After CSCW 2010

Now I’ve recovered from my jetlag and the Southern fried food withdrawal, it’s high time for a report on the ‘2010 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work’ in Savannah. This was my first CSCW and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it, excellent talks and nice to meet up with quite some CHI’ers again as well.

Personal highlights:

-That’s what happens if you leave academics unsupervised at a ‘Fun at the workplace’ workshop – the main reason I was at CSCW this year.  Helena and I hauled in some props from Stockholm and had the players vs. haters battle it out: can we actually design for fun at the workplace? Marleigh Norton (MIT GAMBIT) wrote a more extended over blog post about our day and the caveats of trying to be academic about fun. The workshop itself lives on as the ‘Fun seriously?!’ blog .

-I really liked Clay Shirky‘s keynote on Work vs. work. Insightful points on motivation and the differences between doing Work that you’re paid for and work you happily volunteer to do (e.g. user-generated content from Wikipedia articles to fan fiction). Shirky showed that simply trying to reimplement and enforce ‘big W’ structures and incentives on ‘small w’ work can be detrimental to the intrinsic motivation of volunteers. We need to design for motivation, not just task completion.

-Twitter studies! Are people tweeting about themselves or about..what really? Mor Naaman’s (@informor) group presented their heavily retweeted Meformers vs. Informers study, showing that for most twitterers ‘it’s all about them’ (and for the record: I really don’t think that’s a bad thing. What’s being labelled as ‘mindless, egocentric babble’ by some blogs can actually serve valuable social functions). Identifying event trends by analysing millions of tweets can’t be wrong either; nice massive dataset tweet analysis by @ayman (David Ayman Shamma) on the #kanye MTV awards debacle and the US presidential debate.

-Ethics panel. ‘Social awareness stream’ research also leads to ethical questions on for example informed consent and studying individuals’ tweets. The research community really has no standards yet on what is acceptable and what is not. Especially considering the very American perspective of most researchers in this community contrasted with the highly international content we’re analysing, we need to figure this out –  there is no universal norm on what ‘acceptable’ entails.

-Daniela Petrelli talked about Sonic Souvenirs. A number of families were asked to record sound instead of making photos on their holidays. Very interesting how the increased ambiguity of such sound memories stimulated creativity and social interpretation by the families afterward. Looking forward to seeing the follow-up at CHI on what to do with the recordings.

The full CSCW’10 proceedings can be found here – get ‘m while they’re free!


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