This schedule mirrors the schedule you see in Canvas. We do not link directly to the Zoom invitations here for security reasons
but instead to the Canvas page with the Zoom invitation link.
Alternatively, within Canvas you can download the course's event feed as an .ical file to
import into your personal calendar, which should contain lecture and section times, Zoom links, and assignment deadlines.
Mon, Mar 29
Introduction to social computing, this class, and each other.
Wed, Mar 31
A science of the artificial
Why is designing social technologies so hard? While code and databases can be rigid and brittle, as social actors, we have nuanced social
requirements and perform actions circumstantially. There is an inherent gap here that may be unbridgeable.
But trying to just directly replicate in-person interaction also misses out on new possibilities with technology.
Instead, in building a constructed world, what we are creating are new interactions---these are different from offline social
requirements but equally rich.
Suchman, Lucy. "Plans and Situated Actions: The problem of human-machine communication." 1985.
(Introduction and Conclusion)
Hollan, Jim, and Scott Stornetta. "Beyond being there." 1992. [pdf]
Ackerman, Mark S. "The intellectual challenge of CSCW: The gap between social requirements and technical feasibility." 2000. [pdf]
Project ideas brainstorm
3 project ideas
Mon, Apr 5
Evaluating social computing systems
One major difficulty with making progress in social computing systems research is how to do evaluation.
It is valuable to know if people will use a new design and how they would use it in a realistic setting.
However, recruitment, medium-to-long-term usage, and eventual adoption can be difficult to achieve.
Grudin, Jonathan. "Why CSCW applications fail: problems in the design and evaluation of organizational interfaces."
Bernstein, Michael S., Mark S. Ackerman, Ed H. Chi, and Robert C. Miller. "The trouble with social computing systems research." 2011.
Grevet, Catherine, and Eric Gilbert. "Piggyback prototyping: Using existing, large-scale social computing systems to prototype new ones." 2015.
Project evaluation brainstorm
3 evaluation ideas
Wed, Apr 7
Flexibility vs. formalization
Building on last week's readings, we dive deeper into the tradeoffs and opportunities for design in between
greater flexibility versus more formalized structure in technology-mediated social interaction.
This tension comes up repeatedly in social activities such as coordination, preference elicitation,
and communication. Requirements are also different depending on who is being coordinated and what they are coordinating on.
Finally, what gets captured vs not in the structure has political ramifications.
Shipman, Frank M., and Catherine C. Marshall. "Formality considered harmful: Experiences,
emerging themes, and directions on the use of formal representations in interactive systems."
Suchman, Lucy. "Do categories have politics? The language/action perspective reconsidered." 1993.
(Optionally, see 1,
Grinter, Rebecca E. "Workflow systems: Occasions for success and failure." 2000.
Valentine, Melissa A., Daniela Retelny, Alexandra To,
Negar Rahmati, Tulsee Doshi, and Michael S. Bernstein.
"Flash organizations: Crowdsourcing complex work by structuring crowds as organizations."
Mon, Apr 12
Power, labor, and delegation
As Suchman pointed out, design decisions in social computing systems can reinforce or reconfigure power.
What work becomes visible or invisible as a result of the design?
Who (or what) gets delegated new responsibilities? And who benefits from that additional work or that delegation?
the workplace, where there is usually already an existing power hierarchy, answers to these questions
can impact adoption.
Ribes, David, Steven Jackson, Stuart Geiger, Matthew Burton, and Thomas Finholt. "Artifacts that organize: Delegation in the distributed organization." 2013.
Cranshaw, Justin, Emad Elwany, Todd Newman, Rafal Kocielnik, Bowen Yu, Sandeep Soni, Jaime Teevan, and Andrés Monroy-Hernández. "Calendar. help: Designing a workflow-based scheduling agent with humans in the loop."
Star, Susan Leigh, and Anselm Strauss. "Layers of silence, arenas of voice:
The ecology of visible and invisible work." 1999.
Ekbia, Hamid, and Bonnie Nardi. "Heteromation and its (dis) contents: The invisible division of labor between humans and machines." 2014.
Project idea presentations and class feedback
Submit initial project proposal and finalize team composition
Wed, Apr 14
Though technology enables collaboration across distances, it is still difficult, as we have experienced to some degree in this pandemic
year of collaborating remotely.
There are also different kinds of distances---it can mean distance across space and time-zones, across time (synchronous vs asynchronous),
and across cultures and contexts.
Can design of social systems account for these distances or mitigate the struggles of working across them?
Olson, Gary M., and Judith S. Olson. "Distance matters." 2000.
