ISR Colloquium Speaker

Marc Smith

Community Technologies Group
“Data Mining Social Cyberspaces: Tools for Enhancing Online Communities”
Thursday, May 8, 2003 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Faculty Host: 
CS 432/438 (Computer Science Building, #302)

No cost to attend.


Click here for directions and parking information.


Conversational social cyberspaces are repositories of messages organized into chains of turns and replies. These spaces are among the most popular aspects of online usage. Online conversation spaces like email lists, newsgroups, and web boards, are rich social environments that are increasingly important spaces for civic discourse. Smith will discuss new tools for discovering, evaluating, and motivating the creation of quality online content. These tools are enabled by "social accounting metrics" that measure dimensions of the spaces, authors, and conversations.

Unfortunately, most conversational social cyberspaces suffer from the problem of "too much" and are vulnerable to disruption by a small minority. Sociological studies of these spaces are hampered by the limits of existing tools and interfaces. Social cyberspaces are in their early development and still lack many elements of the infrastructure of physical interaction spaces.

Information about basic social properties of online environments, their size, activity, and composition of their populations, for example, can be constructed with database and data mining tools. The resulting "social accounting metrics" can be used to support accountability by highlighting the future value of identity and reputation. Built on mutual awareness, the resulting institutions may be more resistant to invasion and disruption.

These tools serve the additional function of providing analysts with empirical data that covers a broad scope of social cyberspaces, allowing the formation of maps and measures that can answer basic questions about the dynamics, structure and variation of these novel interaction environments.

About the Speaker: 

Marc Smith is a research sociologist leading the Community Technologies Group at Microsoft Research where he specializes in the social organization of online communities. He is the co-editor of Communities in Cyberspace (Routledge), a collection of essays exploring the ways identity, interaction, and social order develop in online groups.