C&T 2007: Proceedings of the Third Communities and Technologies Conference

This book covers the relationship between information and communication technologies (ICTs) and communities – both physical and virtual. The chapters deal with such subjects as online social network communities, implicit online communities, tools for researching communities, user generated content communities, communities of practice, and trust in communities. Among the many contexts for community technology applications studied in these chapters are businesses and professional settings, health care, game communities, e-government, rural communities, low income communities and physical neighborhoods. Collectively, they demonstrate the dynamic and interdisciplinary nature of evolving communities and technologies scholarship.

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  • Text Document
    Life in the Times of Whypox: A Virtual Epidemic as a Community Event
    (Communities and Technologies 2007: Proceedings of the Third Communities and Technologies Conference, 2007) Kafai, Yasmin B.; Feldon, David; Fields, Deborah; Giang, Michael; Quintero, Maria
    Virtual communities have become a central part of children’s social landscape. Some of them, called multi-player online games, invite thousands of children to join and play together. Their online interactions are structured around socializing, shopping, and emailings. At occasion, particular events such as player revolts, virus outbreaks, or organized ostracism bring together the geographically dispersed players of such online communities and constitute what we call community events. As a case in point, we focus on Whypox, a virtual epidemic that took place in Whyville.net, a teen online community with over 1.5 million registered players ages 8-16. To understand how events such as Whypox impact life in online communities, we analyze tracking data, chat content, newspaper postings, survey and interview descriptions and play interactions. We discuss implications of our findings in relation to Gee’s (2003) notion of affinity groups, propose design parameters for designing community events, and outline educational applications.
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    Online and Offline Integration in Virtual Communities of Patients ­ an Empirical Analysis
    (Communities and Technologies 2007: Proceedings of the Third Communities and Technologies Conference, 2007) Dannecker, Achim; Lechner, Ulrike
    Virtual communities of patients provide health-related information and mutual support for their members. This paper presents a structured analysis of virtual communities of patients and different online and offline integration principles. We analyse the success factors of virtual communities of patients and in particular the demand for new electronic services that improve the online and offline integration.
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    Workplace Connectors as Facilitators for Work
    (Communities and Technologies 2007: Proceedings of the Third Communities and Technologies Conference, 2007) Su, Norman Makoto; Mark, Gloria; Sutton, Stewart A.
    The creation of a knowledge-sharing corporation—one that discourages knowledge hoarding but encourages sharing across internal and external divisions—is a goal which many organizations strive to achieve through explicit policies and procedures. Formal communities is a key design strategy that organizational architects often use to promote knowledge sharing and interaction. An 11-month ethnographic investigation with 10 informants was conducted in an organization in the nascent stages of implementing formal communities of practice. Each informant was shadowed for three and a half days. Contrary to the common characterization of communities of practice in the workplace as the dominant social arrangement through which work is accomplished, our data revealed that there exists a range of identifiable and distinct connectors, commonalities or affinities, that facilitate the formation of diverse groups in an organization. The seven major types of connectors we found were: work home, company, common work role, formal community, professional, private and social. Each connector provides a purposeful way for workers to not only accomplish their work tasks more effectively, but to legitimately cultivate social constructs such as communities.
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    Reflections and Reactions to Social Accounting Meta-Data
    (Communities and Technologies 2007: Proceedings of the Third Communities and Technologies Conference, 2007) Gleave, Eric; Smith, Marc
    How are reflections of computer-mediated behavior used and consumed by participants of threaded conversation repositories? While millions of people contribute messages to repositories like Usenet newsgroups and web based discussion boards, most interfaces to these systems lack tools to reflect the history of participants' behavior. The Netscan system publishes aggregated patterns of behavioral histories of contributors to Usenet newsgroup discussions via the World Wide Web. Through a content analysis of 1,454 messages containing the string 'netscan.research', we explore the ways these reports about newsgroups, authors, and threads are invoked in conversations taking place within newsgroups themselves. Reflections of participant behaviors can act as powerful tools for researchers interested in studying the range of variation of social roles that appear in such environments. These reflections are also of interest and value to the participants themselves who can make use of summaries of their own and others' behaviors as a form of reputation system which can guide the selection and evaluation of content and provide motivation for contribution. We find that users adapt to the availability of behavioral reflections by increasing competitiveness and scrutinizing data about other participants in order to understand unfamiliar users and newsgroups. Counter-intuitively, users modify their behaviors not by opting out of the system or obscuring their identities but rather work to manage their reputation through increased attention to their participation and by maintaining a consistent identifier to prevent reputation fragmentation.
