SI 684 (shadow
course 884 for PhD students)
Professor Paul Resnick
winter 2002: alternating Tuesdays 10-11AM (1/21, 2/4, 2/18, 3/4, 3/18,
and alternating Wednesdays 11AM-noon in 314 West Hall (1/29, 2/12, 3/12, 3/26, 4/9)
by appointment otherwise at 3120 SI North-- send email
This course is intended to help students to analyze online interaction environments with an eye toward design. For the purpose of this course, a community is defined as a group of people who sustain interaction over time. The group may be held together by a common identity, a collective purpose, or merely by the individual utility gained from the interactions. An online interaction environment is an electronic forum, accessed through computers or other electronic devices, in which community members can conduct some or all of their interactions. We will use the term eCommunity as shorthand, both for communities that conduct all of their interactions online and for communities that use on-line interaction to supplement face-to-face interactions.
Two main threads will weave through the course, based on the two main texts. One thread will be concerned with the practical issues of design and use of online tools to support communities, and how choices that must be made in design can impact the function and style of the resulting community. The second thread will focus on psychology and sociology theories that provide a frame to better understand communities in general. These theoretical pieces will provide a lens for better understanding the implications of choices made on the more practical level.
At the end of this course, a student should be able to analyze, design, or moderate an on-line communication space that is intended to support a group of people who are coming together for some purpose.
Students will be asked early in the semester to pick an existing on-line community. All the assignments will involve observing, analyzing, and redesigning that community.
There will be four short writing assignments (5-7 pages each), analyzing the community from four perspectives:
Students will comment on each other’s short papers. Students are also encouraged to elicit feedback on their short papers from members of the communities they are studying. A final paper will incorporate and tie together the four short papers and the feedback from other students. Students will also present their findings in class.
Ph.D. students who take the “shadow” version of this course will do the assignment above and also be required to prepare a research proposal for how they would study some aspect of the community. This will require reading additional material from the research literature in order to develop a question and research plan that will produce knowledge that interests other researchers.
SI 501 and SI 504. 502 is a co-requisite, meaning that it can be taken at the same time as this course.
In particular, students need:
Students who convince themselves and the instructor that they have
equivalent preparation on these two dimensions can waive the formal
In addition, students need to know what kinds of tools are available to supported distributed, synchronous and asynchronous communication (e.g., chat, instant messaging, message boards, audio and video conferencing, live application sharing). Students who are unfamiliar with these but are comfortable learning new technologies on their own will have the opportunity to explore these at their own pace. This course will spend very little time explicitly teaching about technology, but will frequently assume it as background.
The required texts, which we’ll be reading from over the semester, are:
Kim, Amy Jo (2000) Community Building on the Web
Wenger, Etienne (1998) Communities of
Smith, Marc A and Peter Kollock, eds. Communities in Cyberspace
Hirschmann, A. O. Exit, Voice, and Loyalty
We’ll be reading excerpts from the following books, but the excerpts will be copied in the course pack.
Minow, Martha, Not Only For Myself: Identity,
Politics, and the Law
Sunstein, Cass, republic.com
Putnam, Robert, Bowling Alone
All the required readings except for the four books above are available in one coursepack, at Ulrich's. A copy of the coursepack will also available on reserve at the undergrad library, but it may take a couple weeks for it to get there.
All the supplemental readings are available in a second collection that Shirley Culliton keeps, in the SI Main Office, 304 West Hall. Feel free to borrow and Xerox whichever articles interest you.
This session will provide an overview of the course and explore the metaphor of community as applied to on-line interactions.
Sproull, Lee. Online Communities. Draft prepared for The Internet Encyclopedia, edited by Hossein Bidgoli, to be published by John Wiley and sons.
Galston, W. A. (1999). Does the Internet Strengthen Community?, [Web]. Institute for Philosophy & Public Policy. Available: www.puaf.umd.edu/ippp/fall1999/internet_community.htm [2000, 9/17/00].
Rheingold, Howard. Virtual Communities. Chapter 11 in The Community of the Future, edited by Hesselbeing, Goldsmith, Beckhard, and Schubert. 1998. pps. 115-122.
