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Microsoft Research Social Computing Symposium

Panelists, Speakers, and Organizers

danah boyd, Speaker

PhD student
Information Management and Systems
University of California, Berkeley


As a Ph.D student in Information Management and Systems at the University of California, Berkeley, danah boyd focuses on how people negotiate their presentation of self in relation to varying social contexts, including the digital realm. To understand this, she draws from diverse approaches, including explicit and implicit social networks, ethnographic materials and social visualizations. Most recently, danah has been studying the social behavior exhibited on Friendster and other social software.

Before attending Berkeley, Danah studied computer science at Brown University and sociable media at the MIT Media Lab. Her Master's thesis from MIT is entitled "Faceted Id/entity: Managing Representation in a Digital World." She also worked as an ethnographer for Intel and spent five years creating and managing an online community for V-Day, a non-profit working to end violence against women and girls worldwide.

For more information, visit danah's website at or her blog at

Short Talk Abstract:

Social networking is a fundamental feature of all social software. From blogrolls to Buddylists, people have learned to negotiate implicit networks in everyday digital interaction. Yet, in a re-popularization of a 1997 fad, social networking has achieved popular and technological prominence in its explicit form. Dozens of sites have emerged to address how social networks can help people connect to have sex, find jobs, sell cars, and waste inordinate amounts of time.

Embedded in the culture of social networks is an increasing tension between the creators and the users as each are unaware of the expectations and motivations of the other. In what ways are these sites intended to model offline behavior? How do the technological shifts create a shift in social behavior? Does current social theory properly explain the emerging behaviors or must new theories be developed that challenge the current?

Drawing from ethnographic research on Friendster and other social networking sites, this talk will address the tensions that have emerged between creators and users as both work to understand the emerging social and technological boundaries. Although technological solutions are often proposed to solve unexpected social behavior, it is precisely this behavior that teaches us the most about our social and technical frameworks.

Lili Cheng, Organizer

Group Manager
Social Computing Group
Microsoft Research


Lili Cheng is the Group Manager of the Social Computing Group in Microsoft Research. Lili arrived in Microsoft Research back in 1995 as a member of the Virtual Worlds Group. She played a major role in the development of the Virtual Worlds Platform, lead the design and development of HutchWorld a shared space for cancer patients and their support network and she was a key member of the team that created Microsoft V-Chat. Before coming to Microsoft, she worked at Apple Computer in the Human Interface research group on a series of projects that integrated digital video technologies, including QuickTime VR and QuickTime Conferencing (real time, networked, collaboration software enabling data/audio/video communication). Prior to Apple, Lili was at NYU where she designed the user interface for YORB, a program broadcast tri-weekly on Manhattan cable. Using YORB, home viewers could navigate a 3-D world and share personal content and by speaking and using their touch tone telephone. Lili is also a registered architect and has worked for the architecture firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill designing urban, public spaces in both Tokyo and Los Angeles. She continues to participate in this field by guest lecturing at the Harvard Design School and working on projects with the MIT Architecture School.

Elizabeth Churchill, Speaker

Senior Research Scientist
Social Computing Research Group
FX Palo Alto Laboratory, Inc.
3400 Hillview Ave., Bldg. 4
Palo Alto, CA 94304


I joined FX Palo Alto Laboratory in February of 1997 and am project leader of the Social Computing research group. Our research focus is the design, deployment and evaluation of technologies that facilitate human-human communication, coordination and collaboration. In addition to designing technologies, much of our work within the group is to reflect on alternative methodologies for the design of collaboration technologies, with a special focus on fieldwork for design and usability evaluation.

