

Welcome to the course blog for ICS 691: Social Computing, for Spring 2011. If you haven't already reviewed the syllabus, please do so now to get a sense of how this online course will be structured and paced:

However, don't get too attached to the reading list, as some readings will likely change as we progress. This is the second time this course has been offered in this format, and though much of the syllabus may look similar, all of the assignments will be different. While your blogs and comments should of course address the guidelines in each session's assignments, you are encouraged to express and analyze any tangential or topical issues you find interesting--these usually are the seeds of the best final projects.

For now however, let's dive in with the guidelines for Session 1:

Session 1, Week 1 (Mon Jan 10-Sun Jan 16)

1) Create a blog specifically for this course, and post a link to it as a comment to this post as soon as you can. Please post under a handle or pseudonym, and use the same one consistently throughout the course. Email me individually so I can link your blog handle with your real name.
2) Choose and set up an aggregator to follow this blog and those of the other students, so you can be notified of updates on a single page. If you're not familiar with these tools, here's a gentle overview:
3) Complete the Session 1 readings
4) By 11:59pm Sun Jan 16, post on your blog your response to the following:

The shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the 19 other people injured or killed on Jan 8, 2011, is being reported with many references to the role of social media, in terms of what motivated the tragedy and people's reactions to it. Find one of these references (include a link) and analyze, evaluate and apply what you feel are relevant concepts from at least four of the six required Session 1 readings to the role of social media in this story. You may post links to more than one news story to illustrate concepts from different readings if you like, but be sure your post is substantive enough to demonstrate your understanding of the relevant concepts from the papers you cite. Conclude by providing a brief definition of social computing, and comment on its potential power as a motivating force for positive and negative social phenomena.

Session 1, Week 2 (Mon Jan 17-Sun Jan 23)

1) Subscribe to the other students' blogs
2) Read as many posts as you like, but comment substantively on at least five.
3) Respond to comments on your blog, and those of other students, as appropriate. I'll be jumping in too, though I may not comment on every post every week.
4) Toward the end of the session, skim the other students' blogs 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 all your future posts.

Okay, that should be enough to get you started. Please post any questions about the course as a comment to this blog so all students can view them, and always feel free to make technical suggestions about good blog hosts, readers and other tools to make our communication easier.