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Proceedings of the 2003 International Conference on Communities and Technologies

Fullname:C&T 2003: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Communities and Technologies
Editors:Marleen Huysman; Etienne Wenger; Volker Wulf
Location:Munich, Germany
Dates:2003
Publisher:Springer
Standard No:DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-0115-0; hcibib: CT03; ISBN: 978-90-481-6418-9 (print), 978-94-017-0115-0 (online)
Papers:24
Pages:500
Links:Online Proceedings | Online Proceedings | Book Information | Online Proceedings
How Practice Matters: A Relational View of Knowledge Sharing BIBAPDF 1-22
  C. Østerlund; P. Carlile
This paper addresses the issue of knowledge sharing practices in complex organizations. The authors propose that a refined understanding of the relational thinking underpinning practice theories is required if we want to further our comprehension of knowledge sharing and distinguish existing approaches. Knowledge sharing, we argue, is defined by the specific differences and dependencies in practices existing within or across communities. Changes in those differences and dependencies leads to the formation of new knowledge. Specifying the differences, dependencies and changes provides the first analytical step in understanding knowledge sharing as it takes shape in and across communities of practice. The authors apply this relational perspective to probe the discrepancies and complementarities among three seminal approaches to knowing within and across communities of practice.
Structural Analysis of Communities of Practice: An Investigation of Job Title, Location and Management Intention BIBAPDF 23-42
  J. T. Allatta
The community of practice phenomenon has been extensively studied in qualitative terms, but there has been relatively little research using quantitative techniques. This study uses the common social network measures of connectedness, density, graph theoretic distance, and core / periphery fit to examine how groups defined by different characteristics align with community of practice theory. Specifically, it investigates the roles of job title, location, and management intention relative to the structural characteristics of communities of practice. Workers were assigned to groups based upon their job title, job group, division, location, and emergent behavior (results of hierarchical clustering). Initial results suggest that grouping employees by their emergent behavior yields network measures that are most closely related to community of practice theory.
Episteme or practice? Differentiated Communitarian Structures in a Biology Laboratory BIBAPDF 43-63
  F. Créplet; O. Dupouët; E. Vaast
This paper explores the different social structures coexisting within a biology laboratory. This work draws upon an empirical study and the results are analysed using the social network analysis toolbox. We evidence that actors form links between them in order to carry out cognitive activities. Depending on the content of this activity, resulting networks can take different shapes. When dealing with scientific knowledge, actors tend to form an epistemic community, whereas they form a community of practice when they seek to enhance their skills in setting experiments. Moreover, these two structures are connected by means of boundary objects and boundary spanners.
We Can See You: A Study of Communities' Invisible People through ReachOut BIBAPDF 65-79
  V. Soroka; M. Jacovi; S. Ur
Virtual communities are a great tool, both at home and in the workplace. They help in finding new friends and solving complicated problems by creating a virtual family or a giant group-mind. However, building a virtual community is not a trivial task. Many problems need to be addressed for a new community to be successful. While many of these problems are features of the medium, participants themselves are still the major part of the equation. Understanding the behavioral patterns of virtual community members is crucial for attracting participants and facilitating active participation. In this paper, we describe our findings from analyzing more than a year of activities of a workplace community. Our community used ReachOut, a tool developed in our group to support semi-persistent collaboration and community building. Throughout the year, all users' activities were logged, providing us with very detailed information. Not only do we know of people's postings to the community, but we can also track lurking behavior that is usually hidden. This allows us to check several hypotheses about non-active participants' behavior and propose some directions to increase active participation in virtual communities.
Email as Spectroscopy: Automated Discovery of Community Structure within Organizations BIBAPDF 81-96
  J. R. Tyler; D. M. Wilkinson; B. A. Huberman
We describe a method for the automatic identification of communities of practice from email logs within an organization. We use a betweenness centrality algorithm that can rapidly find communities within a graph representing information flows. We apply this algorithm to an email corpus of nearly one million messages collected over a two-month span, and show that the method is effective at identifying true communities, both formal and informal, within these scale-free graphs. This approach also enables the identification of leadership roles within the communities. These studies are complemented by a qualitative evaluation of the results in the field.
