Sunday, April 19, 2009

Session 7 Management and conflict

Internet and related communications technologies support an emerging environment : “social software.” As M. Madison point out: "social software” specifically to describe a class of computer programs, environments, tools, and protocols that are designed to enhance individual productivity or sociability in group settings on the Internet or other computer networks. computing is about people, not merely about information. Computing builds connections, networks, and pathways for information and activity, channels that constrain the individual and that enable the group. It concerned freedom and sovereignty, and specifically how to conceptualize the relationship of the individual not to the individual machine. We face new challenges in appreciating the relationship between the law and groups.

One site I choose for my final project is Wikipedia. It is a sort of online encyclopedia that consists of content contributed to and edited by the user population itself. The quality of Wikipedia content appears to vary, depending on the depth and level of engagement of the relevant user population. As it is a well developed website, it has fully developed policy and guidelines as shown in screen shot one. We can category them into five main parts:
  1. Behavioral: standards for behavior on Wikipedia to make it a pleasant experience for everyone.
  2. Content and style: define which topics are welcome on Wikipedia, and provide quality and naming standards.
  3. Deletion: the body of policies dealing with page deletion.
  4. Enforcement: what actions editors can take to enforce other policies.
  5. Legal and copyright: law-based rules about what material may be used here, and remedies for misuse.

Also the following links provides some useful information on its copyright policy, its administration and contributions.

Three examples to break the rules:

Example 1: An open proxy

A proxy server that is accessible by any Internet user. It allows users within a network group to store and forward Internet services to reduce and control the bandwidth used by the group. With an open proxy, any user on the Internet is able to use this forwarding service. Open proxies may be blocked from editing for any period at any time to deal with editing abuse.

This is the problem of free-rider as explained in Peter Kollock and Marc Smith’s paper. A public good is a resource from which all may benefit, regardless of whether they have helped create the good. The temptation is to enjoy a public good without contributing to its production, but if all reach this decision, the good is never created and all suffer. Like in this open proxy example, the bandwidth used by the group is the public resource. If everyone try to use it without control. Then everyone is suffered. There is often a tension between individual and collective rationality. To avoid this situation, some rules have been proposed:

  • Group boundaries are clearly defined.
  • Rules governing the use of collective goods are well matched to local needs and conditions.
  • Most individuals affected by these rules can participate in modifying the rules.
  • The rights of community members to devise their own rules is respected by external authorities
  • A system for monitoring member's behavior exists; this monitoring is undertaken by the community members themselves
  • A graduated system of sanctions is used
  • Community members have access to low-cost conflict resolution mechanisms
Here we can set a maximum limit for internet user to forbid the user to over use it and blocked for the user for any period at any time to deal with this abuse.

Example 2: Disruptive editors

They can be blocked from editing for short or long amounts of time. Extremely disruptive editors may be banned from Wikipedia. If you do not respect these bans, bait banned users, and help them out, you may be banned. Bans can be appealed to Jimbo Wales or the Arbitration Committee, depending on the nature of the ban.

When content restrictions were removed from a question answering community and social technologies were introduced, participants begin to focus less on topical content and more on one another. This increased site participation, social support and open normative debates, but it also increased conflict, rogue behaviors and factionalism. Sometimes the user may not respect the bans and help the banned user out. Severely punishing such a person might alienate him or her from the community, causing greater problems. Here we can use a graduated system of sanctions. The initial sanction for breaking a rule is very low, such as giving them a warning, blocking them for a short period, While sanctions could be as severe as banishment from the group.

Example 3: Uploading non-free images

avoid uploading non-free images; fully describe images' sources and copyright details on their description pages, and try to make images as useful and reusable as possible. They can be blocked from uploading images for short or long amounts of time.
“Social software” supports the creation and persistence of informal, dynamic groups of people, and it makes those groups visible and salient to a larger degree than they have been before. That salience should prompt law and policy to rethink historic skepticism of informal collectives, particularly in light of suggestions that the loose constraints that define informal groups may enable them to do a lot of good.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Session 6:Online identity and interaction

An online identity is a social identity that an Internet user establishes in online communities and websites. Although some people prefer to use their real names online, most Internet users prefer to be anonymous, identifying themselves by means of pseudonyms, which reveal varying amounts of personally identifiable information.