Following my Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, I taught and researched in the U.K. at the University of Nottingham in the Departments of Psychology, Computer Science and the Graduate Institute of Information Technology. My teaching areas were Cognitive Psychology, Applied Psychology and Human Factors, with a special focus on Human Computer Interaction. My main research focus at Nottingham was implicit and explicit cognitive processes and the implications thereof for the design of computer interfaces and virtual environments. Whilst at Nottingham, I also co-organised CVE 96, the first conference concerned with the research and development of collaborative virtual environments. Since then I have co-chaired CVE '98 (report of CVE'98) and CVE 2000, the latter with sponsorship from the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM).

Prior to working at Nottingham, I gained an undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology, and an MSc in Intelligent Knowledge Based Systems (both from the University of Sussex). My Ph.D. research was in Cognitive Science and was carried out at the Applied Psychology Unit and the Xerox Research Centre in Cambridge (formerly EuroPARC). This research was concerned with designing, developing and evaluating computational models of user-device interaction.

Michael Cornfield, Panelist

Associate Research Professor
Graduate School of Political Management
George Washington University

Michael Cornfield is an Associate Research Professor at The Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) of The George Washington University. He also serves as Research Director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy, & the Internet (

The mission of the Institute is to promote the use of the Internet in ways that uphold democratic values. Cornfield's publications for the Institute include three editions of "Online Campaigning: A Primer, a study for Harvard University on how the Internet was used during the 2000 Republican Convention; Untuned Keyboards: Campaigners, Citizens, and Portals in the 2002 Elections (with Lee Rainie and John Horrigan of the Pew Internet & American Life Project); The Net and the Nomination, (with Jonah D. Seiger), and two books: Politics Moves Online (The Century Foundation, 2004) and The Civic Web, co-edited with David M. Anderson (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003).

Cornfield writes a monthly column, "The Online Campaigner," for Campaigns and Elections magazine, the leading trade publication for professional politicians. He is interviewed frequently about online politics by the press, and has lectured on the subject at colleges, universities, and association conventions throughout the world. A professor at the GSPM since 1994, Cornfield teaches the core course on strategy and message development, and a course on politics and the media.

Cornfield received his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University. Before coming to The George Washington University, he taught at the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary. He lives with his wife Kathryn Mimberg and son Matthew in Arlington,Virginia.

Ward Cunningham, Speaker



Ward Cunningham is a computer programmer and the inventor of the WikiWiki concept.

He founded the first wiki site, the Portland Pattern Repository, in 1995. The site, which is still active, is dedicated to "people, projects, and patterns" and is an "informal history of programming ideas". For instance, the site has been used for cataloging useful pattern languages of software development and for developing the software method of extreme programming. Cunningham states that the wiki concept came to him in the late 1980s, and he implemented it first in a HyperCard stack. He is the co-author (with Bo Leuf) of the book The Wiki Way (2001).

Ward Cunningham is a founder of Cunningham & Cunningham, Inc. He has also served as Director of R&D at Wyatt Software and as Principal Engineer in the Tektronix Computer Research Laboratory. Ward is well known for his contributions to the developing practice of object-oriented programming, the variation called Extreme Programming, and the communities hosted by his WikiWikiWeb. He is founder of the Hillside Group and has served as program chair of the Pattern Languages of Programs conference which it sponsors. Since December 2003 he works for Microsoft.

Judith Donath, Speaker

Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences
MIT Media Lab


Judith Donath is an Assistant Professor at the MIT Media Lab, where she directs the Sociable Media research group. Her work focuses on the social side of computing, synthesizing knowledge from fields such as graphic design, urban studies and cognitive science to build innovative interfaces for online communities and virtual identities. She pioneered a number of social applications for the web, including the first postcard service ("The Electric Postcard"), the first interactive, juried art show ("Portraits in Cyberspace") and an early large-scale web event ("A Day in the Life of Cyberspace"). Recently, she directed "Id/Entity", an exhibit of collaboratively produced installations examining science and technology's transformation of the subject and form of portraiture. Her current research focuses on creating expressive visualizations of social interactions and on building experimental environments that mix real and virtual experiences. Professor Donath received her doctoral and master's degrees in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT, her bachelor's degree in History from Yale University, and has worked professionally as a designer and builder of educational software and experimental media.