Multimedia Fliers: Information Sharing With Digital Community Bulletin Boards BIBAPDF 97-117
  E. F. Churchill; L. Nelson; L. Denoue
Community poster boards serve an important community building function. Posted fliers advertise services, events and people's interests, and invite community members to communicate, participate, interact and transact. In this paper we describe the design, development and deployment of several large screen, digital community poster boards, the Plasma Posters, within our organization. We present our motivation, two fieldwork studies of online and offline information sharing, and design guidelines derived from our observations. After introducing the Plasma Posters and the underlying information storage and distribution infrastructure, we illustrate their use and value within our organization, summarizing findings from qualitative and quantitative evaluations. We conclude by elaborating socio-technical challenges we have faced in our design and deployment process.
Knowledge Sharing in Knowledge Communities BIBAPDF 119-141
  B. van den Hooff; W. Elving; J. M. Meeuwsen; C. Dumoulin
This paper investigates the contribution of ICT to knowledge sharing in communities of practice. A theoretical model is built that identifies the possible influence of ICT on the extent to which knowledge is shared within a community, as well as a number of variables that determine the extent to which this contribution is realized. This theoretical model was tested within two ICT-facilitated communities for professionals in the area of working conditions. The results of these case studies show that ICT's most important contribution to knowledge sharing in communities consists of the realization of a shared information base (communality) and facilitating communication independent of time and place (connectivity). The results also show that trust among members of a community, and their identification with the community, are important influences on knowledge sharing. Task interdependence and the community's information culture are also identified as important influences.
Uses of information sources in an Internet-era firm: Online and offline BIBAPDF 143-162
  A. Quan-Haase; J. Cothrel
Most research on the role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the workplace has focused on companies that adopted ICT after many years of working without it. However, companies that have been "always connected" may offer different lessons. In this study, we look at how workers at an Internet-era company obtain information they need to do their jobs. We look at both human and documentary sources of information; whether those sources are accessed online or offline; and the impact of type of information source and access on individual performance. Results parallel past research with two significant differences: 1) workers accessed human sources via online channels more frequently than via offline channels, and 2) higher individual performance was associated with online access to human sources rather than offline access to human sources. The findings have implications for theories of knowledge management and uses and effects of technology in organizations.
Communities and other Social Structures for Knowledge Sharing -- A Case Study in an Internet Consultancy Company BIBAPDF 163-183
  I. Ruuska; M. Vartiainen
This research aims at understanding how people share knowledge in their everyday work in a project-based company. The social structures for knowledge sharing are characterised as formal, informal, and quasi-informal structures. They vary from those with high formalisation to the informal, and even include structures which are invisible and unrecognised in the organisation. They also vary in their composition. They may share the same or different space, and communication is based on face-to-face or virtual interaction. Data was collected by means of documents and interviews (n=18) during the autumn of 2002 and the winter of 2003 from an Internet consultancy company. The study shows the great variety of formal, informal, and quasi-informal social structures that are used for knowledge sharing in the case company. In all, sixteen different structures were found. The number of formal structures is smaller than the number of informal ones. Their analysis in terms of five dimensions also shows their great heterogeneity.
Intranets and Local Community: 'Yes, an intranet is all very well, but do we still get free beer and a barbeque? BIBAPDF 185-204
  M. Arnold; M. R. Gibbs; P. Wright
This paper arises from a three year research project examining the development and implementation of a residential community intranet in Melbourne, Australia. At the time of writing, the level of use of the intranet by residents is low, and the paper explores possible reasons why this may be the case. These reasons include: a) the possibility that the aggregation of potential users and content is not appropriate; b) the possibility that the technology is not appropriate; c) the possibility that the conception of community relations on which the intranet is premised is not appropriate; d) the possibility that residents' perception of efforts to engineer community relations is not appropriate; and e) the possibility that the identity of the intranet as a domestic artefact has not yet been recognised by the residents. A consideration of these five possibilities using the specific case study raises issues concerning both particular community intranets, and more general socio-technical relations.