- Matthiesen, Stina, and Pernille Bjørn. "When distribution of tasks and skills are fundamentally problematic: A failure story from global software outsourcing." 2017.
Reinecke, Katharina, Minh Khoa Nguyen, Abraham Bernstein, Michael Näf, and Krzysztof Z. Gajos.
"Doodle around the world: Online scheduling behavior reflects cultural differences in time perception and group decision-making."
Mon, Apr 19
Social translucence is about designing what social information we make visible to others,
what information has central vs peripheral awareness, and what we become accountable for as a result (I know that you know that I know...)
This visibility can be negotiated, sometimes even with technology itself as justification.
Finally, configuring what is "shared" changes when moving from a centralized space for social activity to a networked or personally filtered one.
Erickson, Thomas, and Wendy A. Kellogg. "Social translucence: an approach to designing systems that support social processes." 2000.
Nardi, Bonnie A., Steve Whittaker, and Erin Bradner. "Interaction and outeraction: Instant messaging in action." 2000.
Gilbert, Eric. "Designing social translucence over social networks." 2012.
Present Assignment 1
Assignment 1 write-up due before class.
Wed, Apr 21
Authenticity, vulnerability, and identity
An important aspect of social computing system design is designing capabilities for identity expression and management.
In time, we've gone from visions of a "identity-less utopia" in the days of the early internet to more recently,
Facebook's "Real Name" policy.
So should systems enforce any aspect of identity?
What meta-data can an individual associate with an
account, what aspects are salient in presentation to different audiences, and how expressive, flexible, and controllable is that presentation?
How much can we be authentically and fluidly ourselves given certain technical designs?
Nakamura, Lisa. "Race in/for cyberspace: Identity tourism and racial passing on the Internet." 1995.
Marwick, Alice E., and danah boyd. "I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience." 2011.
- Xiao, Sijia, Danaë Metaxa, Joon Sung Park, Karrie Karahalios, and Niloufar Salehi. "Random, Messy, Funny, Raw: Finstas as Intimate Reconfigurations of Social Media." 2020.
Haimson, Oliver. "Social media as social transition machinery." 2018.
Leavitt, Alex. "This is a Throwaway Account" Temporary Technical Identities and Perceptions of Anonymity in a Massive Online Community." 2015.
(Optional) Barlow, John Perry. "A declaration of the independence of cyberspace." 1996.
Mon, Apr 26
Self-expression and feedback loops
Social technologies today make design decisons and provide tools that shape individuals' self-expression or self-presentation,
either on their behalf or with their control.
They also regulate what kinds of self-expression are not permitted.
Once deployed on a platform and widely adopted, such digitally-mediated self-expression can result in feedback loops that
alter community norms or even societal expectations.
Hancock, Jeffrey T., Mor Naaman, and Karen Levy. "AI-mediated communication: definition, research agenda, and ethical considerations." 2020.
Tolentino, Jia. "The age of Instagram face." 2019.
Burke, Moira, Justin Cheng, and Bethany de Gant. "Social comparison and Facebook: Feedback, positivity, and opportunities for comparison." 2020.
Chancellor, Stevie, Jessica Pater, Trustin Clear, Eric Gilbert, and Munmun De Choudhury. "#thyghgapp: Instagram Content Moderation and Lexical Variation in Pro-Eating Disorder Communities." 2016.
Cheng, Justin, Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, Jure Leskovec. "How Community Feedback Shapes User Behavior." 2014.
Wed, Apr 28
Curation, amplification, and delivery of social content
As the amount of social content increases, the curation of that content for individuals burdened with information overload
becomes paramount. There are many ways to reduce this burden. Senders could be more selective about
whom they send to. Receivers could configure what they want to receive. Groups of people could collectively decide what is
desired versus not. Because this can be burdensome too, algorithms could try to learn these things to do them on behalf of people. That last strategy
is common now on many platforms but introduces new problems.
Resnick, Paul, Neophytos Iacovou, Mitesh Suchak, Peter Bergstrom, and John Riedl. "Grouplens: An open architecture for collaborative filtering of netnews."
Eslami, Motahhare, Aimee Rickman, Kristen Vaccaro, Amirhossein Aleyasen, Andy Vuong, Karrie Karahalios, Kevin Hamilton, and Christian Sandvig. ""I always assumed that I wasn't really that close to [her]" Reasoning about Invisible Algorithms in News Feeds." 2015.
Kairam, Sanjay, Mike Brzozowski, David Huffaker, and Ed Chi. "Talking in circles: selective sharing in google+." 2012.
