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Table Of Contents

Presentations

Marc Smith

Microsoft Research

Sociological tools for exploring computer-mediated collective action

The explosion of social media on the internet has drawn attention to sociological ideas as people seek to understand and manage these systems. Many of these systems collectively generate valuable public goods like collections of answers to questions or encyclopedia articles. Applying sociological concepts related to networks, collective action, and the presentation of self can help clarify the activities in these systems. The creation of machine readable traces of many computer-mediated social interactions opens new opportunities to apply these concepts, through information technology tools, to the study of this social phenomena. Microsoft is generating a number of tools and data sets that can facilitate the exploration of social media. In this talk several projects and data sets of note will be described, including (Excel) .NetMap, a social network analysis add-in for Excel, and the results of an investigation into the social structure of several open source software development projects.

James Witte

Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Clemson University

Incorporating Social Context and User-Centered Design in Creation of an Animated Work Environment

The dramatic shift in the nature, place and organization of our work lives, as well as the sophistication of information technologies employed in work, have prompted a transdisciplinary team to design and develop an “Animated Work Environment” (AWE). AWE is not seen as a static design product, but as a location to support the interaction of people, software, information, machines, furniture, and other physical surroundings—all situated in a social context. A particularly relevant aspect of this context is changes in work and in the work force. In realizing this vision, the team (representing architecture, human factors, robotics and sociology) employed a social context and user-centered design approach to designing, prototyping, demonstrating and evaluating AWE. This paper begins with a review of findings from surveys conducted in two communities with concentrations of highly educated individuals who were likely to be heavy users of digital technologies at home and work. The paper then reviews findings from lab-based task analyses of workers employing digital technologies. Finally, the paper discusses how these findings informed the design of the AWE robot-architecture prototype. The implementation of AWE in the different configurations of its animation is illustrated through drawings and photographs.

Gordon Fletcher and Ben Light

Salford Business School

Making the Game work? Lessons from Ethnographies of SingStar

Embedded within discourses of the enactment of information and communications technologies (ICTs) at work is often a tightly constrained range of legitimate application area of study, a rather thin concept of user-developer relations and a context of use that precludes simultaneity, multiplicity and informality. In doing this, there is the potential to overlook other capabilities of ICTs including the facilitation of experiences that are fun, enjoyable, pleasurable or loving. Moreover, notions of the ‘user’ are tied very much tied to organizational settings implying almost synonymous meanings to that of ‘worker’. This constructs an implicit set of employment relations and technology ownership conditions. This situation persists despite the increasing relocation of work to informal settings beyond the traditional boundaries of the work organization. In this paper we argue for the consideration of digital games as premier and hallmark examples of socially rich ICTs. Through two intersecting ethnographies of the use of the Sony PlayStation console game, SingStar we provide an account of ICT mediated experiences associated with playing the game. We consider SingStar in particular as socially rich as it invites us to think about: the wider capabilities of ICTs beyond work-orientated organisations; the expansion of conditions of ICT appropriation, extended collaboration practices and the co-production of sociotechnical arrangements in situ. We argue that SingStar can be thought of as glue technology that assists in crafting and strengthening social linkages amongst players. Our examination of the play and experience of this game provides a fuller account of the inter-relationships of people to socialising technologies that reaches beyond traditional discourses regarding organizational usage and work practices.

In moving beyond an organisationally based notion of ICT appropriation, we are able to, arguably, more readily witness ICT capabilities that go beyond process improvement and the like. In our case, evaluation criteria coalesce around how much fun the game produces in a number of ways, whether this is through allowing competition, performance, gaining pleasure from the act of using the ICT in for its own sake or giving pleasure to others. Expanding the conditions of appropriation also brings to the fore new user relationships – this may include colleagues as friends, but also we are given the opportunity to witness families and friends enact ICTs. Moreover, we are able to attend to the everyday of domestic life as key ingredients of such enactments and such as food, drink and prior experiences of popular culture and contemporary politics. Such combinations produce collaborations that lead us to witness the shared usage of a set of sociotechnical arrangements in an incredibly interactive fashion. Within such collaborations we are able to gain insights into how people support each other in technology use, such as the cases teaching new players how to play and encouraging shy people to sing. However, we also see how people are drawn into situations when they might not want to be. Finally, we are able to very clearly articulate the notion of the incomplete nature of technologies at the end of the formal design stage and signify the importance of the ongoing work and experiences of users post-production.

Jacqueline Zalewski

Sociology, West Chester University

Distributed Teams, Change Management, and the Standardization of Work at Outsourcing Companies

The outsourcing of work and jobs in the information technologies and human resources professions are on the rise. This exploratory study examines how work and professionals are organized at business service specialists—the sellers of outsourcing services. It also describes how contracted services are delivered to customers. Data was obtained from interviews with information technologies and human resources professionals who had “rebadged” as a consequence of an outsourcing agreement. Their employment was terminated with a core company—the buyer of outsourced services, and they became reemployed with a business service specialist as part of an outsourcing agreement. Information was collected on six separate deals representing six different business service specialists, five of whom are leading providers in the information technologies and human resources outsourcing industries.

The goal business service specialists strive for involves the selling of standardized sets of low-cost services to an expanding market of clients in order to benefit from higher markups and profit margins. In some cases (e.g., most human resources tasks and technology hardware and storage functions), this is partially achieved through centralizing the work in regional service centers. Yet with the capabilities of communication and information technologies (CITs), centralization—in a spatial sense—is not necessary to concentrate technical resources and staff and facilitate the transfer of knowledge, information, and standard sets of services. At business services specialists technicians are assigned to functional and expert service teams (e.g., network security, disaster recovery, and identity management), who share and disseminate knowledge, experience, and standardized business processes using CITs. In delivering services it is the mandate of technical specialists to focus on “change management,” where remedial changes to work are made in a standard and managed way. Standardized changes to the work are also facilitated when specialists’ roles expand, or they transition to the accounts of other clients.

