Monday, February 21, 2011

Session 4--Social role, capital and trust

While it's tempting to abandon the planned course structure and hold another current event driven session akin to the first--this time about the role of social computing in the political upheaval in Egypt and elsewhere--instead I'll use that as an example of the type of topic you might consider for your final projects. By the end of next session I'll be asking you to commit to a final project topic, so now's a good time to talk about the guidelines.

Final project guidelines
  • Identify a question rising out of the readings or your own experience that you'd like to explore in more depth. You may work alone or in pairs. Send me an email with your proposed question, and how you plan to address it, no later than Monday, March 7. Please do so even if we've exchanged email about your final project ideas already, since hopefully they'll change at least somewhat as a result of this session.
  • 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 to structure your investigation, and conclude with a reflective discussion section where you evaluate your results in light of your original question. Planning, flexibility and persistence will also be key components of your grade.
  • Length should be roughly 15 double-spaced pages for a solo project, not counting screenshots (required) and bibliography. However, 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 1

Session 4

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.

By Sunday, February 27, 11:59pm
  • After completing the readings, find, join and compare two online communities that implement different social 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 have not visited or blogged about before.
  • Compare the two mechanisms, and include one anecdote and screenshot of an illustrative personal experience you had with each where social 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.
  • Suggest improvements to each site's role/capital/trust mechanism, based on the community, four of the six Session 4 readings and your own experience with other sites. Note that the JCMC readings have migrated to the Wiley online library available through Hamilton at this link
Important: 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. Your goal here is to invite discussion and suggestions.

By Friday, March 4, 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 project proposal.

By Sunday, March 6, 11:59pm

Conclude your discussions, and remember to email me your final project proposal the following day.

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