From Commenting in Networked Forums to Designing for Interaction….

Hi everyone,

So last Thursday we had a discussion of the readings that Magnus provided for us (see Oct 19th).  He chose these readings to accompany a presentation of his current research work on the issue of commenting in networked/online forums.  I found these readings to be very helpful in thinking about the kinds of dynamics to consider when thinking about how a networked platform invites community formation through commentary.  My notes (shared with all of you in class and on the class website) on Magnus’ two readings outline some of the main arguments offered by Reagle Jr. & Suler.  As I mentioned  in class, you are invited to expand on those ideas by collaborating in this open “notes” document.

Magnus’ walked us through the history of his project describing his methodology as an iterative process in which he has fine tuned his own taxonomy of commenting.  The process he sketched out reveals his considerable commitment (excellent!) with the efficacy of his methodology, and the intention to tighten up the reliability of the data collected.  The question that I think emerged for me overall is why is this study important?  Why do we need to think about the patterns and nuances that emerge in different commentary forums online?  What might these different commenting behaviors reveal for us when we think about community formation in the 21st century?  What do the commenting trends teach us about the nature of digitized notions of community?  What do these commenting trends teach us about the formation/development of human community in the digital age?  I think these questions are key to making this research matter in a significant way.

I think some important organizational concerns have emerged for me at this stage in our seminar proceedings.  In short, I think you all need to consider your preparation for this “discussion lead” with more nuance.  In our course syllabus I included the following description of what it means to take the helm as the discussion leader during this phase of our seminar (see course syllabus):

One of you will take the lead with specific readings and content of your choice.  In other words, you will be the discussion leader for a class period.  For your presentations, you will lead our class consideration of the assigned readings and organize our time together productively.  … 

***As our class leader, you should develop your own “lesson plan” or protocol for how we will engage with the text(s) and the ideas as a learning community.  You are welcome to -present the material, -distribute new supplementary material for us, -give us some guiding questions or prompts/ideas we can respond to and work with, -lead us in certain pedagogical exercises that will open up our understanding of the ideas for that week.  Be creative with the readings!  Think about new ways to work with colleagues to share this material and engender meaningful discussion.

In moving forward, I really hope that you will all take the time to prepare a thorough presentation of what you are working on, and why you chose the readings you selected for us to consider in light of your work.  You should plan a discussion about your own research thus far, sharing your questions and concerns about your own process.  I think it is useful to develop a few formal questions to prompt the seminar group with, as you think through your work more purposefully.  In short, this “discussion lead” protocol is your designated time to connect your research intentions with your own reflections regarding life in the networked digital age.  By preparing your presentation thoroughly, you will move your work along significantly.

So…..Anders is up next.  He will present to us a map of his ideas about his “Trolls of Norway” project – an online networked experience he is designing for eventual scale up in a public sector/open context.  He will link a walkthrough and explanation of his project map with a reading from “Evil by Design: Interaction Design Leads us Into Temptation” by Chis Nodder.  Please read the chapter entitled “Envy” (137-168) and like each week, blog a reflection of the reading. You can blog about your thoughts on online/networked interaction design.  For most of you, I think this text will be of real interest in your work moving forward.

Looking forward to our next seminar session!


Dr. Zamora