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    Modes of Social Science Engagement in Community Infrastructure Design
    (Communities and Technologies 2007: Proceedings of the Third Communities and Technologies Conference, 2007) Ribes, David; Baker, Karen
    We ask, how does the organization of a technology building project impact collaboration with social scientists? We identify four elements that have structured collaborative engagements of social scientists within information infrastructure design projects. The elements we identify are (i) the state of the project relative to its development timeline
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    Rhythms of Social Interaction: Messaging Within a Massive Online Network
    (Communities and Technologies 2007: Proceedings of the Third Communities and Technologies Conference, 2007) Golder, Scott A.; Wilkinson, D.M.; Huberman, B.A.
    We have analyzed the fully-anonymized headers of 362 million messages exchanged by 4.2 million users of Facebook, an online social network of college students, during a 26 month interval. The data reveal a number of strong daily and weekly regularities and seasonal variations which provide insights into the time use and social lives of college students. We also examined how factors such as school affiliation and informal online “friend” lists affect the observed behavior and temporal patterns. Finally, we show that Facebook users appear to be clustered by school with respect to their temporal messaging patterns. Our results identify previously undetected patterns — and provide large-scale, quantitative evidence in support of existing claims — regarding messaging, studying and socializing among college students.
  • Text Document
    A Noun Phrase Analysis Tool for Mining Online Community Conversations
    (Communities and Technologies 2007: Proceedings of the Third Communities and Technologies Conference, 2007) Haythornthwaite, Caroline; Gruzd, Anatoliy
    Online communities are creating a growing legacy of texts. These texts record conversation, knowledge exchange, and variation in topic and orientation as groups grow, mature, and decline
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    High Tech Programmers in Low-Income Communities: Creating a Computer Culture in a Community Technology Center
    (Communities and Technologies 2007: Proceedings of the Third Communities and Technologies Conference, 2007) Kafai, Yasmin B.; Peppler, Kylie A.; Chiu, Grace M.
    In this paper, we will apply Oakes’ (1992) technical, normative, and political dimensions of school reform to the case of the Computer Clubhouse, a community technology center, to illustrate how the barriers to change in after-school settings are similar to that in schools. We were concerned with the need to help young people become more technologically fluent, particularly in their ability to computer program. Our analysis builds on two years of observation and community development at the Computer Clubhouse, where programming had initially not taken root. In our discussion, we will focus on the impacts of the normative and technical aspects of change, such as the introduction of a new programming environment oriented towards media production, and the increased amount of mentor support.
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    World Wide Webs: Crossing the Digital Divide through Promotion of Public Access
    (Communities and Technologies 2007: Proceedings of the Third Communities and Technologies Conference, 2007) Coetzee, Liezl
    The Information Age of the early 21st Century is in the process of undergoing dramatic processes of social transformation, which may be thought of as ‘e-volutionary’ in nature and extent, brought about by the proliferation of Internet and Communications Technologies (ICTs). This involves transformation at individual, community, as well as broader society levels, as webs of connections stretch across the globe in the fast evolving Network Society. The rapid revolution of computer mediated communications (CMCs) has significant implications for those without access, creating new divides between ‘information have’s and have not’s’. The severe extent to which access to new communication technologies is skewed across what has become known as the Digital Divide means that the disconnected face ever greater exclusion from global information flows. Bridging the divide to effectively extend inclusion to a greater portion of the world’s citizens requires a comprehensive approach promoting ‘real access’ and social inclusion, which involves more than just physical access to technology. An example of a bridging initiative providing free public access to disadvantaged communities in the City of Cape Town is examined with respect to such real access criteria, to note the degree to which social transformation through ICTs can be extended across the economic and class divides underpinning the digital.
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    A Relational Scaffolding Model of Hybrid Communication
    (Communities and Technologies 2007: Proceedings of the Third Communities and Technologies Conference, 2007) Meissner, Jens O.; Tuckermann, Harald
    In this empirical paper, we explore the recursive relationship of computer-mediated communication (CMC) and social relations in organizations, guided by two questions: Which typical patterns of relating occur in organizational contexts in hybrid communication? How are organizations as communities of relational practice affected in these contexts? Scholars so far have mainly explored the social dimension of CMC by comparing it to face-to-face interaction, whereas the opposite view of a relational perspective on CMC appears remains underresearched. Building on the concept of conversational scaffolding, we propose a model of relational scaffolding as a guiding frame for observation. The empirical findings stem from problem-centered interviews in four organizations to depict the participants' narratives of their daily CMC experiences at the workplace. We present our results as patterns and understandings regarding hybrid communication in organizations. Thus, our study explores specific organizational practices in which the recursive interrelation between CMC and relationships is considered. By means of the ‘relational scaffolding model of CMC’, this research contributes to our understanding of community processes that emerge in hybrid communication settings. We conclude by critically reflecting our methodology and pointing towards directions of future research.