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"Quentin (Gad) Jones" <[log in to unmask]>
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Fri, 6 Sep 2002 01:35:21 -0400
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The Role of Place in Shaping Virtual Community

What: A Workshop on Building Virtual Community Places
Where: CSCW 2002, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
When: Saturday, November 16, 2002
Submission: Position paper and profile by Friday Sept 27th (any 
questions please contact us we are happy to work with people)
Notification: Accept/Reject feedback by Monday Oct 14
Quentin Jones, New Jersey Institute of Technology, [log in to unmask]
Christine Halverson, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, [log in to unmask]

The Call for Participation
The adoption of modern communication technologies increasingly situates 
interpersonal interactions virtually. This has had an enormous impact on 
people's social networks as community ties shift from linking people 
together-in-physical-places to people-to-people-wherever-they-might-be 
[18]. However, these changes have not lessened the importance of place, 
be it virtual or physical, in shaping interaction patterns and discourse.

The term place means different things to different people, and this 
workshop will examine these differences in relation to virtual 
community. In particular this workshop aims to explore the myriad of 
ways that:
* the design of virtual or hybrid spaces / places directly provides 
common ground for user interactions; and
* communities use public interactions in virtual spaces to create shared 
This exploration will in turn be used to enable an examination of 
various aspects of virtual community development and maintenance.

In recent years we have moved away from the notion that the ever 
increasing virtualization of interpersonal communications has simply 
led, as Meyrowitz's [12] describes it, to a sense of placeless-ness. 
Instead, it is now widely accepted among computer-mediated communication 
researchers that cyberspace abounds with virtual places within which 
vibrant interactions occur [7]. Instead of focusing on the demise of 
many of the physical Great Good Places [13] where unrelated people 
relate, many have celebrated the growth in virtual places associated 
with community [15].

These places where virtual community members interact are referred to by 
a wide variety of labels including chat rooms [14], cyber-inns [4], 
virtual settlements [9], commons [11], and conferences [8]. The 
provision of such labels highlights the role of virtual places in 
providing context for discourse. Of course, the context of place both 
affects, and is affected by associated user interactions and the nature 
and form of the client technologies used by members to interact. Some 
systems are completely open to the public, such as LambdaMoo [16], 
others are restricted to a membership [17], or a specific task or 
purpose [5].

All these points highlight the importance of gaining an understanding of 
the role of place in shaping virtual community discourse. This task is 
made even more pressing by the advent of mobile client technologies that 
use devices such as PDA's or cell phones, and associated communication 
technologies such as SMS and 3G, which complicates notions of virtual 
community public places.

This workshop aims to explore the role of place in supporting virtual 
community interactions. Among the questions we hope participants will 
take on are the following:

 Is place designed? Accreted? Or renewed through interactions on some 
regular basis?
 Is place a physical metaphor? Or expressed through issues of behavior, 
understanding of presence, or discourse?
 How does place provide a context for your virtual community?
 When community members interact with their client technology how does 
place impact on their interactions?
 What is the interaction between the design of user interfaces and the 
ability of the participants to create a place for social interaction?
 What theoretical constructs have been useful to you in understanding 
how interactions in community places have enabled people to stays tied 

A variety of disciplines are pertinent to these explorations, including 
architecture, sociology, linguistic and discourse analyses, and design. 
Each one approaches the ideas of place and common ground for interaction 
from a slightly different perspective, and level of detail. Other 
disciplines may have pertinent insights and approaches. We would like to 
encourage them all. Important perspectives and issues include the 
notions of space and place [7], common information space [1], common 
ground in discourse [3], discourse architecture [10], genre theory [6], 
and other detailed aspects of linguistics [2].

There have been a number of past community workshops, covering formation 
of communities, construction of infrastructures and understanding 
aspects of group formation and vitality. Recently there has been more 
emphasis on how to study and understand active communities. We would 
like to expand this to a deeper understanding of the mechanisms involved 
as they relate to place.

The full day workshop will be divided into three sections: 1) 
Exploration of participants' examples of how the design of virtual place 
provides common ground for user interactions; 2) An examination of how 
communities use public interactions in virtual spaces to create shared 
meaning; and 3) A synthesis session where participants will explore 
various aspects of virtual community development and maintenance.

If attendance is high we may break into subgroups for more intense 
discussion. If this is the case then each smaller group will report back 
with their key ideas.

By the end of the workshop participants will have a catalog of examples 
of existing virtual places and an accompanying critique of their 
strengths and weaknesses for supporting user interactions

By Friday Sept 27th, submit the following (preferably electronically):

Proposals should be no longer than 6 pages and should include 
description of the following aspects.
1) An existing place used to support community (or communities);
2) An examination of how the place/s under consideration provides common 
ground for user interactions; and
3) Theoretical ideas or approaches that help you understand context and 
social interaction, or an exploration of virtual community development 
and maintenance.

Position papers should explain how the author's work relates to the 
workshop theme. We are particularly interested in seeing perspectives at 
a variety of levels from high and meta to micro- scales.

Position papers will be reviewed by the workshop organizers and the 
final organization will be adapted to take into account the number 
expected and the range of submissions. We expect about 12-15 
participants, but could expand up to 20. If size approaches the maximum 
we will adjust the workshop organization to spend some time broken into 
small groups so that the quality of the discussions remains high.