Hafner, Katie. The Epic Saga of The Well: The World’s Most Influential Online Community (And It’s Not AOL). Wired 5.05 May 1997.
This session will examine alternative metaphors for on-line interaction environments: networks and third places
Oldenberg, R. The Great Good Place. Chapter 2, pages 20-42.
Wellman, Barry. Computer Networks as Social Networks. Science 293(14 Sept. 2001). Pp. 2031-2034.
This session will examine distinctions between public and private communication, issues of informed consent, and other responsibilities of ethical investigators. We will also discuss procedures for external review of research plans, through the IRB.
Frankel, M.S. and S. Siang, Ethical and Legal Aspects of Human Subjects Research on the Internet: A Report of a Workshop. 1999, American Association for the Advancement of Science. http://www.aaas.org/spp/sfrl/projects/intres/main.htm
Blanket IRB submission for the course, approved by the IRB, which allows you to do passive observation of your eCommunity until you get individual approval for interviews or other interactions.
Additional Readings in different concentrations:
Bassett, E.H. and K. O'Riordan, Ethics of Internet Research: Contesting the Human Subjects Research Model. 2002. http://www.nyu.edu/projects/nissenbaum/ethics_bassett.html
Walther, J.B., Research Ethics in Internet-Enabled Research: Human Subjects Issues and Methodological Myopia. 2002. http://www.nyu.edu/projects/nissenbaum/ethics_walther.html
Bruckman, A., Studying the Amateur Artist: A Perspective on Disguising Data Collected in Human Subjects Research on the Internet. 2002. http://www.nyu.edu/projects/nissenbaum/ethics_bruckman.html
This session will examine the variety of purposes that a community may fulfill, from the perspective of various stakeholders.
Kim, A. J. (2000) Chapter 1: Purpose. Pgs.1-26.
Each student will also be responsible for at least one additional reading or website exploration and be prepared to summarize it for the class.
Additional Readings in different concentrations:
Schlager, M.S. (1997). TAPPED-IN: A new on-line teacher community concept for the next generation of Internet technology.
Finholt, Thomas A. Collaboratories. Chapter submitted for the Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, B. Cronin, ed.
Raymond, Eric. The Cathedral and the Bazaar.
Rossney, Robert (1996). Metaworlds. Wired 4.06. June 1996.
Student papers from last year by Derek Hansen (Chess) and Jung-woo Sohn (StarCraft) pending permission from the students
Price, Vincent and Joseph N. Cappella. Online Deliberation and its Influence: The Electronic Dialogue Project in Campaign 2000. Paper presented to the annual meetings of the American Association of Public Opinion Research, Montreal, CA, May 2001.
William. My Obsession. Wired
7.01 January 1999.
Cummings, J., L. Sproull, and S. Kiesler, Beyond Hearing: Where real world and online support meet. Group Dynamics, 2002. 6: p. 78-88.
Not sure. Find a good article and I’ll add it to next year’s syllabus.
Agre, P. Networking on the Net. http://dlis.gseis.ucla.edu/people/pagre/network.html
Hampton, K. and B. Wellman, Examining Community in the Digital Neighbourhood: Early Results from Canada's Wired Suburb, in Digital Cities: Technologies, Experiences, and Future Perspectives, T. Ishida and K. Isbister, Editors. 2000, Springer-Verlag: Berlin. p. 475-492.
Final papers from last year's students: Hans Masing, and Jun Zhang (pending approval from those students).
Final paper from last year's students: Nathan Parham and Walter Mosley (pending approval from those students)
What technologies are used in eCommunities, and what kinds of interactions patterns do they afford that would be difficult without the technology?
This session will be conducted on-line, in person. That is, we will meet physically, but use our "ElseWhere" technology to type our conversations. Location TBA.
Kim, p. 27-50.
Resnick, P. (2000) Beyond
Bowling Together: SocioTechnical Capital. Chapter 29 in "HCI in the New
Millenium", edited by John M. Carroll. Addison-Wesley. 2001, pages
Pick the e-community that you plan to study and set up and your research disclaimer. See research ethics and procedures document with details on how to do this. Submit drafts of your materials so they can be sent to the IRB by January 28.