Short Talk Abstract:

My talk will be about the presentation and perception of identity in online dating sites. Dating is a process of identity assessment. Each person attempts to discover the other persons fundamental qualities, while simultaneously attempting to make themselves as attractive as possible to the other. We can frame this as a signaling system: the qualities people care about are not readily observable; instead, one perceives signals that are more or less reliably correlated with these qualities. Whether online or off, the qualities people care about are the same what changes in the online world are the signals and the context in which the participants interact. In dating, questions of honesty are numerous. The signalers are attempting to present themselves in the most favorable light, while the receivers are attempting to attain the most honest assessment of the signalers actual qualities such as their marital status, relationship intentions, sense of humor, etc. In the face to face world, such assessments are difficult enough. In the online world, the reliability of the signals drops dramatically, since the only signals are the easily manipulated text and images contributed by the signaler. Yet these signals can be reliable. Signaling theory tells us that in order to be reliably correlated with a quality, either the signal must be costly in the domain of the quality or there must be some means for the receivers to impose costs on dishonest signalers. The key point of my talk will be that this model produces a number of interesting design considerations for the structure of future dating sites.

Rael Dornfest, Speaker

O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.


Rael Dornfest ( assesses, experiments, programs, writes, and edits for OReilly & Associates. He is Series Editor of the O'Reilly Hacks Series, Program Chair for the OReilly Emerging Technology Conference. In his copious free time, Rael develops bits and bobs of freeware, including the Blosxom weblog application ( is Editor in Chief of MobileWhack ( and shares some of his daily noodlings on his raelity bytes weblog (

Short Talk Abstract:

Harnessing the "natural" behavior of end-users in their online expression via the Blosxom weblog application, and real mobility, how real people use their mobile devices in their daily untethered lives.

Thomas Erickson, Speaker

Research Staff Member
Interaction Design and Research
Social Computing Group
IBM T. J. Watson Research Center


Thomas Erickson practices interaction design and research at IBM's T. J. Watson Research Center. His current work involves studying and designing systems for supporting computer mediated communication (CMC), and his principle aim is to create systems that mesh with the social processes that govern our daily communication practices. His approach to systems design is shaped by theory and methods developed in HCI, CSCW, rhetoric and sociology, and by design approaches and techniques drawn from architecture and urban design. Prior to joining IBM Research in 1997, he spent nine years at Apple Research, five years at startup called Software Products International, and five years doing graduate work in Cognitive Psychology at UC San Diego. Erickson has published numerous papers, and has been involved in the design of over a dozen systems ranging from advanced research prototypes to commercial products.

Short Talk Abstract:

In this talk I will explore the notion that "social computing" can be taken quite literally. That is, that there are certain classes of computations in which the computing 'elements' are people who are connected via social relationships, geographic or proximate relationships, discourse roles, or other factors, into de facto computational architectures, and whose collective activity can be construed as a computation. Examples of such 'computational mechanisms include auctions, elections, and review processes. Given this perspective, i ask how we might go about designing such systems.

My approach has been to explore the use of persistent, shared visual representations that enable participants to develop contributions that 'fit' with what the rest of the group is doing. Drawing upon a number of examples from my design work, I present some claims about how to design such shared representations.

Shelly Farnham, Organizer, Speaker

Social Computing Group
Microsoft Research


Shelly Farnham is a researcher in the Social Computing Group at Microsoft Research, where she studies computer-mediated social interactions. Her current research focuses on factors that enhance the users experience of online identity, community, and communication. Recent projects include tools that help people find each other, communicate, and share in the context of social networks: Personal Map, Connections, Point to Point, Wallop. She earned her Ph.D. in Social Psychology at the University of Washington, where she studied the interplay between identity, social environments, and behavior.