The implications of the new ways that business service specialists’ have organized and deliver the work to their customers is clear. The historical record strongly suggests that the standardization being imposed on information technology and human resources work will eventually lead to deskilling in these fields and job losses.

Graduate Student Workshop

Benjamin Addom

School of Information Studies, Syracuse University

“Community Innovativeness”: A New Perspective on Knowledge Creation

The Global Economic Prospects report just released by the World Bank - “Technology Diffusion in the Developing World 2008” acknowledges the application of the theory of “Absorptive Capacity” to reduce the development gap between developed and developing economies (World Bank, 2008). While the report recognizes the importance of diffusion of outside technologies from developed nations into developing nations, it also argues for certain internal characteristics of the receiving nations for effective adoption of the transferred technology. This is the strength of the theory of absorptive capacity, which argues that the ability of any social system to identify an external knowledge, acquire, assimilate, transform it with the internal ideas and exploit it makes the system innovative. The theory has been extensively explored under several situations such as in organizations (Cohen and Levinthal, 1990), inter-firms (Ahuja and Katila, 2001) and within nations (Liu and White, 1997).

However, very little is known of the application of this theory to geo-communities. This research takes a geographic approach to community and argues that the social structure of a given geo-community could be a predictor of its innovativeness. It defines community social structure as the social positions/roles in the community, the relation among these roles, and the cultural and normative patterns that define the relations. The study also recognizes social organizations as units of a community as against individuals. It proposes a “Community Innovativeness Model” that utilizes the strengths of both codified and tacit knowledge, and defines innovativeness as the dynamic capability of any social system to communally grapple with an issue, either devise new ways of internally solving it together or look for outside ideas and combine them with existing experiences, and exploit it to improve their living conditions.

Re-conceptualizing this theory as absorptive capacity of communities (ACC), I argue that the potential absorptive capacity of communities (PACC) – the community’s ability to acquire and assimilate external ideas, may be driven by the presence of social entrepreneurial organizations (SEO) (Fowler, 2000); strong vertical ties (VT) of the social organizations with their extra-local entities (Warren, 1978); and the presence of information communication centers (ICC) (Arnold and Bell, 2001; Heeks, 2002). Also realized absorptive capacity of communities (RACC) – the community’s ability to transform and exploit the acquired external ideas, may be facilitated by the presence of strong community based organization (CBO) (Mohan, 2001); strong horizontal ties (HT) among these social organizations (Warren, 1978); and high structural differentiation (SD) (Aiken and Alford, 1970) of the community.

The following research questions guide the study:

RQ1: Under what social structural condition will a given community increase its innovativeness?

RQ2: How structurally differentiated are these communities?

RQ3: In what ways can the new information communication technologies (ICTs) play a role in community innovativeness?

The study is a qualitative exploratory case study using unstructured interview for data elicitation. Two communities will be purposively selected in Ghana based on economic indicators from the country. Social organizations will be the unit of analysis and will be selected using snowball-sampling approach. Composition variables on attributes of the organizations and the structural variables on ties between the social organizations and their extra-local communities will be collected.

Tooran Alizadeh

Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, University of Sydney

Design Attributes of Wired Residential Communities for Teleworkers

The digital revolution at the end of the 20th century has transformed how work is organised and from where it is being done. The old boundaries between the locus of work and the place of domicile are being blurred in profound ways. As a result of the introduction of communication and information technologies, the potential for work to be located in almost any venue has emerged. We are now witnessing a new form of work-home connection that is being embraced by the real estate community and private developers are already building “wired communities” to attract the new social group of home-based teleworkers.

This research argues that most residential communities that have been designed and marketed as “wired communities” are the duplicate of conventional residential communities but equipped with high-speed Internet, and have not recognized the new lifestyle of their residents who spend more hours in the community, work, live and play in the same locality. This research is about the connection of home space to work space and how this could be reflected in the configuration of neighbourhoods. The study probes whether there is a demand for new design attributes in the digital age communities of home-based teleworkers, and whether those attributes are different from the ones demanded by people in the times before the digital revolution.

This research examines the attributes of wired communities in the literature and compares them with the criteria of good urban design. This comparison illuminates that some scholars argue that digital revolution has even changed our preferences for urban living. They claim that the new social group of home-based teleworkers demand a different set of design attributes in their communities to match their new lifestyles. Central for these scholars is the concept of diversity that goes beyond all other attributes. Apart from that, there is a negative emphasis on the physical accessibility and legibility seems to be negated. Such preferences, however, have not been examined empirically.

The clues in the literature provide a tentative framework for the design attributes that needs to be corroborated in an empirical study. The empirical study is based on an international comparative case study collecting quantitative and qualitative data from three existing wired communities in Australia, USA and Singapore. In each case study, based on residents’ desirability and preferences the framework is reviewed and then the interpretation of entire analysis reveals the ideal community for both working and living. This study sheds new light on the existing gap of the empirical study on the relationship between digital and spatial aspects of urban life increasing knowledge in the theoretical field of “Sociology of ICTs” and produces specific data on the design of residential communities in the information age.