Park, Soya, Amy X. Zhang, Luke S. Murray, and David R. Karger. "Opportunities for automating email processing: A need-finding study." 2019.
Stray, Jonathan. "Aligning AI Optimization to Community Well-Being." 2020.
Present mid-point project update
Submit project update and literature review
Mon, May 3
Agency, inclusivity, and ownership
Instead of builders imposing designs on users, what would it mean to design so that user
agency and consent comes first?
Instead of designers encoding a singular way of communicating into technology,
what if social systems allowed for people and groups to come up with their own designs and tailor it to their needs?
How much is this feasible for users to do on their own vs by communicating their requirements to
members of their community with programming skills?
Geiger, R. Stuart. "Bot-based collective blocklists in Twitter: the counterpublic moderation of harassment in a networked public space." 2016.
Fiesler, Casey, Shannon Morrison, and Amy S. Bruckman. "An archive of their own: A case study of feminist HCI and values in design." 2016.
Im, Jane, Jill Dimond, Melody Berton, Una Lee, Katherine Mustelier, Mark Ackerman, and Eric Gilbert. "Yes: Affirmative Consent as a Theoretical Framework for Understanding and Imagining Social Platforms." 2021.
(Optional) Kazemi, Darius. "Run your own social." 2019. [link]
Wed, May 5
Encouraging newcomers and motivating contribution
One of the first problems for any online social space is getting it off the ground.
Even when a community is established, it is still important to invite and bring in new members or else
the community may stagnate and eventually become like a "ghost town".
How can social computing systems be designed to motivate or incentivize contribution?
Ren, Yuqing, Robert Kraut, and Sara Kiesler. "Applying common identity and bond theory to design of online communities." 2007.
Burke, Moira, Cameron Marlow, and Thomas Lento. "Feed me: motivating newcomer contribution in social network sites." 2009.
Ford, Denae, Kristina Lustig, Jeremy Banks, and Chris Parnin. "" We Don't Do That Here" How Collaborative Editing with Mentors Improves Engagement in Social Q&A Communities."
Present Assignment 2
Assignment 2 write-up due before class
Mon, May 10
In every social setting, there are norms about what is acceptable behavior.
In a highly homogeneous and exclusive setting, norms may not need to be spoken.
But in open, diverse, and more inclusive settings, norms need to be visible and regularly and transparently enacted
in order to be broadly known and followed. The work of cultivating norms in an online social space
involves both design of tools as well as the human labor of community leaders.
Kiesler, Sara, Robert Kraut, Paul Resnick, and Aniket Kittur. "Regulating behavior in online communities." 2012.
Matias, J. Nathan. "The civic labor of volunteer moderators online." 2019.
Jhaver, Shagun, Amy Bruckman, and Eric Gilbert. "Does transparency in moderation really matter? User behavior after content removal explanations on reddit." 2019.
Wed, May 12
Conflict resolution and sanctions
Even in the days of MUDs, USENET newsgroups, and mailing lists, all the way to today, online social systems have had to contend with
anti-social, disruptive, and harassing behavior within their communities.
What should be done when someone violates the rules or norms in an online social setting?
How should a community address interpersonal conflicts that arise?
Kittur, Aniket, Bongwon Suh, Bryan A. Pendleton, and Ed H. Chi. "He says, she says: conflict and coordination in Wikipedia." 2007.
Schoenebeck, Sarita, Oliver L. Haimson, and Lisa Nakamura. "Drawing from justice theories to support targets of online harassment." 2020.
(Optional) Dibbell, Julian. "A rape in cyberspace or how an evil clown, a Haitian trickster spirit, two wizards, and a cast of dozens turned a database into a society." 1993.
[link] ((Content warning: rape)
Mon, May 17
Zooming out from the design of how to enforce or notify about rules is the broader question of
how rules get made and who has the power to participate in rule-making---questions of governance.
While some social technologies have encoded alternative governance structures, the majority of online social systems
have some sort of autocratic or technocratic structure with designated roles for administrators and moderators and
over the long term, ossified leadership, as opposed to democracy.
Lampe, Cliff, and Paul Resnick. "Slash (dot) and burn: distributed moderation in a large online conversation space." 2004.
Shaw, Aaron, and Benjamin M. Hill. "Laboratories of oligarchy? How the iron law extends to peer production." 2014.
Zhang, Amy X., Grant Hugh, and Michael S. Bernstein. "PolicyKit: Building Governance in Online Communities." 2020.
Schneider, Nathan. "Admins, mods, and benevolent dictators for life: The implicit feudalism of online communities."