Short Talk Abstract:

Technology is increasingly being incorporated into peoples day-to-day social relationships, particularly for people whose friendships occupy the center of their social lives. I will discuss several projects that explore how co-located social groups may plan and re-experience social events through communication technologies, and the impact of said usage on community development. I will then discuss implications for the design of social computing communication and social awareness technologies.

Andrew T. Fiore, Speaker

Graduate Student Researcher
Sociable Media Group
MIT Media Lab


Andrew T. Fiore is a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab, where he currently studies online dating from an analytic and ethnographic perspective. Previously, he has analyzed and visualized newsgroup and email interactions at Microsoft Research and wireless network usage at Cornell University. He received his B.A. from Cornell University, where his independent major spanned sociology, computer science, and human-computer interaction. He is particularly interested in mediated relationships and the role of affect in computer-mediated communication.

Ze Frank, Panelist


Ze Frank is an online performance artist and humorist. won the 2002 Webby for the best personal website (People's Voice award).  The sheer variety of videos, toys, essays, and other projects - all created by Ze Frank - show him to be a kind of genius in creating online experiences.   Ze Frank received a BS in neuroscience from Brown University in '95.  He played in a band for three years before getting into Web design and Flash.

Scott Heiferman, Keynote Speaker



Scott Heiferman co-founded in 2002 (the global group gathering tool), in 2002 (the leading photo weblog platform, used by over a quarter million people, and viewed by nearly 1 million people daily), and i-traffic in 1995 (the first online ad agency, a pioneer in search-keyword media placement, and now one of the largest online media buyers, with offices in the U.S. and Europe).

Scott is CEO of, a global non-partisan platform that helps people organize monthly local real-world gatherings about anything anywhere. Nearly 1 million people (and growing) have signed up to Meetup with a group of neighbors about knitting, chihuahuas, diabetes, George Bush, and thousands of other topics. Meetup's investors and Board Members include Esther Dyson, Andreas Stavropoulos (DFJ), and Pierre Omidyar (Founder/Chairman, eBay). In 1994, Scott was "Interactive Marketing Frontiersman" at Sony, where he created Sony's first consumer online presence. He graduated from The University of Iowa and has posted a photo on his personal Fotolog every day for three years.

Susan Herring, Speaker

School of Library and Information Science
Indiana University


Susan Herring is Professor of Information Science and Linguistics at Indiana University Bloomington, and Editor-Elect of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication ( Trained in linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, she was one of the first scholars to apply linguistic methods of analysis to computer-mediated communication on the Internet. Over the past decade, she has consolidated these methods into an approach known as Computer-Mediated Discourse Analysis, which she has used to analyze such phenomena as gender styles, (im)politeness, (in)formality, (in)coherence, and change over time in Internet discussion groups. More recently, she has developed methods for the analysis of multimedia communication on the World Wide Web and in graphical chat systems. Currently, she directs the BROG (Blog Research on Genre) project at Indiana University, and has begun studying the language of wikis. Her publications on CMC and CMDA include numerous scholarly articles and four edited collections: Computer-Mediated Communication: Linguistic, Social and Cross-Cultural Perspectives (Benjamins, 1996), Computer-Mediated Discourse Analysis (EJC, 1997), The Multilingual Internet: Language, Culture and Communication in Instant Messaging, E-mail and Chat (JCMC, 2003, with Brenda Danet), and Computer-Mediated Conversation (Hampton, in press).

Joi Ito, Panelist

Neoteny Inc.


Joichi Ito is the founder and CEO of Neoteny (, venture capital firm focused on personal communications and enabling technologies. He has created numerous Internet companies including PSINet Japan, Digital Garage and Infoseek Japan. In 1997 Time Magazine ranked him as a member of the CyberElite. In 2000 he was ranked among the "50 Stars of Asia" by Business Week and commended by the Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications for supporting the advancement of IT. In 2001 the World Economic Forum chose him as one of the 100 "Global Leaders of Tomorrow" for 2002. Last year he joined the board of Creative Commons and was appointed a member of Howard Dean's Net Advisory Net.