Paula Bach

Penn State University

Integrating usability activities into an open source project hosting website: the case of CodePlex

Communities of open source software developers with similar interests develop software not only for the challenge of solving interesting coding problems, but also to create tools for themselves and others to use. The activities on each of these projects depend on a number of factors: the business model, the social structure, the development process, and the type of project. Because of these various factors, integrating usability activities in open source communities has been challenging. As such, the usability of open source software is problematic. This problem is related to a lack, in open source communities, of resources and knowledge to integrate usability activities that ensure a usable product. Such activities include bringing on usability experts or adopting usability best practices. Smaller projects like those hosted on open source project websites like Sourceforge, Google Code, and Codeplex, rarely integrate usability into their project community. These websites do not deliberately support usability activities and the developers lack usability expertise and are pressed for resources to attract usability experts. Addressing the usability integration problem on a project hosting website, like CodePlex, will make available tools and best practices for many open source projects.

This research seeks to investigate the integration of support for usability activities on CodePlex, an open source project hosting website. The project explores human-human interactions and human-computer interactions in both localized and distributed environments including open source and proprietary development processes. The research includes collaboration with the CodePlex team to implement support for usability activities as an intervention. As such, the project follows an action research methodology, which is a qualitative, interpretive approach. Action research is characterized by action and change, a problem focus, a systematic, iterative process, and collaboration among participants. The collaborative investigation involves studying the activities surrounding CodePlex. Such activities include design work performed by CodePlex designers and developers, communication with and development work performed by open source developers who choose to host their projects on the website, and the open source software users participating in a project community. Social behavior is a web of activities surrounding CodePlex. Activity theory is a framework that supports the analysis of interlinked activities such as those surrounding the design and use of CodePlex. The theory serves a framework to analyze human practice interlinking both individual and social levels. As such, activity theory serves as an appropriate framework to investigate how support for usability activities can be integrated in CodePlex.

The social impact of this research is twofold. First, studying the interplay of activities in both traditional and open source development environments has implications for understanding further the social side of software development. Second, studying the interplay of activities surrounding the design and use of CodePlex coupled with the design and use of open source software projects hosted on CodePlex offers social implications that includes freely available software with better usability.

Kristina Barnett

Texas State University

Blogging Power-Knowledge: The Internet, Diversity and Elite Knowledge Production

Throughout history, the production of knowledge has largely been performed by a small, homogeneous subset of society. Entry into this subset of elites was barred by stringent gatekeeping norms such as membership in the dominant religious movement of the day, having a light skin tone, possession of an advanced degree, or the basic gender requirement of being male. While the progress of history has shown a distinct trend toward liberalization, social science research tells us that the process has been slow, uneven and rife with setbacks.

Some researchers characterize the internet as having an equalizing effect, contributing to the more general trend toward liberalization. Though others have criticized an overly optimistic view of the internet, analysis of the phenomena of online journaling, popularly called blogging, offers a distinct example of this effect. Technorati, the internet’s leading search engine devoted entirely to dynamic, syndicated content online, claims to be indexing 112.8 million blogs as of February 2008. This figure has grown rapidly since Technorati began counting blogs in 2002, and continues to do so. Further, the ever-proliferating contents of these blogs appear in search results on the internet alongside established, traditional sources of information such as online government data and newspaper articles. Though a small percentage of internet users are highly active online and knowledgeable regarding the nuanced sources of online content, the majority of internet users do not or cannot distinguish between blog posts and other, more traditionally accepted sources of information. Put differently, the very fact that blog posts turn up in online search results lends them a measure of credibility. Thus, we find that with or without intention, the people who blog have become significant producers of information and contributors to the discourse on many topics. As such, bloggers are effectively members of a loosely knit, elite subculture who produce knowledge in the public privacy of the internet.

In this project, I will quantitatively examine demographic characteristics of bloggers using survey data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. While preliminary analysis of the data has shown that bloggers are more diverse than the general population of internet users, I will seek to understand the ways in which age, race, gender, religion and education intersect in the blogging population. Further, I will compare bloggers’ characteristics with characteristics of people who are more traditionally considered elite producers of knowledge in an effort to construct a nuanced understanding of how the internet affects the norms that govern knowledge producers. I expect to find that, in the context of blogging at least, the internet accelerates the slow, historical pattern of liberalization by fostering a more racially, economically, politically and religiously diverse group of knowledge producers.

Celeste Campos and Donna Lancianese

Department of Sociology, University of Iowa

When the Unexpected Occurs: Implications of Context for Copresence and Emotion in Technology-Mediated Communication

Copresence, the awareness of another and the perception that the other is aware of oneself, is a current topic of interest in technology-mediated communication. Most researchers agree that certain media afford more copresence than others. For example, users of videophones experience more copresence with their partners than users of ordinary telephones because the video enhances the exchange of signals for copresence. Essentially, as the richness of the social cues that can be exchanged increases, so does copresence.

What is missing in the literature is an understanding of how other features of the interaction, such as the situation itself, influences copresence and the users of these media. We focus on the actors’ emotions as a function of expectations for copresence being met in the situation, even when media are kept constant. We present a theory that links ideas of copresence to affect control theory (ACT), which describes emotions as signals of how well the definition of the situation is being maintained. The definition of the situation is a shared understanding of “who’s who” and what is to be expected of each actor. During a class lecture, for example, a student is expected to listen to the professor, while the professor is expected to instruct. ACT assumes that individuals seek consistency, such that the definition of the situation must align with the information we receive from the environment. Attached to each person or behavior in a situation is a fundamental sentiment, or meaning, that is (nearly) universally shared by a culture. There are three dimensions of sentiment toward each symbol in the situation (termed the EPA profile): evaluation (good vs. bad), potency (powerful vs. weak), and activity (liveliness vs. quietness).

