Wednesday, November 10, 2004

CSCW - Tuesday morning - second session

First up was a study of increasing participation in a social community using Movielens as a source for two studies. The first one focused on generic encouragement. Unexpectedly, emphasing the individual's uniqueness and personal benefit produced a negative effect. One potential issue is that they were mentioning extrinsic benefits and mayber raters had intrinsic benefits for rating movies. The second study focused on goal setting. As expected, specific goals produced better results than "do your best" goals. Surprisingly, those with group goals actually outperformed. There was very wide variability in individual raters. Design implications: embed goals. An interesting question was raised: is undercontribution a bad thing? If everyone rates, are the ratings less valuable? The speaker disagreed.

Next up was a blogging paper from a group at Stanford, which discounted the notion of blogs as diaries, since blogs are intentionally public. They contain social actions - salutations, advice giving, invitations. Group blogs also confound the diary hypothesis. 20% of the bloggers in the study started in response to encouragement by others. Audience affects content, blogs are discussed in other media, and bloggers seek feedback from others: none of these are at all like a diary. The one thing that might be diary-like (although I don't think it was mentioned in that context) is thinking by writing. The interactivity of blogs happens in other channels more often than in blogs or comments. Future research: Blogging as reading and the relationship between readers and writers. While none of this was really new to me, it is nice to have a real study instead of speculation.

The third paper was on flash forums. Key features: diffuse authorship, large size, focused topic, short duration. Analogous to a flash mob. Flash forums are not conversational or deep. Forum reader software stinks. The group developed Discusson Reader software, which has a map that's tied to the discussion. Users valued the map and search features as much as essential features like the scrollbar. Users used the map, moving non-linearly. One goal that wasn't successfully addressed was facilitating the finding of novel content.

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