Mizuko (Mimi) Ito, Speaker

Research Associate
Annenberg Center for Communication
University of Southern California


Mizuko (Mimi) Ito is a cultural anthropologist of technology use, focusing on children and youths changing relationships to media and communications. Her current research is on Japanese technoculture and childrens media, and she is co-editing a book entitled, Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life. She is a Research Associate at the Annenberg Center for Communication and a Teaching Fellow at the Anthropology Department at the University of Southern California. Past workplaces include the Institute for Research on Learning, Xerox PARC, Tokyo University, the National Institute for Educational Research in Japan, and Apple Computer.

Short Talk Abstract: Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life

Ever since NTT Docomo launched its i-mode mobile Internet service in 1999, Japan has had an international leadership role in the wireless revolution. Behind these recent developments is a history of over ten years of widespread mobile communication, beginning with the adoption of pager text messaging by teenage girls in the early nineties. Now mobile phones are a ubiquitous and essential part of Japanese life, not only for business people and youth, but also across the social spectrum. The focus of the talk will be on ethnographic case studies of how mobile messaging and camera phone usage is embedded in the social networks and cultural ecologies of Japanese youth. These cases will be discussed in relation to the broader trend towards portable and ubiquitous media forms that make digital content and communication highly personalized and seamlessly integrated with more and more settings of everyday life. The central argument is that current trends in mobile media point to a significant shift in the role of information and communication technology: a role that is more pervasive, lightweight, personal, and pedestrian, in contrast to the PC centered uses that have dominated in the US.

Steven Johnson, Panelist



Steven Johnson is the author of Emergence: The Connected Lives Of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software (Scribner), acclaimed as one of the best books of 2001 by Esquire, The Village Voice,, and Discover Magazine. The UK Guardian called Emergence "intelligent, witty and tremendously thought-provoking," and it was named as a finalist for the Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism. His new book, Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life was published by Scribner in February 2004.  Johnson was also cofounder and editor-in-chief of FEED, the pioneering online magazine, as well as a co-creator of the Webby-award-winning community site, Johnson's writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, Harper's, and the London Guardian, as well as on the op-ed pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He writes the monthly "Emerging Technology" column for Discover magazine, and is a Contributing Editor to Wired. The New York Times' Michiko Kakutani called his first book, Interface Culture, "one of the most thoughtful, literate studies yet published on the cultural impact of recent technological changes."  Johnson teaches at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program, and has degrees in Semiotics and English Literature from Brown and Columbia Universities. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons. 

Wendy Kellogg, Speaker

Social Computing Group
IBM T.J. Watson Research Center SocialComputing/WendyKellogg.htm


Wendy A. Kellogg is Manager of Social Computing ( SocialComputing/) at IBM's T. J. Watson Research Center. Her current work involves defining and promoting the emerging field of social computing, as well as designing, building, and evaluating computer-mediated communication (CMC) systems. Dr. Kellogg's work in human-computer interaction (HCI) over the last two decades spans theory, evaluation methods, multidisciplinary software design, and development. She holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Oregon and is author of numerous papers in the fields of HCI and CSCW (Computer-Supported Cooperative Work), including guest editing a recent special issue of Human-Computer Interaction entitled "New Agendas for Human-Computer Interaction." Dr. Kellogg is an ACM Fellow and a member of the National Research Council's Computer Science and Telecommunications Board.

Sean Kelly, Speaker

Research Developer
Social Computing Group
Microsoft Research


Sean is a research developer in the Social Computing Group at Microsoft Research.  Sean has worked on several projects including Wallop and the Virtual Worlds Platform.  Sean earned a master in interactive technology from the ITP program at NYU.