(Optional) Freeman, Jo. "The tyranny of structurelessness." 1972.
Present Assignment 3
Assignment 3 write-up due before class
Wed, May 19
Platform governance and policy
The design of policy and technology goes hand in hand to affect use.
Today, we live in a world of "platform-ized" social spaces online, with a handfull of private companies that each have
massive user populations. In this environment, the governance of and governance by these platforms have huge
ramifications for society and public discourse.
What could we change about policy or about technology to make platforms more accountable to society?
Jackson, Steven J., Tarleton Gillespie, and Sandy Payette. "The policy knot: Re-integrating policy, practice and design in CSCW studies of social computing." 2014.
Klonick, Kate. "The new governors: The people, rules, and processes governing online speech." 2017.
[pdf] (Introduction and skim the rest)
Masnick, Mike. "Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech." 2019.
Zuckerman, Ethan. "What Is Digital Public Infrastructure?" 2020.
Mon, May 24
Contested public spheres
Hallin's spheres and the Overton window are both theories to describe a range of public consensus on political topics.
As more people move online and into large, public platforms where everyone has the capability to command a megaphone and
find like-minded people, some of these people will seek to use that power to push an agenda.
When that agenda is to spread disinformation or further polarization and mistrust,
is there anything we can do counter that with design?
Starbird, Kate, Ahmer Arif, and Tom Wilson. "Disinformation as collaborative work: Surfacing the participatory nature of strategic information operations." 2019.
Bail, Christopher A., Lisa P. Argyle, Taylor W. Brown, John P. Bumpus, Haohan Chen, MB Fallin Hunzaker, Jaemin Lee, Marcus Mann, Friedolin Merhout, and Alexander Volfovsky. "Exposure to opposing views on social media can increase political polarization." 2018.
Phillips, Whitney. "The oxygen of amplification." 2018.
Farrell, Henry, and Bruce Schneier. "Common-knowledge attacks on democracy." 2018.
Wed, May 26
Collective and civic action
Despite threats to democracy posed by social technologies, these spaces can also be an exciting
avenue to further collective and civic action in a democratic society. Social technologies can enable
grassroots political movements to grow that push for cultural and political change and also involve more people in the
process of governing by inviting greater public input and deliberation.
Many social technologies used for these purposes weren't built with them in mind. Could they better support these goals?
Barry, Elizabeth. "VTaiwan: public participation methods on the cyberpunk frontier of democracy." 2016.
Freelon, Deen, Charlton D. McIlwain, and Meredith Clark. "Beyond the hashtags: #Ferguson, #Blacklivesmatter, and the online struggle for offline justice." 2016.
Erete, Sheena, and Jennifer O. Burrell. "Empowered participation: How citizens use technology in local governance." 2017.
Ghoshal, Sucheta, and Amy Bruckman. "The role of social computing technologies in grassroots movement building." 2019.
Mahyar, Narges, Michael R. James, Michelle M. Ng, Reginald A. Wu, and Steven P. Dow. "CommunityCrit: inviting the public to improve and evaluate urban design ideas through micro-activities." 2018.
Present Assignment 4
Assignment 4 write-up due before class
Mon, May 31
Memorial Day (no class)
All these opportunities for greater participation enabled by social technologies in principle help to shift the power
balance from implementors, governors, and designers towards the people who are actually affected by the decisions that people in power make.
However in practice, sometimes "participation-washing" can be extractive and disempowering. Other times, a great deal of participation
results in no outcome. How can design of social technologies support not just the elicitation of opinions and dialogue but also the
converging of a group of people towards consensus, solution, or action?
Kelty, Christopher M. "Too much democracy in all the wrong places: toward a grammar of participation." 2017.
Harrington, Christina, Sheena Erete, and Anne Marie Piper. "Deconstructing community-based collaborative design: Towards more equitable participatory design engagements."
Kriplean, Travis, Jonathan Morgan, Deen Freelon, Alan Borning, and Lance Bennett. "Supporting reflective public thought with considerit." 2012.
Salehi, Niloufar, Lilly C. Irani, Michael S. Bernstein, Ali Alkhatib, Eva Ogbe, and Kristy Milland. "We are dynamo: Overcoming stalling and friction in collective action for crowd workers." 2015.
Malone, Thomas W., Jeffrey V. Nickerson, Robert J. Laubacher, Laur Hesse Fisher, Patrick De Boer, Yue Han, and W. Ben Towne. "Putting the pieces back together again: Contest webs for large-scale problem solving." 2017.
Wed, June 2
Final Project Presentations
Project should be wrapping up. Presentation of finished work in class.