Group Assignment

This assignment will involve collaborative creation of a briefing paper / high level exploration of a particular sector or movement as indicated below.

Groups will undertake a thoughtful and academic study of particular theme identified from the list provided below and then indicate group composition on the Group Signup Forum. This case study will explore this theme from an applied perspective by considering current research in this area and considering its organisation and social impacts. It will involve exploration across psychological, economic, political, anthropological, historical, sociological, financial and technological dimensions.

Groups should be of up to 5 individuals.

This assignment will result in a slide-based presentation that I will ask you to share via SlideShare. These presentations should be of no more than 20 slides in total.

The slide presentation will be marked using the following scheme:

  • 25% : Originality and creativity
  • 25% : Professionalism of presentation
  • 25% : Quality of presentation materials
  • 25% : Effective delivery of findings

This presentation should not exceed the slide count but can include graphic enhancements such as charts, graphs and other visualisations to support your presentation.

The topics to be explored are:

Professional Social Spaces

The professional social graph is evolving. The advent of professional affiliation spaces such as LinkedIn, BanchOut, Viadeo, XING seem to have eclipsed early market entrants such as and What do these spaces offer that the physical workplace does not? How does the professional differ from the personal? Are Facebook and LinkedIn mutually exclusive? This is a ripe area for discussion. It asks questions about trust, the role of such services within the firm. There has been an evolving reaction within many firms to employee membership in online affiliation sites. Exploring revenue models for some of the popular services will be an important aspect of this group assignment. ‘If you are not paying for a service then you are probably the product’ – I paraphrase but the point is relevant to consider in the discussion.

In this exercise as a group you will explore the evolution of professional affiliation spaces (marketplaces?), identify the main players and their modes of operation, look at the changing ways in which these services engage with their users and how they alter the nature of organisational transparency, hiring practise, professional development and the workplace in general. The impact of shifts whereby companies such as Google have chosen to advertise job opportunities exclusively through a single particular online service challenge the nature of the employment marketplace and career strategies. It is your challenge to assess the impact of professional affiliation spaces on society in general.

Co-creating Culture and Peer Media Creation

Controversies surrounding SOPA in the US and the statutory instrument in Ireland raised fresh questions about issues surrounding intellectual property, and the rights of artists to their own work, the way in which . When Apple gained mass acceptance in the marketplace it implemented DRM, supposedly to protect those rights of the artists, but more recently services like SoundCloud have gained increasing popularity as individuals have sought to gain greater control over their own creations. Many have dismissed the need to implement DRM spawning a new ecosystem The same can be said of the co-creative experience spawned by YouTube. Whether it is video, audio, digital art of all kind has given rise to an intriguing dichotomy not unlike that between Open Source Software and commercial software. In the hybridisation of the two results in something like the App Store phenomenon where the barrier to entry for developers has been lowered and a new avenue exists to address a massive marketplace.

How does the ability of artists to market directly to their audience alter the nature of our typical means of cultural production? This group assignment will directly address this new economy based on peer production and co-creation with a focus on the cultural sector and explore some of the firms mentioned above to appreciate how the legal system is being challenged by a radical reinterpretation of intellectual property and of ownership. You will look at the commercial and financial implications of these initiatives along with social motivation behind their emergence. Explore the playing field contrasting SoundCloud with iTunes, Amazon with Project Gutenberg and paint an deeper picture of how the social production prospect is changing society as we know it.

Social Media Activism

Aspects of Social Information Systems have defied management as a result of mass engagement using new tools and affordances. Event such as the so-called Arab Spring have sparked an interest in the far-reaching impacts – social, economic, political, financial and anthropological of . But the revolution is all encompassing and it can be argued that initiatives such as International Modern Media Initiative, as broad-based as DIgg or WikiLeaks simply foreshadow radical changes in the way in which we govern ourselves.
This group will explore initiatives and events as mentioned above to look at the implications of the growing empowerment of areas of society that were challenged to find a voice in the past. The individual nature of these phenomenon as well as the resulting organisations defy direct comparison, but ask you to identify the  common themes, the nature of the tools being employed and look to a possible tipping point where the fringe becomes the mainstream.

How can we measure the effectiveness of Social Media Activism?