Learning and Collaboration across Generations in a Community BIBAPDF 205-225
  M. B. Rosson; J. M. Carroll
We report on the activities and outcomes of two workshops in which middle school students and senior citizens explored, designed, and constructed visual simulations related to community issues. The workshops are part of a larger project, in which we are studying the effects of community-related programming projects and discussion on residents' computer literacy and community involvement. We describe the interactions among participants of varying age, and the simulations that they designed and built. We also discuss the influence of age on participants' reactions to the workshop activities, and consider what implications these findings have for our goal of building and maintaining a cross-generation learning community.
The African Dream -- a Pan-African E-community Project BIBAPDF 227-240
  D. Biggs; C. Purnell
The African Dream Project seeks to develop community-based tourism by creating a technology-based solution to global marketing. They have chosen to do this by developing tourism routes across Africa, uniting them under the umbrella concept of Afrikatourism. This paper reports on a study done in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces of South Africa to determine the communication and coordination practices of tourism routes that form part of a Pan-African e-community under the auspices of the African Dream Project. The study seeks to devise a model for maintaining cohesion of the routes through effective and efficient ICT and non-ICT practices. It is part of a 2-year study funded by the IDRC to determine the potential impact of ICT on the development of microenterprise in the tourism industry, entitled the SOMDITTI Phase 2 project.
The Role of Social Capital in Regional Technological Innovation: Seeing both the wood and the trees BIBAPDF 241-264
  L. Tamaschke
This paper both attempts to identify the key conceptual and methodological principles that can be extracted from the very complex literatures on social capital and innovation, and to draw out the interactions between these concepts. The paper argues that the social capital literature has been hijacked at one end by those solely taken by precise definitions and measurement, and at the other end by those that proclaim social capital to be the blanket solution, and the missing link. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in the too miniature details then we risk losing important insights from a fascinating concept. At the other end, broad-sweeping claims about social capital risk devastating policy prescriptions. The paper attempts to show that yes social capital does exist, and yes it is important for regional technological innovation. However, social capital can also be a hindrance for regional technological innovation, and cannot replace other important regional development resources.
Weak Ties in Networked Communities BIBAPDF 265-286
  A. Kavanaugh; D. D. Reese; J. M. Carroll; M. B. Rosson
Communities with high levels of social capital are likely to have a higher quality of life than communities with low social capital (Coleman, 1988, 1990; Putnam, 1993, 2000). This is due to the greater ability of such communities to organize and mobilize effectively for collective action because they have high levels of social trust, social networks, and well-established norms of mutuality (the major features of social capital). Communities with 'bridging' social capital (weak ties across groups) as well as 'bonding' social capital (strong ties within groups) are the most effective in organizing for collective action (Granovetter, 1973; Putnam, 2000). People who belong to multiple groups act as bridging ties Simmel [1908] 1950; Wellman, 1988). When people with bridging ties use communication media, such as the Internet, they enhance their capability to educate community members, and organize, as needed, for collective action. This paper summarizes evidence from stratified household survey data in Blacksburg, Virginia showing that people with weak (bridging) ties across groups have higher levels of community involvement, civic interest and collective efficacy than people without bridging ties to groups. Moreover, heavy Internet users with bridging ties have higher social engagement, use the Internet for social purposes, and have been attending more local meetings and events since going online than heavy Internet users with no bridging ties. These findings may suggest that the Internet -- in the hands of bridging individuals -- is a tool for maintaining social relations, information exchange, and increasing face-to-face interaction, all of which help to build both bonding and bridging social capital in communities.