When something unexpected occurs, or the definition of the situation is no longer maintained, sentiments attached to the situation change and result in emotions. In the class lecture example, if the student ignores the professor, it engenders emotions from the professor, student, and observers watching the interaction. Large discrepancies between reality and what is expected cause a reformulation of the definition of the situation. If instead of instructing the professor decides to run up and steal the student’s laptop, the professor would get labeled as a thief rather than a professor.

We suggest that signals of copresence, such as smiling, frowning, paying attention to, and yelling, are behaviors that can be matched to EPA profiles. Given the situation, such as a student interacting with a professor or a student interacting with a thief, some of these signals for copresence can be expected while others misalign with the definition of the situation. For example, more positive signals of copresence, such as smiling and paying attention to, can be expected from a student toward a professor. Our presentation will cover a theoretical explication of copresence and affect control theory with an emphasis on potential hypotheses. We would like to receive feedback on our theory and experimental design. The experiment would vary communication medium and whether the situation conforms to expectations.

Steven Dashiell

Applied Sociology, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)

Warcrack: Examination of Social Isolation Constructs in Players of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs)

The phenomena of Massively Multi-Player Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) continue to sweep the country, with an amazing demographic spending inordinate amounts of time online to participate in an online fantasy world. Many of these games producers theorize their players spend no less than 20 hours average online per week. If such is the case, how socially connected are they and how connected do they perceive themselves to be? The purpose of this research is to provide information on personal perceptions of individuals who engage in online gaming for a significant amount of time. The aim is to assess social isolation based on data provided by a survey tool created to measure individual internet use and isolation. The presenter is engaged in online survey research to gauge the social isolation of the individuals who play one particular game (World of Warcraft). The tool is designed using a collaboration of social science measurement tools (UCLA Loneliness Scale, Yale Social Support Index, and the Internet Behaviors and Attitudes Scale) examining individual internet involvement and social involvement. The presenter is using a myriad of methods to recruit 150-200 persons to participate in the survey. The guiding thesis postulates that individuals who spend more hours online will have fewer consistent social contacts (excluding the game) and will be more likely to define the interactions during the game as social contact. A conclusion will be reached based on the support or refutation of the thesis, which will occur once the data are analyzed in July. Collection of this data could lead to more substantive studies regarding the value of social interactions of MMORPG participants and the comparative nature of online interrelationships and their traditional counterparts.

Elfi Ettinger

Department of Information Systems & Change Management, University of Twente

Online Recruiting: Where Career, Community and Social Network Research Meet

Optimizing online service encounters is becoming the most important key to highly-effective e-service provision. Enhancing the collaboration between those who design services and those who use services is likely to replace a number of traditional organizing functions, such as marketing and R&D in the future (Cappelli, 2001). Traditional organizational forms will evaporate (Wellman et al., 2002; Zhao et al., 2007); hierarchical authority structures will be more and more replaced by identity-based work (Turkle, 1995; Castells, 2004). One of the places where close collaborations among service providers and clients are emerging is in the sector of personal services, specifically job-search services.

In a piece of longitudinal action research, I am starting to study the nature of work accomplished by involving users and system designers into the process of building and maintaining the official nationwide (i.e. Austrian) online career service for university graduates. The key question is: “What kind of services should an online career portal offer so as to achieve active long-term participation of its users?” This is an important question to ask because -- despite the vibrancy of e-recruiting services -- large numbers of them fail (Feldman & Klaas, 2002; Lin & Stasinskaya, 2002; Smith & Rupp, 2004). It is difficult to design socio-technical features that generate ongoing participation from a larger fraction of its initially perhaps instrumentally oriented users (Wellman & Haythornthwaite, 2002; Szmigin et al., 2005; Bishop, 2007).

Exactly how user involvement needs to be organized into the (re)design process of services is unknown as of yet (e.g., Iansiti & MacCormack, 1997; Hwanga & Thorn, 1999; Thomke & von Hippel, 2002; Kujala, 2003; Buchanan, 2007). Although it has been found that involving users can lead to innovative service ideas, sometimes the users’ ideas are too difficult to get or too costly to realize (Magnusson et al., 2003; Wagner & Piccoli, 2007).

An initial data collection phase took place during the test implementation of the recruiting platform. In this phase, users were asked to suggest new services that would be desirable to be included in e-recruiting platforms. In the pilot study, I also interviewed 60 registered users and 8 system designers of the same platform in depth regarding desirable services. By systematically comparing the data, interesting patterns emerged (Strauss & Corbin, 1988; Miles & Huberman, 1994). In the current phase, the categorized service ideas are quantitatively evaluated by a group of users and a group of system designers according to important IS system success measures (see Davis, 1989; Noyes & Baber, 1999; DeLone & McLean, 2003). In the final study, the same 60 registered users that were interviewed at the beginning of the study will be again queried to compare their actual system to their intended system use.

My preliminary results show that users are more inclined to re-use the same e-recruiting platform throughout their career if the userbase comprises many other users who share a similar social identity and who had already developed offline ties with each other before registration. What seems to have an influence on users’ active long-term participation are services that enable users to maintain communication (e.g. for career purposes) with other users who already know each other from their offline network (van Dijk, 2005) or via friends of friends (FoF) (boyd & Ellisons, 2007; Plickert et al., 2007).

Accordingly, I propose: The more registered users in a recruiting database have strong ties with each other and the longer they know each other, the more they are willing to keep their profiles up-to date (outdated applicant profiles are a huge problem of e-recruiting services).