This session we will explore the structure of activity in e-communities: the places where it occurs, its time structuring through events, and how repeated activities can be invested with meaning through rituals.
Kim, pp. 51-73 and
This session we will examine the roles that participants play in online communities. Who are the leaders and who are the followers? What function does a moderator serve? What are the different roles of old-timers and newcomers? What are the trajectories by which people move into different roles?
Kim, Ch. 4 & 5
IRB materials must be submitted to the IRB by this date.
Beginning with this session, we will examine one theoretical perspective on community, the lens of communities of practice. The first chapter describes practices, what a community does, in terms of three basic concepts: negotiation of meaning, participation, and reification. The second chapter describes practices as the thing that binds a community together. The communal glue of practice has three dimensions: mutual engagement, a joint enterprise, and a shared repertoire of ways of doing things. While the community of practice theoretical lens is not the only one we’ll employ this semester, it is an important that we’ll build on.
[Note: This reading is hard to understand (at least it is for me). But I think it’s worth it. You’ll need to allocate a lot of time to it, over several sittings and, ideally, informal discussions with your classmates. If you haven’t done so already, I recommend that you read Paul Edwards’ advice on how to read a book, and follow it, especially for readings from this book.]
Wenger Vignette 1 through Chapter 1 (pages 18-71)
Wenger Introduction (pp.
1-17). This may be of interest to students with a background in sociology,
anthropology, or education. If that’s not you, I think you’ll find that
this section is not the best way to get started on reading the book. (Ph.D.
students are strongly encouraged to read this section, but I suggest that you
wait until after reading the book rather than starting with it.)
Wenger Chapters 2 and 3
Description of the e-community that you propose
to analyze in terms of purpose(s), technologies used, and activities. (Bring 2
copies, one for the professor, one for a classmate).
This session we will examine how people can tell who they’re interacting with online. Member profiles can provide additional information about individuals, beyond their behavior within the community, but the information in these profiles may not be trustworthy.
Kim, Chapter 3
Donath, J. Identity and Deception in the Virtual Community. Chapter 2 in Smith and Kollock.
How do communities (and sub-communities) interact with each other? We will focus particularly on the ideas of bridging and bonding, splits and merges, fragmentation and unity.
Kim, Ch. 9
The Natural Life Cycle of Mailing Lists (author unknown-- online)
Putnam, Robert. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. pp. 15-23
Sunstein, Cass. Republic.com, chapters 3 and 4. Pages 51-104.
Van Alstyne, M. and
Brynjolfsson, E. Electronic Communities: Global Village or Cyberbalkanization?
Professor Van Alstyne has a tool available for simulating his Cyberbalkanization model with various parameters. Ask him about it if you're interested.
on a classmate’s community description.
This session looks at the issue of inter-group relations from the perspective of communities of practice.
Wenger Chapters 4 and 5
three sessions will discuss who people are when they interact in on-line communities,
as inherited from socially constructed groupings. One perspective (Wenger)
defines a person by the groups in which they are able to act appropriately.
Other authors (Burkhalter, Minow) stress that group identities depend in part
on our self-identification but also on whether others, both group members and
non-members, claim us as members of those groups. Turkle explores the ways in
which individuals can experiment with identities they may be unable to or
uninterested in claiming in physical interactions.
Minow, Martha. Not only for Myself: Identity, Politics and the Law. Pp. 9-58.
Description of your community in terms of roles, practices, and self-presentation. (5-7 pages). (Bring 2 copies, one for the professor, one for a classmate).
Burkhalter, Byron. Reading Race Online: Discovering Racial Identity in Usenet Discussions. Chapter 3 in Smith and Kollock.
S. Constructions and Reconstructions of
the Self in Virtual Reality. Mind,
Culture, and Activity, 1(
3), Summer 1994.
Wenger pps. 143-163 and 173-187
Comments on a classmate’s
second short paper.
The next four sessions deal with social and technical means for governing behavior within an eCommunity.