The online identity used in our Ics691 class on is mostly on the following major aspects: the user's posts, the user's personal profile, and the user's account. It includes some aspects include: the user's selected username (some use their real name, others make up a name). The online identities presented on can be viewed as screenshot. There are many login accounts.

2) Write two informal use scenarios based on your observations of existing users.Scenario 1: We want to post what we read in our assignments.
The first step we need to login, or if we don't have an existing blogger, create one in The user will choose a blogger title. (Ics 691 social computing.), the blog address: and the word verification: filling the word in the images. If it is accepted, you can choose a template for your blog. Of course, you can always edit the template. Then the system will generate a personnel profile according to what you entered. You can post whatever you want in your blog.

Scenario 2: We want to comment to other posts.
The first step we need to login. Then press the comment option. We will have a text editable window to write comments. Select a profile (I use Google account.) and press Post Comment. After entering the word verification, your comments are post successfully.

Online interaction brings the possibility of mass interaction. Steve Whittaker, Loren Terveen, Will Hill and Lynn Cherny explore the demographics, conversational strategies and the interactivity of mass interaction by Usenet. They extend the common ground model into online mass interactions. Common ground is a key principle of face-to-face conversation, and refers to the fact that participants must establish a degree of mutual knowledge for their conversational contributions to be understood. To establish a common ground in huge set of conversational participants with potentially diverse, a strategy of moderation is employed and all interactions are filtered by a small set of moderators who are knowledgeable about the goals and history of the interactions. The mass interactions are explored in three areas:
(a) demographics - size, familiarity and moderation;
(b) conversation strategies - FAQ production, message length, and cross-posting;
(c) interactivity - the extent of conversational threading.

Whittaker etc analysis the affects of demographics and conversation strategies on interactivities. They predict that FAQ production decreased cross-posting and greater message length should all increase interactivity. They try to test their predictions in Usenet. I am very impressed that most of their predictions are disconfirmed. They find that shorter messages actually promoted interactivity although they predict that great message length should increase interactivity. It surprised me very much that they can always find a reason to explain all of these disconfirmed predictions.

Judith Donath introduced the signal theory for online identity. personal identity is not just on what you enter in the profiles, which are perceivable features, but also on the actions that indicate the presence of hidden qualities. Signaling theory models the relationship between signals and qualities. He point out that assessment signals is inherently reliable, because producing the signal requires possessing the indicated quality. The conventional signals are not inherently reliable. The self-descriptions in online profiles are mostly conventional signals. The stronger ties bring reliability to the profile, and a large set of weaker ties expands the scale and scope of the network. To increase the trust and reliability, several methods have been used. One is to increase the amount of knowledge about the others. Also costs may discourage deception but not be high enough to guarantee honesty.
In our ics691 class, we know that all of us are students in university of Hawaii, Manoa. We form small groups and have high reliability. Each of us has different blog template. Some are very fashion and some may be a little plain. I believe that the one has longer post spends much more time than the one has short post.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Session 5: Social knowledge production and services: Peer production in online environments vs. in-person collaboration

For this session I choose discuss on “Peer production in online environments vs. in-person collaboration” as I am impressed by the success of Wikipedia

The peer production of open source software development is very successful. It shows that the networked communication can build individual contributions into collective, synergistic projects without intervention from formal institutions or dependence on conventional expertise. Generating from the Open Source software development, “Linus’s Law” (Raymond, 1998) appears. It states that “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” That is any problem is ultimately trivial in software development where, according to this law, the number of people contributing to a project provides a useful indication of its quality. Paul Graham claims that “The method of ensuring quality” in peer production. That is: the good stuff spreads, and the bad gets ignored” (Graham, 2005).

