2011 – Communities and Technologies Conference – 29 June – 2 July 2011, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

29 June – 2 July 2011
Queensland University of Technology

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The biennial Communities and Technologies (C&T) conference is the premier international forum for stimulating scholarly debate and disseminating research on the complex connections between communities – both physical and virtual – and information and communication technologies.

C&T 2011 welcomes participation from researchers, designers, educators, industry, and students from the many disciplines and perspectives bearing on the interaction between community and technology, including architecture, arts, business, design, economics, education, engineering, ergonomics, information technology, geography, health, humanities, law, media and communication studies, and social sciences. The conference program will include competitively selected, peer-reviewed papers, as well as pre-conference workshops, a doctoral consortium, and invited keynote and panel speakers.

Marcus Foth
Conference Chair

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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

Distinguishing social network attributes of online social roles

Many of my colleagues and I have applied social network analysis to Internet social media.  Email, mail lists, wikis, blogs, newsgroups, web boards, photo sharing systems and social networking services all create “network” structures.  In several papers we documented the ways that contributors in discussion groups in Usenet and similar threaded discussion repositories had distinct network patterns that reflected their different roles in the community.  We have identified several roles in terms of the ways they link to others and how those others link to one another.

Distinguishing social network attributes of online social roles
Distinguishing social network attributes of online social roles

Three roles are particularly critical, despite their relatively rare occurrence in most threaded discussion environments.  Answer people are the relatively rare people who provide a useful answer to potentially hundreds of question askers; discussion people reply to one another about the topics introduced by the topic starting “reply magnet”.  These roles are visible in the details of the patterns of reply and connection within social media repositories.  The relative balance of these roles (and others) determines the nature of the social media space: is it a discussion space, a flame zone, a Q&A exchange spot, or a place to swap binary files?  The balance of answer people to discussion people is one dimension of variation among social media spaces, for example.

Many of these patterns are described in:

Finding additional roles is an open area of research.  Other roles have been described but now need to be grounded in empricial measures of behavior and connection over time.  How many different roles exist?  What are the defining qualities of these roles?  What balances of roles with one another are necessary for effective collective production of valuable common goods like answers to questions, well written wiki documents, photo archives, social support and other kinds of online assets.