A Bayesian Computational Model of Social Capital in Virtual Communities BIBAPDF 287-305
  B. Kei Daniel; J.-D. Zapata-Rivera; G. McCalla
The theory of social capital (SC) is frequently discussed in the social sciences and the humanities. There is a plethora of research studies, which seek to define and empirically test the idea of SC in a number of ways. This growing body of research has only supported the significance of (SC) in physical communities. While many attempts have been made to examine different forms of social capital in physical communities, its application to other types of communities remains open to research. Recent interest in computer science and information systems in studying virtual communities (VCs) and the value these communities provide to information exchange and knowledge construction makes examination of SC in these communities relevant. We begin our understanding of SC in VCs by mapping out different variables that constitute SC based on qualitative experts' knowledge of SC. We then develop an initial computational model of SC, and generate conditional probability tables (CPTs) that can be refined using real world case scenarios developed by experts in virtual communities. The Bayesian model seems to represent the situations mentioned in the paper adequately. This model provides a useful tool for understanding of SC in VCs.
I-DIAG: From Community Discussion to Knowledge Distillation BIBAPDF 307-325
  M. S. Ackerman; A. Swenson; S. Cotterill; K. DeMaagd
I-DIAG is an attempt to understand how to take the collective discussions of a large group of people and distill the messages and documents into more succinct, durable knowledge. I-DIAG is a distributed environment that includes two separate applications, CyberForum and Consolidate. The goals of the project, the architecture of IDIAG, and the two applications are described. We focus on technical mechanisms to augment social maintenance and social regulation in the system.
The Role of Knowledge Artifacts in Innovation Management: The Case of a Chemical Compound Designer CoP BIBAPDF 327-345
  S. Bandini; E. Colombo; G. Colombo; F. Sartori; C. Simone
The paper describes how the experience we gained in the interaction with a community of professionals, the Compound Designer CoP (involved in tire production), led to the identification of the role Knowledge Artifacts can play in the definition of computational supports of innovation management in the specific domain of chemical formulation for rubber compounds. The paper reports on an experience gained in a project we are involved in and on the technology that has been designed to support knowledge and innovation management in the involved company.
Supporting an Experiment of a Community Support System: Community Analysis and Maintenance Functions in the Public Opinion Channel BIBAPDF 347-367
  T. Fukuhara; M. Chikama; T. Nishida
Community analysis and maintenance functions of a community support system called Public Opinion Channel (POC) are described. A field-test and a psychological experiment using a community support system are important for investigating activities in a community. Existing community support systems, however, have limitations on having an experiment smoothly because few systems consider functions for supporting an experiment. To investigate activities in a community smoothly, community support systems should have community analysis and maintenance functions that support an analyst and a community organizer in an experiment. We implemented those functions in the POC system, and used in a field-test and a social psychological experiment. From these experiments, we found that proposed functions enabled an analyst and a community organizer to (1) find up-to-date state of a community during an experiment, (2) analyze relations between messages efficiently and objectively, and (3) maintain communities easily. Requirements for the functions, implementation, and experience in the experiments are described.
Patients' Online Communities Experiences of Emergent Swedish Self-help on the Internet BIBAPDF 369-389
  U. Josefsson
This paper identifies and analyses characteristics of Patients' Online Communities (POC) in Sweden. The purpose of the paper is to increase our understanding of how individuals design online social support and how this can inform design in a wider perspective. The study presents a fine-grained picture of POC covering both the contextual structures and the community culture. Two important driving forces of POC (to get informed and to interact with others in similar situation) are identified. These serve as a basis for the introductory discussion provided on how the experiences from POC can serve as implications for the emergent design of Internet based communication between patients and health care providers.
