conferences/workshops, random musings  Comments Off on Keynote
Jul 032012

This year I had the great honor of giving one of the keynote talks at the ICWSM conference, a conference I had been attending and enjoying for years. I ended up delivering the keynote on 4 hours of sleep, despite 10 months lead time to prep the talk. I don’t know how to explain it, except:

Lada channeling James Franco in photo op.Lada channeling James Franco in photo op.

Which is how a squinty photo of me (along with perfectly well-rested looking John Breslin, Igor Perisic, and Jimi Shanahan) ended up in the Irish Times.

Lada channeling James Franco in photo op.

I’d like to think I was just channeling James Franco, who always looks a bit squinty, because he is too awesomely busy to get any sleep.

Second Life study in the press and to be presented at EC

 conferences/workshops, NetSI, papers  Comments Off on Second Life study in the press and to be presented at EC
Jul 082009

Eytan will be presenting our work on Social Influence and the Diffusion of User-Created Content in Second Life this Friday. In the meantime, the study has been getting a bit of geeky press :).

studying society in a digital world conference

 conferences/workshops  Comments Off on studying society in a digital world conference
Mar 302009

At the end of this month I’m going to be skipping out on WWW (bummer) to attend a conference on studying society in a digital world (yay). It seems a bit cruel to mention it here, because attendance appears to be limited to Princeton affiliated folk, but there it is, I couldn’t resist hanging out with the usual suspects.
And then as I read the schedule, I started recognizing the papers (oh, there’s Jure’s, and Lars’ and Sean’s — thinking of the younger generation who had presented the papers (or are about the present them) at various conferences). So it’s a bit of an old-folks meeting really, where they still let us talk without student supervision :). Can’t wait!

Kevin to present Naver paper at CHI next week

 conferences/workshops  Comments Off on Kevin to present Naver paper at CHI next week
Mar 302009

Kevin Nam, a student of Mark Ackerman, is going to talk about the Naver KnowledgeiN online Q&A forum. Unlike previous studies of Q&A forums (of which, ahem, we’ve generated a few) in this instance, Kevin actually got the most active users on the phone and asked them the questions we had been burning to ask, e.g. ‘Do you have a life?’ (OK, not that one), but rather “How do you select the questions you answer?”,”Why do you answer [1000 questions/month]?”. We compared the answers Kevin got back against quantitative analysis of users’ behavior on the site, based on a large web crawl.
What did we find out? Among other things, that people can’t stand to see questions unanswered, and what really gets them going is seeing misinformation, either on the part of the asker, or given by another user attempting to answer. Another striking observation was the high level of intermittency in user participation. Even highly active users would suspend or curb their question answering when work or family life started making greater demands on their time. And does it matter if a user is only active intermittently? Yes, those whose participation is more constant have a better track record of providing best answers.
It reminds of this XKCD comic:
So if you’re going to CHI, consider attending Kevin’s talk, and in any case, here is the paper.

The future of online social interactions

 conferences/workshops  Comments Off on The future of online social interactions
Dec 052008

I was asked to formulate a position statement for the WWW conference panel on “The Future of Online Social Interactions: What to Expect in 2020”:
In 2020 our efforts, our productivity, our creativity, our knowledge and our interaction, will no longer be stored in shoeboxes, or any boxes at all. Their transmission will no longer necessarily be mediated through paper or institution, rigidly constrained, perhaps not shared at all and soon forgotten. Efforts will be discoverable and appreciated, or archived until such a time as they need to be discovered or are ready to be appreciated. Knowledge will be sought after and sharable. A culture of generosity will prevail, whether it is the sharing of experiences with one’s friends and family or contributing to common knowledge bases with observations, advice, or expertise. We will no longer force our generosity upon others; they may look at our photographs or read our musings at their leisure. They may do so because they know us, or because they want to know us, or because they are indifferent to us, aside from our ability to satiate their thirst for information and entertainment.
We will become intimately familiar with strangers, and allow strangers views into the intimate parts of our lives. We may find ourselves comfortable letting strangers sleep on our couches or take our money, provided their online reputations are good. We will not blunder about the world blindly. We will know where to go, what to do, what products to purchase, and what mates to choose, because some algorithm will optimally combine experience gathered in our social network, with the opinions of “people like us”. The likelihood that we will go wrong will be reduced. We will watch only funny videos, ready only good books, get excellent value for our money, and be able talk about it with our friends, because they will have shared our experience. We will find our niche in the ever growing and evolving network of online people, information, and creativity. We will inextricably be caught in its web, a web that readily adds news threads across great distances, but may or may not ever remove them.

NIH meeting on Modeling Social Behavior

 conferences/workshops  Comments Off on NIH meeting on Modeling Social Behavior
Dec 052008

I attended the NIH meeting on modeling social behavior in November. It was one of those meetings where you fall in love with science and research all over again. Like a kid, you are told all sorts of wondrous things you had no clue about. For example:
– having friends leads to a good night’s sleep (John Cacioppo)
– locusts all swarm in one direction because if they don’t, their asses get bitten (Iain Couzins)
– gossip is not all bad. In fact, it helps alleviate misconceptions (Eliot Smith)
– bees on cocaine change their dance (Gene Robinson)
And especially relevant to my own research, Sinan Aral talked about diversity of social networks and productivity, as well as some fascinating brand new research on a massive online dataset (the complete IM network, purchase and browsing patterns). Drool 🙂 Sinan is looking at the important question of disambiguating correlation and influence.
My own talk was on, you guessed it, expertise sharing in online communities.
To see the talks, go to the NIH website: (Sinan’s talk is about 5 hours and 29 minutes in!)

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