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Shameless Bragging

Coye and I have had our short paper accepted to CSCW 2010, and nominated for best note award, which is exciting:

Antin, J., and C. Cheshire. 2010. “Readers are not Free-Riders: Reading as a Form of Participation on Wikipedia.” in Proceedings of the ACM 2009 conference on Computer supported cooperative work. Savannah, GA. (PDF)

You can check out the full advance program too. Looks like lots of fantastic papers in there!

ETrust - Forming Relationships in the Online World

Coye and my chapter in a new book also co-edited by Coye is out: eTrust – Forming Relationships in the Online World. This is the latest volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's series on trust, and it's chock full of great stuff.

Amazon doesn't list it as released yet, but you can get it from Russell Sage directly.

I've done a complete redesign of my website at technotaste.com. I'd be interested in any comments, critiques, ways to improve it. Thanks!

Along with Dan Perkel and Christo Sims, I've just published a paper drawn from our work on the Digital Youth Project a few years back. I'd be interested in any and all comments:

Judd Antin, Dan Perkel, and Christo Sims, "Unexpected Collaborations: Kids' Appropriation of GarageBand as a Group Creative Tool" (December 1, 2008). School of Information. Paper 2008-027. http://repositories.cdlib.org/ischool/2008-027

My adviser Coye Cheshire, and I have just had a paper published in the latest issue of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. It's titled The Social Psychological Effects of Feedback on the Production of Internet Information Pools and it's freely available here.

I'm excited because this is the work that set me down the research path that I'm currently on, and that will lead to my dissertation research (and beyond). It's based on research I did while I was working on Mycroft, which then became a relatively short-lived startup company called inChorus.

A friend of mine and I have recently started a new website called isgoodfor.us which is based on a simple idea: all the good domains are gone! So we managed to buy up a series of cool top-level domain names and we're selling subdomains very cheap. You buy, for example, 'corruption.isbadfor.us' and forward it wherever you'd like. You have to host your site elsewhere, but it doesn't matter what the domain is, because you can just give out the isgoodfor.us domain, which we hope is easy to remember, fun, and makes a statement.

So the question is: how does one kickstart the marketing of a thing like this? Where does one start in making a new meme? Of course, a thing will sink or swim on its own merits. It could very well turn out that people don't like the idea. But how do we get them to hear about it? I'm sure if anyone had really figured this out they'd be a millionaire by now.

One way, of course, is to blog about it. (ahem!) I'm also thinking about posting the link on digg.com, reddit.com, etc. I'm not going to spam my friends. One idea we had was to put a few high profile domains, in this case georgewbush.isgoodfor.us (auction) and georgewbush.isbadfor.us (auction) up for auction on ebay, hoping that some folks will take notice.

Anyway, who knows. This is the great thing about Web 2.0. My friend and I devoted a few hours of work to a silly and fun idea, and now we can largely 'set it and forget it' and provide a simple service, hopefully to lots of folks. But it was easy, we learned a lot doing it, and if we can make a bit of beer money, then great!

Today and tomorrow are the culmination of a long, busy semester of working on Mycroft. I'm really proud of what we've accomplished so far, and excited that we finally get to show it off. There are two end-of-semester events at the iSchool that you might come to, if you're so inclined. For a quick overview of what I and my cohorts have been doing, you can come to the Final Project Showcase, from 4-7 tonight, in South Hall Room 110. (Check out all the project descriptions.) For a deeper look, tomorrow morning's got a series of 30 minute talks about all the projects. Check out the schedule here. We'll be giving away (some) of the deepest darkest secrets about Mycroft at our talk at 11:30 in Room 202. Hope to see you there!

Ben Hill, my co-conspirator for Mycroft, our distributed collaboration project, appears as one of two guests on this week's edition of Jon Udell's weekly podcast over at InfoWorld. The other guest is Nathan McFarland of castingwords.com. CastingWords is a podcast transcription service that uses Amazon's Mechanical Turk as the outsource labor provider.

Jon wanted to to talk about the possibilities of 'harnessing collective intelligence,' (a la Tim O'Reilly) a phrase I really like. Collective intelligence is really built when people can collaborate and contribute in the course of their daily activities. When you make a dedicated activity out of it, you begin to move towards the individual side of the individual/collective continuum. We built Mycroft with this in mind, and it was the main reason we chose to focus in on tasks that take only a few seconds – tasks you can do without ever leaving whatever page hosts the Mycroft module. I think enabling these casual, fun interactions will be the key to sustaining a high participation rate over time.

Tomorrow I'm off to Vancouver to attend the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA). This is a wonderful conference, and I highly recommend it. In the last few years the number of people who are doing work combining anthropology with design and various IT-related fields is growing – and fast. Add to that the fact that the meetings provide a genuinely diverse set of perspectives, and include a group of people that are (in my experience) knowledgeable, humble, friendly, and eager to collaborate. As compared to the AAA meetings, SfAAs tend to be more informal and to have a great deal more discussion and debate. Check out the program if you want to get a sense of it.

This year I'm giving both a talk and a poster. My talk, terribly titled 'Cultural Assessment of Kiosk Projects,' is on Wednesday from 3:30-5:20. Hopefully I can learn from some of the insightful comments on giving talks from Steve and Lorenz. It's on work I'm doing on integrating cultural assessment into the design and evaluation of projects in the Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) space. This is getting to be a crowded field, and my own contribution is small, but I feel like I've got a good handle on the transitions that are happening from the perspective of applied anthropology.

And like many others, I have first hand experience with the fact that development researchers in many fields are starting realize that anthropology and ethnography are important, but they understand it as a set of methods only. While I have no pretensions about ethnography, as opposed to some who argue that 'real' ethnography can only be done by anthropologists, I do think many well-meaning researchers and practitioners in other fields actually do us a disservice by trying to use ethnographic-like methods. In trying to advance the case for ethnography to their colleagues, they often have no real 'ammunition' except that they know it ought to be done. This, in my opinion, is the same, and just as bad, as technologists who throw gadgets at development problems because they can, hoping that one will solve the problem.

My poster, during a session on Friday from 1:30-4, is based on work I did with Ben Gross regarding how people manage multiple email addresses, messaging accounts, and the like in the course of everyday life. We wonder: what are the factors that influence habits, perceptions, and decisions around complex, multi-faceted lives online? This is my first poster at the SfAA, and I'm kind of psyched for it. Poster sessions seem much more engaging than paper sessions, where the audience is always at a distance.

I hope to be online and blog some of the sessions as we go along. If you're also attending the SfAAs, drop me a line.

The Mycroft Project (which I blogged about previously) has finally reached rollout stage. We've been working feverishly to get this prototype up and running, though like anything alpha, we're expecting some glitches. This week we're rolling out our website and a prototype of the banner that we hope will someday be on thousands of websites as a replacement for web ads. Check it out at the top of this page.

Go ahead, play around with it. Feel free to sign up. Right now we're in the process of looking for volunteer sites to host the banner. It's really simple: you just go to our website, sign up, and drop the auto-generated code-snippet into your website, just like you would do with Google's AdSense. In return we'll advertise that you are in the Mycroft Network, you'll be first in line when we start paying webhosts per-click, and you'll get the satisfaction of knowing you're helping to put an end to the irritation web ads that we all know and love. So if you've got a blog or a website that gets any traffic at all, we'd really appreciate your help.

This is the 'proof-of-concept' phase where we are trying to generate traffic in order to test the system, and develop our algorithms for data quality and incentives. So please use the banner, try to break it, sign up, and come back often. For more information about all of this, please visit mycroftnetwork.com.

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