Defining Participation in Technological Groups

Winter 2005

Kevin Almeroth (CompSci595N) & Bruce Bimber (PolSci595N) & Alan Liu (Engl593)
Lisa Parks & Jennifer Earl


Technology is increasingly playing a larger role in society. From clearly beneficial uses to more questionable uses, little attention has been paid to how technology impacts society. Furthermore, technology has the potential to greatly influence what "society" even is and subsequently, how we participate in it. The focus of this seminar is on taking a closer look at what new societal groups are being created as a result of technology and how technology has an impact. The kinds of groups at the forefront of this evolution run the complete spectrum and include: chat rooms, virtual worlds, multi-user games, volunteer organizations, education, and job-related environments. Given these groups, the focus becomes on how technology affects group organization, how members interact, and what effect technology has the resulting impact. And finally, what might be an interesting set of questions worth pursuing?

The goal of this seminar is to bring together an inter-disciplinary group of faculty and graduate students to establish a framework for discussing this topic; build a collection of cross-discipline knowledge and related work; and start to define the new roles that have evolved as a result of pervasive technology.

The format for this seminar is a combination of free-form discussion and presentations of relevant papers by graduate students. Depending on how many enroll, students should be expected to identify relevant research from their discipline and give a 30-60 minute presentation during one of the classes. Furthermore, an expected outcome is to find a subset of students who are interested in continuing work in this area and formalizing the concepts discussed during the quarter into a paper.

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