Laura Forlano

Communications, Columbia University

When Code Meets Place: Collaboration and Innovation at WiFi Hotspots

This dissertation examines the forms of organizing that occur when code – digital information, networks and interfaces – meets place. Over the past decade since the mainstream adoption of the Internet, there has been a growing body of scholarship about the role of media, communication and information technology in enabling the work of virtual organizations. However, the role of place has been significantly under-theorized. During the same period, our homes, offices and cities have become populated with a wide variety of mobile and wireless technologies – mobile phones, wireless fidelity (WiFi), radio frequency identification tags (RFID) and wireless sensors – that make up an invisible digital information layer in physical space. In order to describe emerging socio-technical arrangements, this dissertation analyzes the people and organizations for whom WiFi networks, and the spaces that they inhibit, play an important role. These include, for example, freelancers coworking from a Starbucks Coffee in New York, hacktivists innovating open source wireless protocols in a basement in Berlin and social entrepreneurs building bottom-up mesh networks in San Francisco. Drawing on theories from communications and science and technology studies, this dissertation applies network ethnography to analyze themes of social construction, sociality and locality. This dissertation argues that mobile and wireless technologies enable an ad-hoc, community or peer-to-peer form of organizing that is deeply embedded in physical location in contrast to current notions of virtual organizations. The concept of codescapes -- the integration of digital networks with physical space -- is developed to capture the emerging modes of communication, collaboration and innovation that are occurring at the intersection of technology and place. This conceptual reframing of forms of organizing is essential in order to understand the ways in which organizations, architecture, policies and technologies themselves are being reshaped.

Presley Ifukor

University of Osnabrueck

“Elections” or “Selections”? Blogging the Nigerian 2007 General Elections

Blogging is the act of writing online journals to chronicle and communicate one's thoughts (on issues of personal interests, events and news) to either a specific target audience or the wider reading public. The major research questions we seek to address in this paper include whether blogging qualify as a variety of work; what roles bloggers play during an electoral process; and if some linguistic elements can encode bloggers' sentiments about elections. In attempting to answer these questions, we hypothesize: that blogging is work, in the sense that the activity is mostly voluntary and has direct bearing on the life and political survival of a people; that the major part of bloggers' acts in the Nigerian context comprise enlightening and assuring electorates that their votes would count and as a result mobilizing the electorates to perform their civic duties before and during elections; and that certain lexical items contextually encode responsibility and express the mood of the masses. A fundamental claim in this paper, therefore, is that blogging is a form of work whose initiator's sole aim is doing grassroots reporting, commenting on events, analyzing reactions to happenings and ultimately effecting social change via people-oriented actions. Opinions can be formulated on weblogs for eventual transformation into major developmental policies that have far reaching implications on the life, aspiration and future of a people. The paper integrates Schmidt's (2007) analytical model of blogging practices as a conceptual framework for advocating blogging as social action. We argue that blogging, by its potential to shape news reportage and be used as an effective tool of socialization to influence the public mood, is rooted in social action. Essentially, the weblog is an influential political tool for mobilization, and Nigerian bloggers made good use of this platform to educate, enlighten, and encourage eligible voters to perform their civic duties before and during the Nigerian 2007 General Elections. We also assert that linguistic items encode a variety of actions. Whereas 'elect(ion)' enhances civic fulfilment, 'select(ion)' evokes apathy in the minds of electorates. Moreover, the use of 'elect(ion)' indicates citizen participation whereas 'select(ion)' is indicative of civic deprivation. These two lexical entities express the mood and attitudes of the electorates towards the Nigerian 2007 General Elections.

Alex Jenkins

Drexel University

The Iraq War Debate on Usenet

The purpose of this paper is to examine the debate over the preemptive war on Iraq in the Usenet forums. The time period examined was the two months leading up to Congressional authorization of the armed force against Iraq.

When this technology was new and beginning to grow, usenet forums and other online social newsgroups were heralded by many online researchers as an ideal speech situation, a situation where everyone is able to stake an equal claim in the debate over various issues. This paper asks the question: How did the ideal speech situation fare with regard to the Iraq war debate? To what extent did it engage in specifically moral discourse on the issue?

This paper is part of a larger ongoing study examining the debate in the public sphere over the 2002 authorization of the Iraq War. The public sphere refers to rational discourse in public arenas of important ideas by ordinary citizens. This idea was first developed by Habermas and for him included such popular bourgeois locales as London coffee houses, French salons, and 19th century Newspapers. According to Habermas, a healthy public sphere is necessary for democracy.

The goal of this larger study is to examine how different components of the public sphere debated the issue of Iraq in 2002. Editorials and opinion pieces have already been examined from 23 newspapers. The debate in the United States Congress is also being examined. Blogs did not start to really proliferate until 2004 and will be excluded from the larger study. Hence, the electronic debate transpired mainly in usegroups. The data to be presented at the conference are based on a random sample of the usenet debate. Strings are coded for the presence of various arguments and argument forms and compared with the debate in Congress and on newspaper op-ed pages. The usenet data will also be examined using Netscan to determine characteristics of groups in which various arguments are raised and the characteristics of speakers who make them.

Alexander Jerneck

University of Pennsylvania

The Social Organization of Free Software Production

This paper analyzes the production activities of the Gentoo Linux free software community - 500 developers working on 18000 software projects over 7 years - to determine the factors that influence developer allocation to projects over time.

A central feature of organizations is the tension between division of labor and coordination among the activities of those divisions. The arising problems are often so complex that only satisfactory and not optimal solutions can be found.

Organizational coordination is mostly achieved by hierarchy, with the boundary with the surrounding market determined by the properties of the transaction. Complementarities and interdependencies among organizational units make coordination harder but also more important. Theoretically such interdependencies can be manipulated to create an optimal fitness landscape although in practice this might be hard to achieve.