Pam Meyer, Panelist

Manhattan Studios


Pamela Meyer is CEO of Manhattan Studios, a New York-based finance and consulting company that was founded in 1995 in association with Prodigy Services Corp. Manhattan Studios works exclusively with film, television, cable and Internet companies, and specializes in structuring joint ventures, managing product launches, and raising private equity.

Manhattan Studios incubated and founded Faith Online Inc, and the online spiritual network and its network of 8 websites comprise the Internets most comprehensive resource on spirituality, religion and belief systems. Manhattan Studios is poised to launch six social networking services in Spring, 2004.

Ms Meyer has worked for many years in the film and television business, holding senior management positions at Electronic Arts, National Geographic Television and Vestron. She has a long history of involvement in public media and broadcasting initiatives, first as the founder of the California Community TV Network, a network of full service non-commercial TV stations, and more recently as the managing director of Media, Arts and Culture at the Ford Foundation where she oversaw the Foundations group responsible for philanthropic investments in arts and media content, infrastructure and public policy.

Ms Meyer holds an MBA from Harvard, and a Masters in Public Policy from which she attended as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs.

Tim OReilly, Panelist

O'Reilly & Associates


Tim O'Reilly is the founder and CEO of O'Reilly & Associates, thought by many to be the best computer book publisher in the world. O'Reilly also publishes online through the O'Reilly Network ( and hosts conferences on technology topics. Tim is an activist for open source and open standards, and an opponent of software patents and other incursions of new intellectual property laws into the public domain. He is on the boards of Macromedia, CollabNet, Grand Central, and the Open Source Applications Foundation. His big concern is showing how the "architecture of participation" is a much bigger element than software licensing in the open source debate, and how systems can be designed to encourage collaboration and innovation from the edges while allowing for value capture by a system's designers and creators. He's also fascinated by the way that we're starting to see "second order" business and social changes as networking becomes widespread.

Panel discussion points:

Social Software: 1) Phenomena as disparate as open source software, sites like Amazon, EBay, and P2P file sharing networks share a key design insight: they are architected in such a way that people create a valuable collective work as a side-effect of pursuing their own individual goals. How do we architect social software systems such that they create collective value in this way? 2) How do we ensure that users remain in control of the data they create in these systems? (That is, how do we get beyond open source to open data systems, and when are they appropriate?) Current social software experiments (friendster, orkut, LinkedIn etc.) are hacks that require a huge amount of unnecessary work from users, since they don't leverage the tools that we are already using for communication.

How can we integrate the tools we use every day with software that allows us to visualize, search, aggregate, and otherwise build collective value?

What obstacles are being put in place by vendors (whether software vendors or phone carriers) that keep us from interoperability?

How can we make the new mobile platforms more "hackable", so that we can see more innovation from the edges?

Jenny Preece, Speaker

Information Systems Dept.
University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)


Jenny Preece is professor of information systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Dr. Preece is author, coauthor or editor of seven books including: Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction (2002) ( and Online Communities: Designing Usability, Supporting Sociability (2000) ( Both books are published by John Wiley & Sons. Dr. Preece is author of over one hundred refereed journal and conference publications in addition to book chapters and other articles; she serves on four editorial boards and. she is the organizer of the First International Conference on Online Communities and Social Computing in 2005 in Las Vegas.

Short Talk Abstract:

Online communities have become a key source of information and support. These communities enable patients to cope better with their diseases, students to discuss homework projects, hobbyists to pursue their passions, and teens to chat about their lives. Scholars use them to track academic topics, lawyers seek legal information, and professionals exchange business knowledge. A variety of software facilitates information exchange and communication including discussion boards, instant messaging, blogs, wikis, and immersive virtual environments. In this talk I define the concept of an online community, review the terrain of research and briefly present some of my own contributions, for example: a framework for developing and analyzing online communities, a method for evaluating their success, and studies of empathy and information exchange, participation and lurking online. I will then propose an agenda for future research that calls for paying more attention to the special needs of minority groups, for example: children, older adults, users with low literacy, and multi-lingual, cross cultural, and international communities. This work provides new opportunities for researchers to contribute to international development, education, cultural heritage, civic participation and environmental awareness. Designs that empower these users will also bring new marketing opportunities.

