Best paper at HICSS-42! A Conceptual and Operational Definition of “Social Role” in Online Community

A shout out to my co-authors Eric Gleave, Howard (“Ted”) Welser, and Tom Lento – our paper “A conceptual and operational definition of “Social Role” in Online Community” got the best paper award at HICSS-42!  The Hawaii International Conference of System Sciences has featured a great series of mini tracks over the years.  The Persistent Conversations mini track has featured great work on threaded conversations, blogs, chats, wikis, and social media for more than a decade.  This year our paper appeared in the Digital Media: Content and Communication Track.


With a  very nice letter that puts the award in some context:


Ten papers out of 515 at the conference were selected for Best Paper Awards.  Many thanks to track organizers Karrie Karahalios and Fernanda Viegas.

A previous paper in 2006 also got best paper: You Are Who You Talk To: Detecting Roles in Usenet Newsgroups, by Danyel Fisher, Marc Smith, and Howard T. Welser

Two years before that in 2004 Fernanda Viegas and I also published a paper at HICSS that got best paper: Newsgroup Crowds and AuthorLines: Visualizing the Activity of Individuals in Conversational Cyberspaces,
by Ferndanda B. Viégas and Marc Smith.

Tom Erickson maintains a great listing of many years of HICSS papers.

Here is Tom Lento receiving the award at the conference in Hawaii earlier this month:


More Best Papers from this year…

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Forrester report on social media platforms – get a free copy

Forester recently released its review of leading social media platforms.

They conclude that communities are a powerful way for businesses to grow.  Community and social media have ROI!

The segment is getting crowded, over 100 vendors and growing, but only few cleared Forrester’s threshold for robustness and feature richness.

Forrester Graph

Forrester evaluated nine social media platforms in depth and called out Jive Software and Telligent Systems on the strengths of the administrative and platform features and the company’s support and customization track record.

The other leaders included in the report: KickApps and PluckAwarenessLithium Technologies, Mzinga, LiveWorld and Leverage Software.

This is great news for Telligent, of course, and we are happy to provide a copy of the Forrester report just for asking (and trading some contact information):

Others are noting that social analytics are key differentiators in social media platforms:

Telligent’s Harvest Social Media reporting platform provides a rich set of features for tracking activity in your community.

Video: Some dimensions of social media talk at ICWSM 2008

International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM) 2008

Some dimensions of social media
Marc Smith

Talk reviews sociological concepts of social media and visualizations of computer-mediated collective behavior.


Upcoming talk at Visualization and Data Analysis 2009 Conference

I will be presenting an overview of social media visualization soon at the conference on Visualization and Data Analysis 2009 in San Jose, January 19th,2009  (

9:30 am: Invited Presentation: Visualizing Roles in Social Media,
Marc A. Smith, Chief Social Scientist for the Telligent Corporation (

Abstract: Social media systems on the Internet allow for the collective creation of resources that can have real value. In the process of creating these resources social network structures are also created. Mining these structures and related patterns of activity can reveal the inner workings and dynamics of computer-mediated social spaces. By creating a series of images from these data sources key social roles that make up the engine of social production can be illustrated. The aggregate of these roles suggests a shift in focus in the study of these spaces from individual differences to the collective ensemble or ecology of social media.