This paper describes the governance mechanisms and the technology usage of a free software community. Against this backdrop, hypotheses are derived from two models of social organization - status systems and social networks. These hypotheses are tested in a quantitative analysis of the factors that determine whether a developer will join a project or not.

How developers join projects is important because it determines the allocation of resources to different production tasks, but also because it determines the makeup of the organizational unit the team. Joins are also the most social developer movements, because they bring developers into closer proximity. In a join, the attributes and configuration of the project members as well as the attributes and situation of the developer comes into play and can be observed.

Data on the all the contributions made by all community members is extracted from the publicly available community software version control repository. Dividing this list of contributions into 30-day periods allows for the creation of project-developer affiliation networks for each time period. The unit of analysis is the affiliations in these networks. The actually occurring affiliations are supplemented with the risk set of all possible affiliations for each time period. Independent variables are calculated for the affiliation in the previous time period.

The impact of absolute status, relative status and social network measures on the probability of a join is assessed using a generalized mixed model.

Tentative results indicate relative status and social network effects, which indicates that the community is in part structured by status and social tie mechanisms.

Sue Regonini

Applied Anthropology, University of South Florida

User-Generated Content and Beyond: Unpaid Labor, Fandom Community Relations, and the Future of Media Production

In the rush by media production studios to jump on the “Web 2.0” bandwagon, fans have been given opportunities to create their own related content such as ads, music videos, artwork, and even new stories and characters. However, there are growing signs of discontent within these fandoms as many recognize that they are producing professional-level creative products without receiving professional compensation. On the other hand, some fans complain about these more “mercenary” brethren, and just want to have a zone in which they can create “IP safe” works; still others chafe under the limited amount of authorized materials and “sandboxes” provided by studios, and want IP protection given to all non-commercial fan creations rather than just those that meet narrow studio guidelines of acceptability.

Alongside these user-generated content issues arise new challenges to hegemonic studio production models, from fans as well as commercial writers and producers themselves. Inexpensive video production hardware and software allow some producers to choose funding their own productions over courting studio funding. Others, finding poor studio support for their products, are looking to direct distribution and marketing of their creations to consumers via various online sources such as webisodes, direct-to-DVD distribution, and other “long tail” avenues, including working hand-in-hand with their fans in word-of-mouth “guerilla marketing” efforts.

Therefore, studios are caught in a unique situation, where they know it is no longer business as usual, and are struggling between strict control over their IP rights and production streams and adopting a cooperative production model that is more inclusive of the desires of producers and fans. The question remains as to how studios, producers, and fans can all come together to satisfy the needs and desires of all parties, and adapt to the promises and challenges of today’s technology.

In an effort to better understand some of the issues involved, I propose an ethnographic study of members of the three main groups involved: Studio marketing and legal representatives, producers/writers, and fans/consumers. I will focus primarily on science fiction properties and their fans, and in particular, the Browncoat fandom community, fans of Joss Whedon’s television series Firefly & the follow-up movie, Serenity. Interviews will be conducted with fans actively involved in creating user-generated content and fan-made product for sale/exchange. An attempt will also be made to interview Whedon himself, as well as other science fiction writers/producers. Ideally, interviews will also be obtained with marketing/legal representatives from large production studios. In addition, qualitative demographic, affective connection, and technology skill surveys of fans, will be collected online, as well as at major science fiction conventions.

The goal of this research is to work toward uncovering new modes of studio production and distribution, through such possible paths as “micro-licensing”, Creative Commons-released media, and other routes of cooperative production that involve fans, studios, and writers/producers in mutually profitable ventures.

Aaron Shaw

Sociology, UC Berkeley

Theorizing the Knowledge-Based Economy Beyond Polanyi: Lessons from IBM's Pragmatic Embrace of Free and Open Source Software

Sociologists have struggled to theorize the impact of information technologies and the knowledge-based exchange on the capitalist world system. The rise of neoliberal free market ideologies has inspired a Polanyian turn in these debates. According to this view, an elite attempt to impose the ideology of the "disembedded" free market has provoked a transnational groundswell of "movements for social protection." Correspondingly, scholars have interpreted the expansion of global informational capitalism as the vanguard of a "second enclosure movement" through which multinational corporations erect restrictive intellectual property regulations around society's "information commons" and inflict a pernicious variety of "primitive accumulation" by dispossession. The most recent research in the field has extended this position, contending that knowledge itself has become a "fictitious commodity" and prophesying the appearance of social movements that will seek to "re-embed" knowledge as a common public resource.

While the polarized moral tenor of these arguments is seductive, such a Manichean vision of the digital age obscures more than it reveals. The ongoing evolution of knowledge-based capitalism, and in particular of the global IT industry, has broken the putative causal link between proprietary knowledge enclosure and corporate gain. Many of the largest and wealthiest multinational IT firms do not seek to maximize profits exclusively through intellectual property rent-extraction. Rather, the rise of Free and Open Source Software within the industry has spawned new strategies of competition based around collaborative networks, social production, and distributed innovation. A Kuhnian "paradigm shift" has occurred whereby the old rules of competition - the dominant "conceptions of control" within the market - no longer obtain.

