Monday, March 7, 2011

Session 5--Social knowledge production and services

A quick technical note: for some reason, HansomeAvatar's blog wasn't triggering updates in most people's feed readers (including mine), so please double-check your links:

We're past the midpoint of the semester, and the quality of your blogs has been consistently excellent--for many of you I don't think the word excellent sufficiently captures the level of effort and insight you're devoting to your posts. Your interactions via comments have reminded me of some of the more tightly structured online communities we've posted about, and I hope you agree that the conversations within the comments have been a useful component of the course. Most of your final project proposals are understandably broad right now, and as you dive into the work, those blog comments are going to be one way to help you get some early reactions and focus on the most interesting and/or doable aspects of your topics. So when you post comments, keep them actionable; that is, linked with a specific aspect of the post and/or giving a specific suggestion.

Some of your final projects are concerned with applying successful aspects of social computing sites to more traditional information domains, and for you folks, this session's readings and assignment might be particularly well-timed. This dovetails with the last line of the course description:

" them with traditional professional equivalents, and evaluate how these diverse perspectives can inform one another."

By Sunday, March 13, 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 some of the ways in which the forms of information exchange you chose can inform each other. Use specific examples from the session's readings and screenshots from a relevant site when necessary 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.

By Friday, March 18, 11:59pm

Comment on at least 5 other students' posts. If there are people you haven't interacted with before, strive to even out your comments.

By Sunday, March 20, 11:59pm

Conclude your conversations--then get out there and enjoy Spring Break!

The Session 6 blog will go up on or about Monday March 28.

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