Kollock, Peter., & Smith, Marc. Managing the Virtual Commons. In Computer-Mediated Communication: Linguistic, Social, and Cross-Cultural Perspectives, edited by Susan Herring. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 1996. pp. 109-128. Available online at www.sscnet.uclas.edu/soc/faculty/kollock/papers/vcommons.htm
Kollock, Peter., The
Economies of Online Cooperation: Gifts and Public Goods in Cyberspace, in Communities
in Cyberspace. Chapter 9 in Smith and Kollock.
Ostrom, Elinor. Managing the Commons.
Kim, chapter 6
Reid, Elizabeth. Hierarchy and Power: Social Control in Cyberspace. Chapter 5 in Smith and Kollock
Smith, Anna Duval. Problems of Conflict Management in Virtual Communities. Chapter 6 in Smith and Kollock
Herring, Susan, Job-Sluer, Kirk, Scheckler, Riebecca, and Barab, Sasha (2002). Searching for Safety Online: Managing "Trolling" in a Feminist Forum. The Information Society. Volume 18, Number 5. 371-384.
Description of your community in terms of identities and inter-group relations. (Bring 2 copies, one for the professor, one for a classmate).
Hafner, Katie. Web Sites Begin to Self Organize. New York Times. January 18, 2001.
Resnick, Paul, Iacovou, Neophytos, Suchak, Mitesh, Bergstrom, Peter, and Riedl, John, "GroupLens: An Open Architecture for Collaborative Filtering of Netnews," In Proceedings of CSCW 94 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, New York: ACM. 175-186. (Available online at http://www.si.umich.edu/~presnick/papers/cscw94/GroupLens.htm).
Chris, Resnick, Paul, and Zeckhauser, Richard, The Market for Evaluations. American
Economic Review 89(3): 564-584.
Frauenfelder, Mark. Revenge of the Know-It-Alls: Inside the Web's free-advice revolution. Wired 8.07, July 2000.
Resnick, Paul, Zeckhauser, Richard, Friedman, Eric, and Kuwabara, Ko. Reputation Systems. Communications of the ACM, 43(12), December 2000, pages 45-48.
Friedman, Eric and Paul Resnick (2001). The Social Cost of Cheap Pseudonyms. Journal of Economics and Management Strategy 10(2): 173-199.
Resnick, Paul and Richard Zeckhauser (2002). Trust Among Strangers in Internet Transactions: Empirical Analysis of eBay's Reputation System. Working Paper available online at http://www.si.umich.edu/~presnick/papers/ebayNBER/index.html
See also the Reputations Research Network: http://databases.si.umich.edu/reputations/
Comments on a classmate’s
third short paper.
Who decides how a community’s practices will evolve? What does the degree of ease of entry and exit from e-community imply for power relations and the long-term sustainability of a community?
Hirschman, A. O.
(1970) Exit, Voice, and Loyalty : Responses to Decline in Firms,
Organizations, and States
Wenger pp. 214-222
Wenger pp. 164-172 and 188-213
Wenger pps 223-240.
Coate, John. Cyberspace Innkeeping: Building Online Community. 1998. Available online at http://www.sfgate.com/~tex/innkeeping.
Kollock, Peter. Design Principles for Online Communities. PC Update 15(5): 58-60. Jun e1998.
Godwin, Mike. Nine
Principles for Making Virtual Communities Work. Wired 2.06, June 1994.
Wenger Chapters 11 and 12.
Paul Edwards' tips, available online at http://www.si.umich.edu/~pne/acadtalk.htm
Patrick Winston's tips, available online at http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~brd/Teaching/Giving-a-talk/phw.html
These sessions are set aside for students to present to the class their analyses of the community of their choice, and the recommendations they have to improve the community they have studied. Students will also present any feedback they have received from the community regarding the suggestions they have made. Your final presentation should integrate all the prior pieces as well as an analysis of norms and governance in your community and any feedback you received from your community in regard to your prior analysis.
Final paper, integrating and incorporating revisions of the four shorter
papers, together with recommendations for changes in the community. (For Ph.D. students, these analyses will form the background
section for a research proposal. In addition, you will need to propose some
future research, including a literature review that will presumably not be
limited to the required readings for this class, and substantively responding
to the “10 questions” by adequately motivating the question and specifying
the research methods that would be applied.)