In this paper, I undertake a preliminary reconstruction of sociological theories of capitalist market regulation and knowledge enclosures in light of recent developments in the global IT industry. Loosely adapting Michael Burawoy's "extended case method," I consider how the experience of IBM - the largest and most influential IT firm to integrate Free and Open Source Software into its business model - sheds light on these issues. In particular, I examine how IBM has sought to recast itself as a "globally integrated enterprise" through a "pragmatic embrace" of non-proprietary IP and open standards. Using archival and content analysis, as well as key-informant interviews in Brazil (the location of one of IBM's oldest and most profitable foreign subsidiaries), I tell a cautionary tale about the hazards of equating "openness" and "freedom" in software with a broader agenda of egalitarian social reform. My findings imply that the IT industry is not simply a monolithic "market" bent on the commodification of knowledge-based goods, but rather an economic field in the throes of a competitive re-shuffling. As a result, I propose a turn away from Polanyian analytical framings in favor of a more comprehensive critique of knowledge-based capital rooted in "thick" notions of social well-being.

Yuri Takhteyev

School of Information, UC Berkeley

Behind an Open Source Project: Combining On- and Off-line Ethnographic Methods

Ethnographers usually study social environments by “being there,” traditionally understood as being there physically, ideally for an extended period of time and in some isolation from one’s native environment. This approach to being there has become complicated recently. The appearance of “online places” (such as mailing lists or wikis) created altogether new kinds of “there” that the researcher could visit - “space-less places” that may seem altogether disconnected from physical space. Should such “places” be considered ethnographic sites that the researcher can enter, the “there” of an ethnographic project, or merely as artifacts that are ultimately produced by real people in real physical places – making those real places the appropriate sites of ethnographic investigation?

The answer to some extent depends on the specific “place” and a specific perspective that the ethnographer chooses. Online spaces are experienced as natural, pre-existing “places” by many of their participants and it may therefore be appropriate for the ethnographer to focus on “being there” in the online place, to the extent that the goal of the research is to understand the experience of the participants who see those places this way. At the same time, we must remember that such place are produced, perhaps even strategically. Looking at their production may teach us a lot about the nature of their place-ness. This production of online environments as places of a particular kind, is often a performance in Goffman’s sense, and understanding this performance requires that we look for the “backstage” in which it is prepared. We may find such backstage in a different online “place” or in a physical one. In fact, we may find a sequence (or rather a network) of stages.

Following the participants as they move between online and offline places allows us to see how such places are produced, observing both how face-to-face interactions are used in the production of online places as places of a particular kind (for instance, “an open community mailing list”) and how online interactions structure social relationships in face-to-face contexts. In my study of an open source project, I find such a network of places, each serving as a backstage for the production of a different one. Some of those places are virtual, others are physical, and neither kind can be fully understood without the other.

I will discuss a number of strategies, stressing the importance of truly participant observation that weaves together some private emails and IM conversations, some late night conversations over pizza, as well as quite a few hours alone in front of the monitor making sense of debug traces. By becoming a participant in the production of social contexts together with other participants, the ethnographer can see the links between the different places in a manner most similar to the way the participants see it, even if having little guarantee of being able to interpret such observations the same way. I also present the challenges of such work, and some tentative solutions.

Jennifer Thom-Santelli

Department of Communication, Cornell University

Expressing Territoriality in Social Systems

When individuals occupy public space, whether physical or virtual, issues relating to control and ownership can arise between the space’s inhabitants. Such expressions of ownership serve to designate an object of interest as a territory to be defended and controlled. When the social actors in a space work collaboratively toward a shared goal, these expressions may become more apparent and distinct. Drawing from Altman (1976), Brown et. al. (2005), and Goffman (1971), I treat these expressions as examples of territoriality, behaviors and actions communicating ownership toward an object, whether physical, social or virtual. In this research, I extend upon prior work (Altman, 1976; Goffman, 1971) by proposing that territoriality also arises within online spaces as well, particularly in cases where the actors are engaged in collaborative activity. I also propose that territoriality is not necessarily detrimental in a social system. In situations where the accountability of completing a shared task is ambiguous, territoriality acts as a clarifying signal to collaborators, allowing for a smoother division of labor by lessening conflicts over ownership (Edney, 1974). The characteristic expressions of territoriality that I focus on are marking, defense and linguistic collusion. Marking involves the placement of an object or substance into a space to indicate one’s territory (Brown et. al., 2005). Conversely, territoriality can be behaviorally expressed through defense, which can be described as actions in response to an infringement (Brown et. al., 2005). Linguistic collusion involves the use of insider language and terminology to keep outsiders from breaching an already established private social territory (Scott & Lyman, 1976).

Using a mixed-method case study approach, I use interviews to examine the characteristic expressions of territoriality in two social systems: Wikipedia and an enterprise social tagging repository. Wikipedia’s editors, for example, are primarily concerned with the production of articles (Bryant, Forte & Bruckman, 2005). The contributors to the enterprise social tagging repository participate in order to make resources visible to the community, route information to the proper parties and categorize internal documents for the corporate intranet. The interviews are a formative step to obtain ground-level observations of territorial expressions to guide the development of quantitative proxy measures of territoriality to be employed in log analysis to observe these behaviors on a larger scale.

In this paper, I will specifically discuss the interview portion of this research. In semi-structured interviews conducted with 33 contributors to the social tagging repository, initial results indicate that social taggers employ linguistic collusion by choosing specific tags, understandable primarily to those who are part of their group or community (Thom-Santelli, Muller & Millen, 2008). Further analysis suggests that a portion of the informants who identify as thought leaders continue to participate regularly to the tagging repository by adding novel information resources to maintain their reputation as experts and to express ownership of a particular intellectual territory (e.g. a particular topic). Work-in-progress includes semi-structured interviews drawn from members of specific Wikipedia projects to establish how community members express territoriality, whether through language use or other markers, such as reverting edits.