Paul Resnick, Speaker

Associate Professor
School of Information
University of Michigan


Paul Resnick is Associate Professor at the University of Michigan School of Information. He previously worked as a researcher at AT&T Labs and AT&T Bell Labs, and as an Assistant Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He received the master's and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT, and a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan.

Professor Resnick's research focuses on SocioTechnical Capital, productive social relations that are enabled by the ongoing use of information and communication technology. His current projects include analyzing and designing reputation systems that help maintain trust among strangers on-line, and structuring on-line communities in a way that motivates contributions to the communal good.

Resnick was a pioneer in the field of recommender systems (sometimes called collaborative filtering or social filtering). Recommender systems guide people to interesting materials based on recommendations from other people. He chaired the PICS Interest Group at MIT's World Wide Web Consortium and was one of the main authors of the PICS technical specifications. PICS, the Platform for Internet Content Selection, provides a common infrastructure for the creation of labeling systems, and filtering software based on those labels.

Short Talk Abstract:

reputation system gives people information about others' past performance. It can enhance an on-line interaction environment by:
--helping people decide who to trust;
--encouraging people to be more trustworthy;
--encouraging trustworthy people to participate.
I will summarize both theoretical, observational, and experimental work relevant to the design of reputation systems.

Warren Sack, Speaker

Assistant Professor
Film & Digital Media Department;
affiliated with the Computer Science Department
University of California, Santa Cruz


Warren Sack is a software designer and media theorist whose work explores theories and designs for online public space and public discussion. Before joining the faculty at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the Film & Digital Media Department, Warren was an assistant professor at UC Berkeley and director of the Social Technologies Research Group; a research scientist at the MIT Media Laboratory; and, a research collaborator in the Interrogative Design Group at the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies. He earned a B.A. from Yale College and an S.M. and Ph.D. from the MIT Media Laboratory. More information about Warren Sack's current work can be found at this website:

Short Talk Abstract: Public Space, Public Discussion and Social Computing

As a technical field, social computing explores two questions: (A) How can the insights of social science be applied to design better software? And, (B) How can software be designed to address outstanding social problems? The first question (A) is amply illustrated with, for instance, the recent successes of so-called recommender systems or collaborative filters (like the People who buy this book also buy feature at and link-based Internet search engines (like These services incorporate newer information indexing and retrieval algorithms that borrow heavily from sociology (especially social network analysis). The second question (B) is more open-ended, but recent work has yielded interesting insights. For example, can software be designed to assist in the renewal of what sociologist Robert Putnam terms "social capital"? Our recent work attempts to articulate and address outstanding social problems of online public space and public discussion: (1) What is a good public discussion? (2) What is a good public space? (3) What (software) technologies can be designed to make a public space better for discussion and exchange? Through the demonstration of several of our systems we hope to illustrate how both (A) we have applied insights from social science to the design of software; and, (B) we are addressing social problems with software.

Clay Shirky, Panelist



Mr. Shirky divides his time between consulting, teaching, and writing on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. His consulting practice is focused on the rise of decentralized technologies such as peer-to-peer, web services, and wireless networks that provide alternatives to the wired client/server infrastructure that characterizes the Web. Current clients include Nokia, GBN, the Library of Congress, the Highlands Forum, the Markle Foundation, and the BBC.

In addition to his consulting work, Mr. Shirky is an adjunct professor in NYU's graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), where he teaches courses on the interrelated effects of social and technological network topology -- how our networks shape culture and vice-versa. His current course, Social Weather, examines the cues we use to understand group dynamics in online spaces and the possible ways of improving user interaction by redesigning our social software to better reflect the emergent properties of groups.

