Technology-Mediated Social Participation:
An Interdisciplinary Lecture Series

Jointly sponsored by

Organized by Ben Shneiderman, Dept of Computer Science, UMIACS & HCIL

Background

The growing impact of social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, wikis, Youtube, Flickr, etc.) is changing the way people work, relate, think, and feel. It has great potential for payoffs for national priorities such as disaster response, health/wellness, community safety, energy sustainability, citizen science, open government, etc., but there are also dangers such as privacy invasion and malicious use by vandals, criminals, terrorists, racial hate groups, and oppressive governments. Ensuring universal usability/access, scalability, and reliability during peak usage are also challenges that require interdisciplinary research.

This lecture series is meant to build awareness and stimulate collaborations across UMCP sponsoring units and beyond, in the hope of establishing UMCP as a national leader for this emerging topic. The lectures will be presented by selected working groups, but there are many more active researchers within these five units and elsewhere on campus (see partial list below). If interest is strong, further lectures can be added later in the semester.

Two NSF-funded workshops on Technology-Mediated Social Participation were run by UM faculty, which led to seven articles in a cover featured issue of IEEE Computer (November 2010). TMSP was also described in a short article in the Computing Research Assn January 2011 Newsletter

For an introduction to these topics, see the hour-long video and slides of Jennifer Preece and Ben Shneiderman speaking at the New America Foundation, with White House and Google respondents: Technology, Social Innovation, and Civic Participation: What's the Next Step?

Schedule

Monday, February 14, 2011, 4pm, AVW 2460
Nation of Neighbors: Design and Network Evolution for Internet Community Safety Systems

Ben Shneiderman (CS), Alan Neustadtl (SOCY), Catherine Plaisant (UMIACS, HCIL), Jae-wook Ahn (CS, HCIL), PJ Rey (SOCY grad student), Nick Violi (CS grad student)
(Supported by NSF Social Computational Systems grant)
Slides

Monday, February 21, 2011, 4pm, SOCY 1101
Theorizing Web 2.0: The Role of Prosumers

George Ritzer (SOCY), PJ Rey, Nathan Jurgenson (SOCY grad students), Zeynep Tufekci (UMBC, SOCY)

Monday, March 7, 2011, 4pm, HBK 2119
Encyclopedia of Life: Motivating Public Enthusiasts and Expert Scientists to Document the World�s Species

Jennifer Preece, Derek Hansen (iSchool & HCIL), David Jacobs (CS & UMIACS), Cynthia Parr, Jen Hammock (Smithsonian) Dana Rotman, Darcy Lewis, Anne Bowser, Erin Stewart (iSchool grad students), Arijit Biswas (CS grad student), Eric Stevens (CS undergrad) (Supported by NSF Social Computational Systems and Sloan Foundations grant)
Slides

Monday, March 14, 2011, 4pm, AVW 2460
Probabilistic Soft Logic: A Data-driven Toolkit for Analyzing, Utilizing, and Decision Making using Social Information

Lise Getoor (CS & UMIACS), Matthias Broecheler (CS Grad), Steve Bach (CS Grad), Stanley Kok (CS Postdoc), Lily Mihalkova (CS Postdoc)

Social Network Optimization Problems

V.S. Subrahmanian (CS & UMIACS)

Building the B(r)and: The Use of Social Media to Monitor and Manage Conversations

Louiqa Raschid, Yogesh Joshi, and Bill Rand (UMIACS & BMGT)
Slides

Refreshments will be provided by each host unit.

Related Events and Activities

March 29-31, 2011: UMCP Inn and Conference Center
International Conference on Social Computing, Behavior/Cultural Modeling, and Prediction

Dana Nau (CS, co-chair)

April 9, 2011
Theorizing the Web conference

co-chaired by SOCY grad students Nathan Jurgenson and PJ Rey, supervised by Prof. George Ritzer.
Keynote: danah boyd (Microsoft Research, Cambridge, MA and Harvard Berkman Center on Internet and Society)

campus units with related research topics

  • College of Business
  • School of Public Health
  • School of Public Policy
  • College of Journalism
  • Dept of Physics
  • Dept of Linguistics
  • Dept of Communications
  • Institute for Advanced Computer Studies
  • College of Information Studies

UMIACS has at least three units with related interests:

iSchool has at least two units with related interests:

Abstracts

Monday, February 14, 2011, 4pm, AVW 2460
Nation of Neighbors: Design and Network Evolution for Internet Community Safety Systems

Ben Shneiderman (CS), Alan Neustadtl (SOCY), Catherine Plaisant (UMIACS, HCIL), Jae-wook Ahn (CS, HCIL), PJ Rey (SOCY grad student), Nick Violi (CS grad student)
Slides