All the laws based on the assumption: more people making more changes only make things better. That is numbers and time work in favor of quality. In many cases they may, but in some they appear not to. Open Source software is for the developers which is easier to work in a networked communication environment, but ordinary users are quite unlike developers. It is difficult to transfer from Open Source software which produced mostly by developers to a project involved contributions from ordinary people like Wikipedia.

Do these laws can be extended to all peer productions ? How we guarantee that the good stuff remains and not the bad remain? here comes the boundary of these laws.

  1. Freedom of speech is not the same as the freedom to replace other’s versions of the truth with your own.
  2. Though many eyeballs survey a project and many hands update it, work on the system is not necessarily distributed equally. Hot topic, of course attracts more eyeballs. So Wikipedia limits the trust it puts in “improvement” in the quotation above to “widely circulated articles”.

With all of these constrains, many huge distributed projects are produced online, Wikipedia is one of the very successful peer productions in online environment. What Wikipedia impressed me most is that: it reports the daily news and update on every topic (see screenshot for example.) As an ordinary user, you can easily grab the new developments in your interested areas and as a developer, you can post your contributions easily.

For the in person cooperation, the group can focus on more specific topic. The group members are less variety than the online communities. They are easier to get agreement on the topic and produce a consistent project while the online peer production may constantly change. What is flawed today may be flawless tomorrow. But the in person cooperation are limited by the frequencies the member meet and the place they are located. Not many people can join the cooperation. It’s difficult to produce complex and large project. The in person cooperation can be improved greatly by online tools, like email etc. With the help of online tools, more people can join the cooperation, not just the people who can meet face to face.

So we can say the best way is the combination of peer production and in person cooperation. But there are some boundary on the varieties of the cooperation people. Beyond the threshold, more cooperation may not bring in high quality result. As more and more people join the cooperation, we face the same problems of the quantitative assessments and the qualitative judgments people tend to make.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Session 4--Social role, capital and trust

Gleave, etc ‘s paper focused on ‘social role’ in online communities. They try to define the ‘social role’ conceptually and operationally. Comparing with their ‘social role’ definition, I like the way they extracting online social role. In their diagram, based on the collective data, extracting social role by watching people with specific action patterns and discovering their relation with the remaining communities. Iteratively refine the ‘social role’ until we get stable conclusion. Then we can predict this new ‘social role’ pattern in other communities. From this paper, in the first time I know how social scientist analysize an online communities.
To extract model from huge collective data which seems unrelated is very difficult. Gleave, etc point out that “Building a catalog of social roles is an important first step towards understanding complex social systems” . It allows us to reduce the huge systems to a relatively small number of roles. There two general ways to do social role analysis: interpretive and structural. Interpretive analyses focus on the collections of e behaviors while Structural analyses mainly deal with metrics of social structure. Both approaches have their own limitations. Gleave, etc combines these two methods together in online community analysis. They obtained very interesting results.
To explore their methods, I joined two online communities. One is My user name is yw123. It is Hawaii's Sports Car Club of America's official forum. The homepage attracts me at the first. After I login, all are gone. I got an almost empty forum. I need to give the topic name I am interested. That takes me a while to do it as I don’t even know what kind of topic they have. So I can say it is not well organized and classification. It is very help if it can post the catalog after user login. I do learn a lot about the sport car in this forum. It’s very useful. I give me trust to this forum although I don’t know wither the forum check the information post are correct or not.
Frankly say, I can’t analysize this community like Gleave did on Usenet and Wikipedia. There are so many members and so many posts, I can figure out who plays any role in this net. It has the administrator who I believe play a crucial role in the communities. The members can communicate directly or they can post their questions in the forum. The forum has tree structure. It includes five sub forums , each forum has their own specific topic. Inside each sub forum, there are several interested topic etc. According to member’s contribution, the administrator may assign some member’s priority to members. The members with high priority play important roles than others. Maybe like the administrator of sub-forum. Maybe they have some right to adjust other’s post etc. That all I guess as I just join in and don’t have any priority.
The next step is to analyze the context of participation and the content of behaviors of the actors whose interactions formed those social network structures. Williams, etc investigate the relationship between the Internet and social capital. He points out instead of goods and services, the things being used and created are personal relationships and the benefits that come with them. He focused on the effect of the network although social capital may also have relation with network itself. As the online systems are so different with the traditional society, new concepts “bridging” and “bonding” are introduced. “Bridging” is the connection between social networks. It is broaden and weak. “Bonding” is the connection between strongly tie individuals. It is strong with little diversity. Williams tries to set a measure scale on these two concepts and got some interesting results. Some social actors interact and form a network of individuals, resulting in positive affective bonds. Some interactions are qualitatively different from others, meaning that different types and levels of social capital will result.

