11 June 2008

ICCMSN 2008 day 1

An interesting, albeit long day at the international conference of computer mediated social networking. An unexpected extra panel session was arranged and started at 5.15pm when many of us had expected to be finishing up. It was a showcase session of the University of Otago's foray into podcasting, but especially their presence in iTunes U. The expected return on investment was described in terms of prestige (the only nz uni appearing with the likes of Yale and Harvard) and marketing to prospective students (they get to see what UoO is like when shopping around for an institution. Last mentioned was the actual usefulness of the content. There is no expectation that students will drop attendance at early morning lectures, just because the lecture is available online. Although it is so dark here, even at 7:30am I wouldn't blame them. The podcasting of lectures coincided with the need to expand a lecture into more than one room due to very large number of enrolment in a subject. It seems students prefer to be in the room where the lecture is being simulcast to, rather than where the lecturere is because they get a much better view of the lecturers and their expressions, actions and objects they may be showcasing on a large screen.

The day kicked off with a keynote by Martin Purvis on the emergence of complex and dynamic organisational structures enabled by the growth of social media in the online environment. Martin compared the objectivist and interactivist views. A few dot points covered:
  • people are not looking for facts, they want to know how to do something
  • Semantic web will never be built because humans will not bother to encode all the pages with everything required to create such a web.
    But people like to interact.
  • semantic web will be useful but only in certain parts of human knowledge
  • People have a fundamental urge to share (eg. hence the open source movement)
  • wikipedia is the modern interactionist view of Intellectual property - no concept of ownershiip of an article. It is easier to delete vandalism than it is to create it.
  • Social Networking is the process not the documents or content produced by it

Other presentations today were on social networking and creativity, new functionality proposed for social bookmarking services to provide awareness information about other users by presenting data on who's browsing whose bookmarks. This project developed additional functionality built onto Connotea's base code.

Michael and I also presented today on the use of social media at Bond University, One paper, presented by John Downes, explored the feasibility of using commercial digital photo frames as message boards in domestic situations. Household members and friends could send a message to the board rather than to specific people. The kinds of messages used as examples were pragmatic examples focusing on logistics of households - someone needs picking up from station, instructions to get the oven turned on, someone running late.

Arwenna Stardust (AKA Clare Atkins) showed us her 'holiday snaps' from Second Life, Malcolm Shore's discussion of SL led to some interesting comments about broadband access in New Zealand and there are more SL presentations lined up for tomorrow.

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