Pioneering community safety projects suggest that more active resident participation can be facilitated by novel websites, social media tools, and mobile devices. At the same time there is resistance to participation, dangers of privacy violations, and threats from rumors, vandalism, or disruptive practices. This project work closely with the leadership of the Nation of Neighbors to analyze their practices and history, develop better analytic tools for community managers (e.g. ManyNets, NodeXL, TempoVis), and study design strategies for increasing motivation to participate.
Supported by NSF Social Computational Systems grant)

Monday, February 21, 2011, 4pm, SOCY 1101
Theorizing Web 2.0: The Role of Prosumers

George Ritzer (SOCY), PJ Rey, Nathan Jurgenson (SOCY grad students), Zeynep Tufekci (UMBC, SOCY)

There is a widely shared perception that a social change of monumental importance is currently underway. That change involves a variety of at least partially overlapping and loosely interrelated phenomena including the arrival and expansion of the Internet, especially Web 2.0 and its user-generated sites (blogs, Facebook, etc.). Many analyses of these phenomena have been largely, if not totally, atheoretical. The goal here is to examine these changes from the broadest possible theoretical perspectives- modern and postmodern theory. We will first argue that because most previous analyses of these changes have relied on modern tools and approaches, they have greatly exaggerated the magnitude of the changes underway. Second, when these phenomena are looked at through the lens of at least some aspects of postmodern theory, it can be argued that the change that has occurred is of a much smaller magnitude; it is more a quantitative than a qualitative change.
Prosumer Studies Working Group

Monday, March 7, 2011, 4pm, HBK 2119
Encyclopedia of Life: Motivating Public Enthusiasts and Expert Scientists to Document the World�s Species

Jennifer Preece, Derek Hansen (iSchool & HCIL), David Jacobs (CS & UMIACS), Cynthia Parr, Jen Hammock (Smithsonian) Dana Rotman, Darcy Lewis, Anne Bowser, Erin Stewart (iSchool grad students), Arijit Biswas (CS grad student), Eric Stevens (CS undergrad)
Slides

The Encyclopedia of Life is a Smithsonian Institution, Natural History Museum project funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The goal of EOL is to develop a page describing each of the estimated 2 million living organisms in the world. The Biotracker Project, funded by the National Science Foundation, is working with EOL to research and develop technologies and methods to address these questions: How can a socially intelligent system be used to direct human effort and expertise to the most valuable collection and classification tasks? What are the most effective strategies for motivating enthusiasts and experts to voluntarily contribute and collaborate? Members of the Biotracker project will discuss early stages of their work on machine vision techniques, game development, social network analysis, surveys and interviews to get a deep understanding of how public enthusiasts and expert scientists can be encouraged to work together to submit and curate entries in EOL.
Supported by NSF Social Computational Systems and Sloan Foundations grant

Monday, March 14, 2011, 4pm, AVW 2460
Probabilistic Soft Logic: A Data-driven Toolkit for Analyzing, Utilizing, and Decision Making using Social Information

Lise Getoor (CS & UMIACS), Matthias Broecheler (CS Grad), Steve Bach (CS Grad), Stanley Kok (CS Postdoc), Lily Mihalkova (CS Postdoc)

Probabilistic Soft Logic (PSL) is a new toolkit that we are developing that is well-suited for analyzing social media and socio-relational data. It supports mining and making predictions based on noisy and incomplete observational data, it is designed to handle rich data sources which have both relational data and attribute data, and it is scalable in order to overcome the computational challenges which often arise in social information processing. In this talk, I will overview applications of PSL to problems in information diffusion, personalized medicine, and social media analysis.
Joint work with : Matthias Broecheler, Stephen Bach, Stanley Kok and Lily Mihalkova, CS Department.

Social Network Optimization Problems

V.S. Subrahmanian (CS & UMIACS)

There are many applications where we have a social network, a diffusion model for some phenomenon in the network, and a finite set of resources that we can apply to vertices in the network to maximize a desired objective. We call such problems Social Network Optimization Problems (SNOPs). This talk describes interesting instances of SNOPs and briefly describes results.
Joint work with M. Broecheler and P. Shakarian.

Building the B(r)and: The Use of Social Media to Monitor and Manage Conversations

Louiqa Raschid, Yogesh Joshi, and Bill Rand (UMIACS & BMGT)
Slides

Understanding how information and influence diffuses at a micro-level can help individuals who want to engage an audience through social media. Using computational modeling approaches to study the promotion of new musical bands, this talk looks at how this diffusion occurs through blogs, micro-blogs, social tagging networks, etc. We will explore how a brand manager (for a band) can monitor and manage a conversation and how individuals can use this new media to enter into conversations with like-minded individuals. We will end by discussing the broader implications of this analysis for civic engagement and community building activities.



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