When Users Push Back: Oppositional New Media and Community BIBAPDF 391-405
  L. A. Lievrouw
The progressive privatization of Internet infrastructure in the U.S. throughout the 1990s fostered the resurgence of a mass media-style "pipeline" model of online content distribution favored by the media and entertainment industries. Nonetheless, and despite various attempts at suppression by corporations and law enforcement, a diverse community of artists, activists and citizens has found the Web and related technologies to be effective media for expressing their ideas and interests. In this paper oppositional new media are examined as a means of response and resistance to a popular culture that many groups regard as dominated by consumerism, political apathy and cultural and economic oppression. Cases are presented to illustrate key genres of oppositional new media, including the responses of mainstream corporate, government and law-enforcement authorities. The paper concludes with an overview of characteristics of oppositional new media and their implications for establishing and maintaining community.
Babel in the international café: A respectful critique BIBAPDF 407-425
  B. Trayner
This paper reflects on the case of participants with different first languages conversing in "The International Café in an online workshop about Communities of Practice. It describes the context of the café within the workshop and an informal translation experiment designed to bring together community members with different first languages. In the light of this experiment the paper critically reflects on the effectiveness of translation for negotiating meaning in international community conversations. It discusses the value of cultivating global literacies where language is considered not as a technical issue requiring translation equivalence, but as something that shapes individual and collective worldviews, where the fine-tuning and exploration of situated meanings of people with different first languages is viewed as integral to the process of interacting, learning and sharing knowledge in an international community. The reflections highlight a connected issue of time: for participating in, facilitating and designing for such conversations. Finally, international conversations in the café are contextualised as part of a broader issue of clarifying the purpose and principles behind cultivating a truly international online community workshop. Four key issues arising from this reflective critique are tentatively offered as inter-connected design factors for international online community environments.
Synchronizing Asynchronous Collaborative Learners BIBAPDF 427-443
  J. Lundin
This paper addresses the issue of different levels of progress in asynchronous collaborative learning activities. The context for this research is organizations of distributed and mobile practitioners. When introducing collaborative learning parallel to daily work tasks we cannot assume that all participants have the same possibility to actively engage. Therefore the learners can be at different levels of progress in the collaborative learning activity. To facilitate collaborative activity the progress of the participants has to be synchronized in some way. The main problem addressed in this paper is the difficulty for participants to keep a common progress, to enable discussions, in asynchronous collaborative learning. To address this problem three methods for synchronization (synchronization points) are suggested: locked scenes, written instruction and collaborative production. The three methods were implemented and evaluated in an organization using a Net-scenario, the Net-scenario as a system and a methodology based on role-playing to initiate collaborative learning. This system was suitable to use in the evaluation since it can be used asynchronously as well as synchronously, supports distributed participants and is dependent on collaborative discussion concerning the content presented.
Community Support in Universities -- The Drehscheibe Project BIBAPDF 445-463
  M. Koch
Community support systems (community platforms) that are providing a rich communication medium for work or interest groups are gaining more and more attention in application areas ranging from leisure support and customer support to knowledge management. One of these application areas is the support of teaching and research activities in universities. In this article we present a community support system we have been developing and using for seven years in different university departments. In contrast to other work on community support for universities the system does not focus on lecture support or on knowledge management alone, but provides a generic communication and matchmaking medium. We will present the basic functionality of the system and elaborate into some observations we have made in the usage period.
Adding Connectivity and Loosing Context with ICT: Contrasting learning situations from a community of practice perspective BIBAPDF 465-484
  P. Arnold; J. D. Smith
The promise of information and communication technologies is that it increases connectivity. By providing a spectrum of technologies such as email, web conferencing, telephones, and chat, ICTs bring people who are geographically dispersed together in community. Such communities can provide a new context for learning; at the same time, the social, physical, and technical context of the community's members risks getting lost through computer-mediated communication. Design for online communities, especially design for learning in online environments, tries to find ways of re-inviting participants' contexts, as context has a great bearing on learning, in fact is inextricably linked to learning. In this paper we investigate the complex relationship of context, technologies and community design issues. We present three case studies of online learning communities and analyze the interplay of context and technology for each situation, using a community of practice perspective. Each case balances the demands of time, the need for context, and the demands of practice in a unique way. The insights gained can inform both educational design and design of community technologies.