We look for a wide range of participants. System architects and 
designers who have thought about and implemented supports for social 
interaction, social psychologists, linguists and sociologists who have 
studied online interactions, and others we may not have previously 

Those from outside of the CSCW community should note that you are NOT 
required to pay the conference registration fee if you only want to 
attend the workshop. However, first-time attendees are most welcome, and 
we encourage you to look over the array of offerings on the conference 

1. Bannon, L., and Bodker, S. Constructing Common Information Space. 
Proceedings of the Fifth ECSCW. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Netherlands 
, 1997.
2. Brennan, S.E. and J.O. Ohaeri. Why do electronic conversations seem 
less polite: the costs and benefits of hedging. in WACC '99. 1999. San 
Francisco, CA : ACM..
3. Clark , H. Arenas of language use. University of Chicago Press, 
Chicago, 1992.
4. Coate, J., 1992. Innkeeping in Cyberspace, In: Directions and 
Implications of Advanced Computing (DIAC-92), Computer Professionals for 
Social Responsibility, Palo Alto, CA.
5. Erickson, T., et al. Socially Translucent Systems: Social Proxies, 
Persistent Conversation, and the Design of Babble. in Human Factors in 
Computing: The Proceedings of CHI 99. 1999. Pittsburgh, PA : ACM Press.
6. Erickson, T. Making Sense of Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC): 
Conversations as Genres, CMC Systems as Genre Ecologies. In the 
Proceedings of the Thirty-Third Hawaii International Conference on 
Systems Science. January, 2000. IEEE Press.
7. Harrison, S. and P. Dourish, 1996. Re-place-ing space: The roles of 
place and space in collaborative systems, In: Computer Supported 
Collaborative Work, ACM, Cambridge, MA pp. 67-76.
8. Hiltz, S.R. and M. Turoff, 1981. The evolution of user behavior in a 
computerized conferencing system, Communications of the ACM, 24 (11 
November): 739-751.
9. Jones Q. 1997. Virtual-communities, virtual-settlements & 
cyber-archaeology: A theoretical outline. J of Comp Mediated 
Communication 3(3).
10. Jones Q., and S. Rafaeli 2000. Time to Split, Virtually: 'Discourse 
Architecture' and 'Community Building' as means to Creating Vibrant 
Virtual Publics. Electronic Markets: The International Journal of 
Electronic Commerce and Business Media. 10(4) 214-223.
11. Kollock, P. and M. Smith, 1994. Managing the virtual commons: 
Cooperation and conflict in computer communities. In: Computer-Mediated 
Communication, (Ed. S. Herring), John Benjamins, Amsterdam.
12. Meyrowitz, J., 1985. No sense of place, Oxford University Press 
Inc., New York.
13. Oldenburg, R., 1989. The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, 
Community Centers, Beauty Parlors, General Stores, Bars, Hangouts, and 
How They Get You Through The Day., Paragon House, New York.
14. Reid, E. M., 1991. Electropolis: Communications and community on 
Internet Relay Chat, Honors, History, University of Melbourne.
15. Rheingold, H., 1993. The virtual community: Homesteading on the 
electronic frontier, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.
16. Schiano, D.J. and S. White. The first noble truth of CyberSpace: 
People are People (even when they MOO). in CHI 98. 1998. Los Angeles CA 
: ACM.
17. Schlager, M. and P. Schank. TAPPED IN: A New On-line Teacher 
Community Concept for the Next Generation of Internet Technology. in 
CSCL '97, The Second International Conference on Computer Support for 
Collaborative Learning. 1997. Toronto : ACM.
18. Wellman, B., "Physical Place and Cyber Place: The Rise of 
Personalized Networking" International Journal of Urban and Regional 
Research 25, 2 (2001): 227-52.

Christine Halverson is a researcher at IBM Research. She is involved 
with the development and analysis of systems to help work groups 
interact collaboratively over networks. Her analytic approaches have 
included visualizations, linguistic analysis, online participation and 
observations among others. Her research group has designed and deployed 
a number of online systems including BABBLE & Loops.

Quentin (Gad) Jones is an Assistant Professor at the New Jersey 
Institute of Technology. Prior to his current position, Quentin was a 
researcher at AT&T labs research, New Jersey . Before living in the 
United States he was a doctoral student in Information Systems at Hebrew 
and Haifa Universities Israel. Quentin research focus is on 
understanding mass interaction ecologies that result in thriving virtual 
communities. His current community projects include ContactMap, and 

* - Erickson T., Herring S., Sack W., Discourse Architectures: The 
Design and Analysis of Computer-Mediated Conversation. CHI 2002.
* - Erickson T., and Herring S., "Persistent Conversation" workshops at 
the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) from 
* - Farnham S., Smith M., et. al. Integrating Diverse Research and 
Development Approaches to the Construction of Social Cyberspaces. CHI 2001.
* - Bruckman A., Erickson T., et. al. Dealing with Community Data, CSCW 
* - Muller M., and Friedman J., Electronic Communities: Places and 
Spaces, Contents and Boundaries. CHI 2000.
* - Barbesino et. al. Designing Across Borders: The Community Design of 
Community Networks. CSCW 1998.
* - Toomey L., Tang J., Adams L., and Gloria Mark Designing Virtual 
Communities for Work. CSCW 1998.
* - Bruckman A., Erickson T., et. al. Workshop on Research Issues in the 
Design of Online Communities. CHI 1999.