Book: Communities in Cyberspace – Ten Years Later

When the late Peter Kollock and I published Communities in Cyberspace with Routledge in 1999 there were few broadband connections, no iPhones, and little WiFi.  Today, there is an ebook version of the book and Amazon sells a version for the Kindle, a device it was hard to even imagine when the book was written.  Google lets you browse most of it and search all of it.  But the key ideas of the volume:  identity, interaction, collective action and emergent order remain relevant in a wireless broadband netbook mobile social network real-time web world.  The book is now ten years old.

I. Introduction

Introduction to Communities in Cyberspace, Peter Kollock and Marc Smith

“Since 1993, computer networks have grabbed enormous public attention. The major news and entertainment media have been filled with stories about the “information superhighway” and of the financial and political fortunes to be made on it. Computer sales continue to rise and more and more people are getting connected to “the Net”. Computer networks, once an obscure and arcane set of technologies used by a small elite, are now widely used and the subject of political debate, public interest, and popular culture. The “information superhighway” competes with a collection of metaphors that attempt to label and define these technologies. Others, like “cyberspace,” “the Net,” “online,” and “the web,” highlight different aspects of network technology and its meaning, role and impact. Whichever term is used, it is clear that computer networks allow people to create a range of new social spaces in which to meet and interact with one another.”

More details from the book…

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Book: Online Deliberation: Design, Research, and Practice

2009 - ODBook-site-logo

The Second Conference on Online Deliberation: Design, Research, and Practice (OD2005/DIAC-2005) was held at Stanford University May 20-22, 2005. From that event there is now a book,  Online Deliberation: Design, Research, and Practice, edited by Todd Davies and Seeta Peña Gangadharan (CSLI Publications, November 2009).  All content in the book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

I will call out a few of the many interesting chapters, one of which I contributed to:

Chapter 5: Friends, Foes, and Fringe: Norms and Structure in Political Discussion Networks (John Kelly, Danyel Fisher, and Marc Smith, pp. 83-93)

And two from colleagues who report on tools for facilitating political debate and decision making:

Chapter 6: Searching the Net for Differences of Opinion (Warren Sack, John Kelly, and Michael Dale, pp. 95-104)

Chapter 26: Online Civic Deliberation with E-Liberate (Douglas Schuler, pp. 293-302)

The book is a great guide to the many ways computer-mediated interaction technologies are being used to build consensus or tear it apart!

2009 - December - Online Deliberation Book Cover

Elinor Ostrom wins the 2009 Nobel Prize for Economics

Professor Elinor Ostrom has been awarded the Nobel prize in Economics for her work on common pool resources (CPRs) and the management of shared resources.  Her work has great relevance for understanding the creation of many public goods on the internet.  She teaches at Indiana University where she is Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science, Co-Director, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs, Part-Time, Co-Director, Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change.

At the core of her extensive, empirical, research into the ways humans share common goods and resources is a set of eight core design principles.  These “8” principles for successful creation and consumption of a resource are documented in the book “Governing the Commons

2009 - Elinor Ostrom - 8 CPR Design Principles

Book: E-Research: Transformation in Scholarly Practice

A new book E-Research: Transformation in Scholarly Practice edited by Nicholas W. Jankowski on the ways social science research is being changed by the rise of social media has just been released by Routledge.  My colleagues and I contributed a chapter on the ways that information visualization of social media is a useful technique to identify research questions and discover answers about the nature of human association when mediated by computation.  The volume contains work from an all-star line-up of researchers who address the opportunities and challenges of performing research with computer-mediated data about social life.

The blurb about the book describes it as:

“No less than a revolutionary transformation of the research enterprise is underway. This transformation extends beyond the natural sciences, where ‘e-research’ has become the modus operandi, and is penetrating the social sciences and humanities, sometimes with differences in accent and label. Many suggest that the very essence of scholarship in these areas is changing. The everyday procedures and practices of traditional forms of scholarship are affected by these and other features of e-research. This volume, which features renowned scholars from across the globe who are active in the social sciences and humanities, provides critical reflection on the overall emergence of e-research, particularly on its adoption and adaptation by the social sciences and humanities.”

Our chapter is “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Questions: Visualization Techniques for Social Science Discovery in Computational Spaces”, co-authored by  Howard T. Welser, Thomas Lento, Marc Smith, Eric Gleave and Itai Himelboim.  In it, we describe the ways that using information visualizations of social media data sets is a useful way of discovering insights, patterns, and clusters.  We illustrate the paper with several examples of social media information visualizations that display the range of behavior among contributors to social media spaces.

Here is the table of contents for the volume:
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Sociology of the Internet Awards from CITASA – The Communications and Information Technology section of the American Sociological Association


This year’s CITASA awards have been announced!  CITASA is the Communications and Information Technology section of the American Sociological Association.  It gathers together more than 300 sociologists interested in the ways groups of people make use of computation and networks. This year the line up is uniformly high quality scholarship about the nature of societies that increasingly rely upon information technology.

You are welcome to join the CITASA Business Meeting on Aug 8 from 9:30-10:10am at the Parc 55 Hotel where the recipients will be presented with their awards. A description of the awards and list of past recipients can be found on the CITASA website:

2009 CITASA Student Paper Award

Daniel A. Menchik and Xiaoli Tian (University of Chicago)

Putting Social Context into Text: The Semiotics of E-mail Interaction. American Journal of Sociology 114(2): 332-370. (2008).

Committee members: Zeynep Tufekci (Chair), Lori Kendall, and Anabel Quan-Haase

2009 CITASA Award for Public Sociology

Peter Kollock (University of California at Los Angeles)

Committee members: Michael Macy (Chair), Marc Smith, Keith Hampton

2009 CITASA Paper Award

Eszter Hargitta, Jason Gallo, and Matthew Kane (Northwestern University)

Cross-ideological discussions among conservative and liberal bloggers. Public Choice 134: 67-86. (2008).

Honorable mention:

Lori Kendall (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

How do issues of gender and sexuality influence the structures and process of qualitative internet research? pp. 99-118. In Internet Inquiry: Conversations about method, Annette Markham and Nancy Baym (eds). Los Angeles: Sage (2008).

Committee members: Hiroshi Ono (Chair), Rich Ling, and Bernie Hogan

2009 CITASA Book Award

Tarleton Gillespie (Cornell University). (MIT Press, 2007).

Committee members: Leslie Shade (Chair), Marc Smith, and Alison Powell

2009 CITASA William F. Ogburn Career Achievement Award

Elihu Katz (University of Pennsylvania)

Committee members: Anabel Quan-Haase (Co-Chair), Barry Wellman (Co-Chair), and Keith Hampton