Peter Timusk

Systems Sciences Masters Program, University of Ottawa

Can knowledge in a knowledge production workplace be measured quantitatively?

Exploring measures of knowledge, intellectual capital, and techniques of knowledge production is needed to bring quantities into a systems model of the retirement of the baby boom from a knowledge intensive workplace. This paper is the first phase in building a model of the baby boom's retirement from a knowledge intensive workplace in a system analysis of the stocks and flows of knowledge management. This research explores best practices in knowledge management and models businesses where knowledge production is part of the productive reality of the company. As well as producing knowledge, a knowledge intensive workplace uses workers with high levels of education. This paper explores research in knowledge management and intellectual capital that seeks to measure the stocks and flows of knowledge production by determining quantitative measures of knowledge, intellectual capital, and techniques of knowledge production. The paper builds a better understanding of these measures and is the value exploration and conceptual design phase of the systems model. This will allow incorporation of the quantitative measures of knowledge production in a system analysis computer simulation model.

Karine Lan Hing Ting

Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications

Managing customer relationships during telephone sales in the context of the global distribution of work between an offshored and a French call center

Providing voice-to-voice service in call centers is a relatively new occupational domain (since the 1990’s) (Kjellerup, 1999) in which the use of ICT goes hand-in-hand with new forms of work organization. Through Business Process Outsourcing, the calls may be handled by subcontracting companies or across various call centers of the same organization across the world, creating global distribution of work completed by a newly emerging transnational labor force (Mirchandani, 2003).

What does the globalization of the ICT labor force and services offshoring imply in the day-to-day work activity of call center agents in terms of management paradigms and employee-customer interaction? How is the invisibility of this global distribution of work accomplished? Through which interactional mechanisms do agents establish the customer-organization relationship? How do the teams in the call center solve the problems which may arise from the global distribution of work, for example by scheduling actions and cognitively distributing the information with the Computer Telephony Integration (Hollan and al., 1999; Kirsch, 2001)? We will try to develop these issues through the analysis of the collaborative management of a telemarketing sales call between a telemarketer and her supervisor during a naturally-organized work situation (Luff and al., 2000; Heath and al. 2002).

Our data was collected using video ethnography in a French call center performing direct response marketing, which has offshored part of its activity in Mauritius1. The telemarketers’ task is to sell mobile telephony in two stages: the first, prospecting, is accomplished by a team in Mauritius and the second, contract validation, by a team in Bordeaux. The first agent conversationally negotiates the scheduling of the next call with the prospect, informing the latter that “her colleague” is going to call in thirty minutes. This categorization “colleague” and the scheduling (3pm) establish common space and time references warrant of trust and constant customer relationship, making this global distribution of work transparent for the customer. This invisibility of globally-distributed work is therefore accomplished technically, organizationally and interactionally. The time difference is not intentionally dissimulated: its transparency is embodied, first, in the CTI - the agents’ computer screen display the French hour zone – and, then, in the working hours – they start working at noon. We examine how the collaborative “talk as work” between the Mauritian telemarketer and her supervisor during their work practices and scheduling actions ensure the link with the team in Bordeaux, and at the same time make their professional competence (Goodwin, 1994) accountable. By finely analyzing the sequential organization of both the call and the collaborative interaction, our aim is to try to understand the reflexive link between the agents’ accomplishment of their work activity through talk and their orientation to the social-structural context (Wilson, 1991) of globalization, services offshoring and distributed work.

Ho Young Yoon

Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Social construction of the Internet Structure: Comparative Study on notebook retailers between United States and South Korea

The study tries to show the social constructionist viewpoint of the Internet structure by comparing the United States (US) and South Korea. Online notebook retailers' market is an example of outcomes induced by this process. The Internet structure is defined as navigational structure used by the Internet users. Each country has a distinct position in world internet statistics. The US is the highest country in absolute number of users and Korea is the highest country in 'Digital Opportunity Index' made by International Telecommunication Union.

The goal of this study lies on how combination between institutional arrangements and culture of the Internet use leads different trajectory of the Internet development. I argue that US has dispersed information structure and specialized market segments whereas Korea has centralized information sources and market in the Internet, as seen in the case of notebook retailers. In order to point this out, I will examine state-market relation, community and technology in the development of the Internet.

First, construction of the Internet is influenced by state-market relation. Commercial service was rapidly expanded in the US as the government has deregulated the Internet. Therefore, internet development has promoted by market boom. However, the Internet in Korea has developed under the supervision of the state as a strategic engine for national economic growth. As a result, infrastructure of the Internet has matured remarkably fast.

Second, the path to community development has also affected the formation of the Internet structure. In Korea, promising websites have been the site providing community space that users could create community cafe in the Internet. In doing so, information is concentrated on those websites and it was a priority of notebook retailers to set up linkages with the sites. In contrast, the US has developed specialized websites having reputation in notebook retailers and dispersed community space over the Internet. The centralized gathering spaces of users are recent phenomenon. For this reason, the Internet use in the US is relatively individualized than in Korea.

Third, technological focus in the Internet has impacts on the Internet structure. Because of the dispersed and individualized structure and enhanced technologies from the market, search engine plays crucial roles in the US. It implies relative high searching costs for users so that users tend to explore commercial reviews and price comparison from site to site. The technological advancement in Korea, however, has developed "total service¡" and contents created by users are accumulated to maintain visiting users. The notebook retailers need to adapt themselves in this arrangement.

In sum, this study examines the distinctive Internet structure between the US and Korea by comparing trajectory of the Internet development. Although online notebook retailers market is one case, I believe understanding on the Internet structure will serve fruitful framework for studying social change in the Internet such as political mobilizations and culture.