Highlights from the CSCW2012 Conference

Directly from the CSCW2012 conference in Bellevue (WA) in United States, here is my list of the most interesting pieces of work related to my own research field. A majority of the papers are related to social media in crisis response, one on the use of online forums for coordination in crises and lastly an impressive study on mobile live video production. All these papers will soon be available via www.acm.org/portal

“Beacons of Hope” in Decentralized Coordination: Learning from On-the-Ground Medical Twitterers During the 2010 Haiti Earthquake  

Aleksandra Sarcevic (Drexel University)
Leysia Palen (University of Colorado, Boulder)
Joanne White (University of Colorado, Boulder)
Kate Starbird (University of Colorado, Boulder)
Mossaab Bagdouri (University of Colorado, Boulder)
Kenneth Anderson (University of Colorado, Boulder)

Abstract: We examine the public, social media communications of 110 emergency medical response teams and organizations in the immediate aftermath of the January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake. We found the teams through an inductive analysis of Twitter communications acquired over the three-week emergency period from 89,114 Twitterers. We then analyzed the teams’ Twitter streams, as well as all digital media they generated and pointed to in their streams—blog posts, photographs, videos, status updates and field reports—to understand the medical coordination challenges they faced from pre-deployment readiness to onthe-ground action. Here we identify opportunities for improving coordination in a decentralized and distributed environment where staffing, disease trajectories, and other circumstances rapidly change. We extrapolate from these findings to theorize about how “beaconing” behavior is a sign of latent potential for coordination upon which mechanisms of coordination can capitalize.

Relief Work after the 2010 Haiti Earthquake: Leadership in an Online Resource Coordination Network
Sean P. Goggins (Drexel University)
 Christopher Mascaro (Drexel University)
Stephanie Mascaro (Atlas Research)

Abstract: The US Navy directed its vast resources at the relief effort following the Haiti Earthquake on January 12, 2010. To coordinate with non-governmental-organizations (NGOs) participating in the relief effort, the US Navy used an online discussion forum. What follows is an examination of the emergence, rise, on-the-ground utility and decline of this “walled-garden” style discussion forum. Our findings show that most site activity is broadcast oriented and does not result in discussion, but in the small percentage of cases where discussion emerges, participants are focused on the exchange of medical, Global Information Systems (GIS) and equipment on the ground oriented information. We show how activity on the discussion forum changes over time, and corresponds with events on the ground in Haiti. Four archetypical users are profiled to demonstrate how invisible brokerage style leadership, identified through grounded theory analysis of posts, can be made visible through network analysis of interaction traces. Our findings have implications for the use of forum style, “walled garden” technology for coordination and information sharing in future crises.

(How) Will the Revolution be Retweeted?: Information Diffusion and the 2011 Egyptian Uprising 
Kate Starbird (University of Colorado, Boulder)
Leysia Palen (University of Colorado, Boulder)

Abstract: This paper examines microblogging information diffusion activity during the 2011 Egyptian political uprisings. Specifically, we examine the use of the retweet mechanism on Twitter, using empirical evidence of information propagation to reveal aspects of work that the crowd conducts. Analysis of the widespread contagion of a popular meme reveals interaction between those who were “on the ground” in Cairo and those who were not. However, differences between information that appeals to the larger crowd and those who were doing on-the-ground work reveal important interplay between the two realms. Through both qualitative and statistical description, we show how the crowd expresses solidarity and does the work of information processing through recommendation and filtering. We discuss how these aspects of work mutually sustain crowd interaction in a politically sensitive context. In addition, we show how features of this retweetrecommendation behavior could be used in combination with other indicators to identify information that is new and likely coming from the ground.

Amateur Vision and Recreational Orientation: Creating Live Video Together 
Arvid Engström (MobileLife at Interactive Institute)
Mark Perry (Brunel University & MobileLife at Interactive Institute)
Oskar Juhlin (MobileLife at Interactive Institute)

Abstract: We explore the use of a live video broadcast system by a group of amateur camera operators to film an event on networked cameraphones. Using an interaction analysis of physical interactions and orientations to the work of others, we examine their choice of camera angles and positions in their filming as they attempt to provide interesting visual content and a coherent narrative. Findings illustrate how users adapt their behaviour as co-ordination problems occur by drawing from a set of everyday visual practices (‘amateur vision’). They also show how the specifically temporal aspect of live video requires extended attention on its production, and that this is at odds with the ‘recreational orientation’ of amateur film crews who simultaneously participate in events for their own enjoyment and film them on behalf of other viewers. Implications for the design of collaborative live broadcast media are made, focusing on approaches to interaction design that augment users’ visual practices and allow users to look on behalf of others while experiencing places and events themselves.

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