According to his opinion, the Hawaii's Sports Car Club of America's official forum I joined is clone to bonding as it has very little diversity. But I feel the connections between members are still too weak for bonding and are too strong for “bridging”. I think it should belong to some area in between. To have some experience on social capital, I joined a very popular net, the Wikipedia: It’s typical ‘bridging’ site. Anyone can join in and anybody can post. The username I use is also yw123. This is a very famous net. It is very well organized and classified. I use it as a science directory quite often. There is one part I feel it need to improve. It does not check the information people post. That is the information you got from Wikipedia may be wrong. As more and more people use this net, it is a great help if the information is checked before it is allowed to post.
Paolo investigate the trust concept and explore how trust is used and modeled in online systems. He point out trust is considered as the judgment expressed by one user about another user, often directly and explicitly, sometimes indirectly through an evaluation of the artifacts produced by that user or his/her activity on the system. “trust” is the term to indicate different types of social relationships between two users, such as friendship, appreciation, and interest. These trust relationships are used by the systems in order to infer some measure of importance about the different users and influence their visibility on the system. Ellen etc complement his opinion by introduces a new generic model to incentivize cooperation between parties that are engaged in the paradox of a social dilemma. Eryilmaz etc explores the design and evaluation of a trust model to establish trust management in an open source collaborative information repository for an emergency response environment. Nicole B. Ellison etc give an example by examining the relationship between use of Facebook, a popular online social network site, and the formation and maintenance of social capital.

As for the two nets I choose, I give my trust to the Hawaii's Sports Car Club of America's official forum as I know very little on sport car. I choose it because I happened to find it and the homepage attracts me. After I joined in, I realized that it’s a sport car club. I accept all the information I got from it. As for Wikipedia, I use it quite often and trust the information I got from it in %90. It’s so weird that the more I know it, the less trust I give it. But this is what I really feel!
I plan to choose two nets, one is belong to “bonding” , the other is belong to “bridging”. It turns out I only choose a correct “bridging” net. The other net I feel it trapped in between “bridging” and “bonding”. So the topic of My final project is in the social capital area. I plan to further explore the concept of social capital and how it can be measured. There are lots of arguments on this topic. William’s paper is a good beginning on this topic as he mentioned so many references.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Session 3 : Motivation for participation

Catherine M. Ridings and David Gefen present several motivations to join traditional groups. I agree with them that Humans have a need to belong and be affiliated with others. Groups provide individuals with a source of information and help in achieving goals. I am also expressed at: “An individual’s self identity results from the membership in a preexisting self-inclusive social group, including vocation and avocation.” At the first glance, I disagree with it. I feel “An individual’s self identity” not just from the results of the membership in a preexisting self-inclusive social group. It should mainly come from our self. Then I ask myself: How do I make self identity? From vocation or from interesting ? I find that it’s very difficult to make self identity without social criticism. Humans have social belong. No matter whether you like it or not, we are affiliated with others. That is the reason there are so many groups exist, traditional, face-to-face groups as well as virtual internet communities.
Catherine M. Ridings and David Gefen point out that the virtual communities can play several roles:

· Information Exchange
· Social Support Exchange
· Friendship
· Recreation

According to my experience in answerbag, Information Exchange plays the most important role to attract people to virtual communities. In answerbag, people can ask all kind of questions and share their information among communities. During the conversation with people behind internet, we obtain much useful information and have fun at the same time. This may be counted as its recreation function. Frankly say, I am confused about the social support exchange. I don’t know whether answerbag has social support exchange function or not. As for friendship, I feel it’s very hard to have in virtual communities. At least, it is much more difficult than in the real world, especially in answerbag. There are so many people ask and answer questions with weird nickname. The chance to meet the same people again is very small let alone friendship.

That is just the experiences I have. Up to now I only joined two internet communities. The reason I joined them is for this class. I can’t say too much on this topic until I have more experiences.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Session 2: Online Communities

No matter whether you like or not, the influences of internet on our communications are huge. Online communities facilitate the growth of groups with shared interests. Does the Internet Strengthen Community? The answer is Yes and No.

J. Snyder defined community as: A community is people who have greater things in common than a fascination with a narrowly defined topic. According to his definition, Internet’s virtual communities are not communities at all. William A. Galston suggested that communities focus on four parts: limited membership, shared norms, affective ties, and a sense of mutual obligation. Online communities have weak control on limited membership. New member can easily get admission even technical restrictions do exist and are sometimes employed. Online groups can develop complex systems of internalized norms and Internet deconstructs the ideal of face-to-face communication. Online groups converge by individual interests, they do not have mutual obligation.

Here we can see that online communities are out of range with the classic definition of community. Online communities are not build based on place, or face-to-face relationships. They are easy to enter and easy to exist. The internal relations shaped by mutual adjustment rather than hierarchical authority etc. They neither have mutual obligation nor lay the basis for sacrifice.

For these reason, I like online community. People can exchange information and opinions about shared enthusiasms, rock groups, sports etc. I joined (Sorry it’s not written in English.) I got lot of news and information. I post a question confused me, I can get many answers from the people in the same community who may be scattered the entire world in the real life. In this way, we form a community based on commonality of interests, not on accidents of proximity.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Social Computing

Social computing is about the intersection of social behavior and computational systems. It is based on creating or recreating social conventions and social contexts through the use of software and technology. Blogs, email, instant messaging, social network services, wikis, social bookmarking etc are often called social software . They are software applications where people interact socially.

Social computing has become more widely known because of its relationship to a number of recent trends. These include the growing popularity of social software and Web 2.0, increased academic interest in social network analysis, the rise of open source as a viable method of production, and a growing conviction that all of this can have a profound impact on daily life.

Social network sites as web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site. They not only allow individuals to meet strangers, but also they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks.

Among the Social network sites, there exists large number of Social Network. Participants are not necessarily "networking" or looking to meet new people; instead, they are primarily communicating with people who are already a part of their extended social network. They primarily interact via communication media such as newsletters, telephone, email, online social networks or instant messages rather than face to face, for social, professional, educational or other purposes. If the mechanism is a computer network, it is called an online community. Virtual and online communities have also become a supplemental form of communication between people who know each other primarily in real life.

Web 2.0 describes the changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aim to enhance creativity, communications, secure information sharing, collaboration and functionality of the web. Web 2.0 concepts have led to the development and evolution of web culture communities.

Easy connections brought about by cheap devices, modular content, and shared computing resources are having a profound impact on our global economy and social structure. Social computing is possible to design digital systems that support useful functionality by making social information available to their users. The information that is produced by a group of people is used to provide or enhance the functioning of a system.

Over all, Social Computing refers to systems that support the gathering, representation, processing, use, and dissemination of information that is distributed across social collectivities such as teams, communities, organizations, and markets. In this course, I would like to learn some social computing methods, such as algorithms to classify the information extracting from the web and the way to interact more actively with other people through social software etc.