* The European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work 2003 *
Workshop on Inhabiting Virtual Places: Social Context in Online Work Places
As work becomes more global and distributed, being able to support
informal interactions that are not face to face becomes more important.
Modern communication technologies increasingly situate interpersonal
interactions virtually. This has had an enormous impact on people's
social networks and work relationships, as communication media
increasingly allow being able to connect people, wherever they might be,
synchronously, as well as asynchronously. While, these changes have not
lessened the importance of place, be it virtual or physical, in shaping
interaction patterns and discourse, they have altered the resources
available for individuals to make decisions about those they are working
with, and thus their behavior. This workshop aims to explore the myriad
of ways that:
1) The design of virtual or hybrid spaces / places sets up the
conditions for ongoing interactions
2) Work groups use interactions in virtual spaces to create shared meaning.
These explorations will in turn be used to examine aspects of social and
cognitive behavior online, and how they might differ between work and
leisure related virtual places.
Christine A. Halverson
Social Computing Group,
IBM T. J. Watson Research
Information Systems Department,
College of Computing Sciences,
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Send submissions to: [log in to unmask]
Deadline for submission: June 7, 2003
Notification of Acceptance: by June 23, 2003
Workshop Date: Monday, September 15, 2003
GOALS and OBJECTIVES
Many kinds of work are becoming more global and distributed, while
increased costs often demand, not that people hop on planes, but that
business be conducted in some other way: telephone, video, and
increasingly via instant messaging (IM), online portals, and virtual
communities. Situating interpersonal interactions virtually is impacting
people’s social networks, work relationships, and work practices—a trend
that has always accompanied distributed work (Chalmers 2001) .Place,
whether virtual or physical, is still vital in shaping interaction
patterns and discourse. However, the medium may have altered the
resources available for individuals to make decisions about those they
are working with, and thus their behavior.
While we have moved away from the notion that virtualization of
interpersonal communications has necessarily led, as Meyrowitz’s
(Meyrowitz 1985) describes it, to a sense of placeless-ness we do not
yet understand how "place-ness" comes to be in a virtual space (Harrison
and Dourish 1996) . It is widely accepted among computer-mediated
communication researchers that cyberspace abounds with virtual places
within which vibrant interactions occur and some of which become
associated with community (Rheingold 1993; Preece 1998) . Our goal is
to better understand how virtual places are successfully inhabited. This
task is made even more pressing by our burgeoning understanding of the
importance of informal interactions in the workplace (Bellotti and Bly
1996; Isaacs, Walendowski et al. 2002) .We posit that creating virtual
community, whether for work or leisure, requires not just a virtual
space/place, but inhabiting it successfully. Living in a virtual place,
like a physical place, engages our perception and cognition. We need
cues to perceive others' behavior, and we need to make inferences about
what that behavior means in order to successfully interact with them
(Erickson, Smith et al. 1999) .
This workshop aims to explore how the design of virtual spaces sets up
the conditions for ongoing interactions, and how work groups use
interactions in virtual spaces to create shared meaning. Among the
questions we hope participants will take on are the following:
· Is ease of habitation designed into place? Are social rules dictated?
Or renewed and altered through interactions on some regular basis?
· What cues provide a context for understanding online behavior?
· What's the balance between play and seriousness in a work place?
· How does the supporting technology impact users' interactions?
· What is the interaction between the design of user interfaces and the
ability of the participants to create a viable 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. For
example, facial expression, gesture, and audible cues are all prevalent
in face to face interaction. Online cues might be extended to auditory
and haptic modalities. We would like to encourage them all.
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 inhabiting virtual space, thus creating place and
If participants agree, activities will start with dinner at a local
restaurant the night preceding the full day workshop. Prior to
ordering dinner a general orientation of the workshop will be given by
the organizers, along with introductions. During dinner participants
will present their submissions. They will be given a maximum of 3
minutes to speak. This dinner meeting will enable us to maximize the
full day workshop. Accepted participants will be expected to have read
the positions papers before attending the dinner and the workshop.
The full day will be divided into a number of interactive sessions,
rather than just presentation of position papers. The exact details will
depend upon the position papers received, however we hope to: 1) Explore
participants’ examples of how the design of virtual place provides
common ground for user interactions; 2) Examine how communities use
public interactions in virtual spaces to create shared meaning; and 3)
Look at the impact of virtual behavior on community development and
maintenance. and the final organization will be adapted to take into
account the number expected and the range of submissions. Ideally, 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. By the end of the workshop participants will
have catalogued design differences, cues, and behaviors in various
virtual settings, and explored how they support behavior in work related
spaces. 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
Participants will be selected on the basis of position papers submitted
prior to the workshop. 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),
including information about whether or not it is a work community and ;
2) An examination of how the place/s under consideration provides cues
and common ground for user interactions, and ;
3) Theoretical ideas or approaches that help you understand context and
social interaction, or;
4) Analysis of similarities or differences between a work related and a
leisure related community.
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, ranging from meta views to micro-scale analyses.
Position papers will be reviewed by the workshop organizers
Submissions should be sent to [log in to unmask] by June 7, 2003. Position
papers will be reviewed by the workshop organizers and notification of
acceptance will be by June 23, 2003.
We encourage 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
Christine Halverson is a researcher in the Social Computing Group 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 &
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, New Jersey. Before living in the United States
he was a doctoral student in Information Systems at Hebrew and Haifa
Universities Israel. Quentin's research focus is on understanding mass
interaction ecologies that result in thriving virtual communities. His
current community projects include ContactMap, and GeoMemory.
RELATED PAST WORKSHOPS
Jones, Q. and Halverson, C. The Role of Place in Shaping Virtual
Community, CSCW 2002
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 1999-2002
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 2000
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
Bellotti, V. and S. Bly (1996). Walking away from the desktop computer:
distributed collaboration and mobility in a product design team.
Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Boston, MA, ACM.
Chalmers, M. (2001). "Place, media, and activity." ACM SIGGROUP Bulletin
Erickson, T., D. N. Smith, et al. (1999). Socially Translucent Systems:
Social Proxies, Persistent Conversation, and the Design of Babble. Human
Factors in Computing: The Proceedings of CHI 99, Pittsburgh, PA, ACM Press.
Harrison, S. and P. Dourish (1996). Re-place-ing space: the roles of
place and space in collaborative systems. ACM Conference on Computer
Supported Cooperative Work, Boston, MA, ACM.
Isaacs, E., A. Walendowski, et al. (2002). The Character, Functions, and
Styles of Instant Messaging in the Workplace. Computer Supported
Cooperative Work (CSCW), New Orleans, LA, ACM.
Meyrowitz, J. (1985). No sense of place. New York, Oxford University Press.
Preece, J. (1998). "Empathic communities: reaching out across the Web."
interactions 5(2): 32-43.
Rheingold, H. (1993). The virtual community. Homsteading on the
electronic frontier. Reading, MA., Addison-Wesley.