Linda Stone, Panel Moderator


Linda Stone co-founded and directed the Virtual Worlds (now Social Computing Group) in Microsoft Research in 1994. This research group focused on improving online human social interactions and continues to do this work today. Stone initiated and directed a variety of projects including HutchWorld, PhotoStory and V-Chat. In early 2000, Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, tapped Stone to move from the "virtual world" to the "real world." For 2 years, Stone served under Ballmer as a corporate VP for Microsoft, working actively to improve Microsoft's external relationships and create a variety of outreach initiatives. Many of these efforts live on today, such as, the Visiting Speaker Series and Microsoft's World Economic Forum participation. Prior to her tenure at Microsoft, Stone worked at Apple for 7.5 years on market development and developer relations, initiating many key technology, evangelism and market development initiatives pioneering multimedia and online publishing. Stone also worked for Apple CEO, John Sculley. She retired from Microsoft in April 2002 to work on writing and creative projects. A devastating house fire created some distractions. Today, she writes, speaks, consults, and can answer way too many questions about bad faith insurance practices. Stone serves on the national board of the World Wildlife Fund, has won volunteer awards for her work with Dean Kamen's F.I.R.S.T. non-profit, and is involved with the Philanthropic Collaborative for Integrative Medicine.

David Weinberger, Panelist



Co-author of the The Cluetrain Manifesto, author of Small Pieces Loosely Joined." Commentator on NPR's "All Things Considered" and "Here and Now." Senior Internet Advisor to the Dean campaign. Published in Wired, Harvard Business Review, Salon, The NY Times, Esther Dyson's Release 1.0 and many more. VP Marketing at some innovative startups. Ph.D. in philosophy. Author of the worst-selling book on Lisp in history. Currently working on the importance of preserving the unspoken in the face of the increasing demand for explicit data and metadata.

Panel discussion points:

There's a paradox in voting: In casting a ballot, we both affirm our individuality and embrace our being exactly the same as every other voter ("one person, one vote"). Politics until this season has generally seen the Net only as a tool of sameness and massness, not as a tool of individuality. In part this is by habit, for politics has adopted the view of broadcasting and marketing that sees only demographic sliced consumers. In part it's because there hasn't been any obvious way to scale individual relationships: How many people can a candidate have a close and personal relationship with? In part it's because abandoning the broadcast view requires giving up some control over the campaign, which goes against every instinct of modern politics.

But, this season has taught us that there are ways to scale individual relationships that bring substantial political well as some risks. Rather than simply inverting the broadcast metaphor -- so that the massroots can believe they are driving the campaign and not just consuming it -- the Dean campaign figured out that it can scale individual relationships by fostering relationships among the supporters. That is, rather than reversing the flow of information so that it goes from bottom to top instead of from top to bottom, the Dean campaign went lateral. Take the leader out of the controlling center, build an infrastructure of connection, and supporters will organize themselves in truly unpredictable ways...for better or for worse.

Steve Whittaker, Speaker

Department Information Studies
Institution Sheffield University, UK stafpage/whittake/index.html


Steve Whittaker is Chair of Information Retrieval in the Information Studies Department at Sheffield University. He was trained as a cognitive psychologist, and spent 17 years in industrial research before returning to academia. His interests are in the theory, design and evaluation of communication and collaborative systems that are informed by human social and cognitive theories. He is particularly interested in informal communication, the role of visual information in communication and how people organise personal information. In the past he has researched, designed and built 10 novel systems supporting aspects of communication, personal information management and multimedia interfaces. He has published over 75 refereed papers, and is holder of 12 patents. He is on the Editorial boards of the Human Computer Interaction and Computer Supported Co-operative Work journals and was Chair of ACM CSCW 2000.

Short Talk Abstract:

Informal communication and the formation of complex social organisation are fundamental, but related aspects of human behaviour. I will talk about early attempts to build systems to support these processes, how our early design intuitions were not borne out by user experiments and experiences, and point to some outstanding issues in both these areas.

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