Wiki’s and Knowledge Repositories/User Generated Content (UCG)

Increasingly user co-creation is driving a revolution in the way that we produce and manage knowledge. The emergence of Nupedia marked a profound shift in the way that information authority was posited. The growth of Wikipedia is but one example of the ways in which knowledge co-creation changes authority and power structures. Open Street Map is another where User Contributed/Generated Content is collaborative and serves a common good.
This group project will look at the underlying themes of co-creation, massive collaboration, informal authority and explores ways in which these impact on society with a specific emphasis on how this has and is impacting on the organisation. Benkler referred to this as commons-based peer production. This process has not just involved specifically knowledge but also the ways in which production of goods has been revolutionised through means such as open innovation. Your exploration will include the selection of a number of firms, organisations or institutions that are active in this space. Contrast their approaches to the problem identified and speculate with supporting evidence on their future prospects.

Location-Based Services

What does it matter that a machine knows our location at all times? What does it matter that that information is shared with a wide multitude of people, institutions and organisations? The rise of services that provide personalised recommendations on demand based on where you are and what you want are altering the way we navigate our environment.

Exploring examples of services such as as FourSquare, Facebook Places, the now defunct Gowalla, and augmented location-based recommendation systems that offer aspects of personalisation such as Yelp or  to name but a few explore this landscape.  Many of the bigger players offer APIs that have been coupled with a wide variety of other services that feed off of this new locational awareness. Clearly there are huge privacy concerns, but these new services have also changed the way in which business process are structured, developing new and innovative ways to respond to the threats posed by this awareness but also finding new opportunities to carry out traditional tasks and processes in revolutionary ways.

Your exploration will include the selection of a number of firms in addition to service providers such as LinkedIn that are active in this space. Contrast their approaches to the problem identified and speculate with supporting evidence on their future prospects. Connect these social and financial implications to the broader discussions in lecture and identify the future directions you see happening in this space.

Social Tagging and Realtime Engagement and Spontaneous Communities of Interest

Metadata is not just a word for digital librarians anymore. Throughout the world we are classifying organising and embuing objects with greater context that at any time in the past. What are the implications for the ways in which we manage our lives and the pieces of information that we consider everyday? Additionally the way in which we interact with objects and streams in realtime is changing how we socially engage around traditional activities. Some criticise services like twitter for being full of mention of nothingness, yet active social engagement with Twitter has facilitated new forms of realtime mediated social engagement around sporting events, conferences and bridged a gap between real presence and vicarious presence.

This group will explore the growth and evolution of realtime lightweight messaging tools such as Twitter and its competitors and tools such as which enable shared experiences around engagement with knowledge and discovery. The act of commenting in realtime on a sports event along with millions of others identifies a new trend in large scale social engagement. What are the impacts of this engagement on how we undertake everyday activities. Does it offer possibilities for social engaged marketing? How do these realtime, yet amorphous and entirely voluntary communities differ from the nature of traditional communities of interest? What if your refrigerator tweeted you to let you need milk? The emergence of a lightweight communication protocol might extend the level of automation in out lives – what the opportunities or pitfalls in widescale undirected social engagement?

Social Spaces

What are the social implications of the manic growth of social spaces such as Facebook or Weibo? What are the implications of the cultural divide that is evident in adoption – what about the enforced political ? How is success measured and what led to the success of FaceBook and the demise of MySpace (yeah, its not quite dead yet)? Social spaces extend beyond purely persoanl usage though and what is causing organisations to consider implementing FaceBook in the enterprise – Yammer, Chatter, etc?

This group will explore the rise of personal spaces as best currently exemplified by FaceBook. How did this movement originate? What characterises it from the perspective of the evolution of traditional social interaction? Who have we seen come and go? What do you think are the challenges to the success of current players? What features distinguish the current players? Where is this space going? Was FaceBook overvalued, or is its current market dominance unassailable? What about Weibo? Can personal social space move effectively into the professional realm? Most importantly, when you look at the impact of personal social spaces, how have these impacted widely on the way in society organises the production and management of information? Looking at aspects of community management and marketing explore the new possibilities that are offered and have extended the engagement between those socialising and those seeking to use the social for commercial means.

Filesharing in the Cloud

This topics is less defined but is intended to allow for contentious issues such as th case of Kim dotcom and of services such as Pirate Bay, but also seeks to address the emrgence of services such as SugarSync and DropBox. How doe they change the way in which we perceive intellectual property, licensing and copyright? How does this tie into the Free Software Foundation or the Open Knowledge Foundation?

Wikileaks – Privacy, Security and Big Data

Looking at personalities such as Snowden or Assange, what can we say about the desirability/necessity of whistleblowers? Looking at the recent revelations about the deep pervasiveness of surveillance in our society, how does the digital make it easier or harder for central authorities or power elites to exert control?

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