Maryland's iSchool is pleased to announce the CASCI Kick-Off Event on November 13th. We are also pleased to announce that Dr. Marc Smith will be  presenting his latest research at 4pm.

Presenter: Dr. Marc Smith
Title: Pictures of traces of places, people, and groups: visualizing computer-mediated collective action
When: 4:00pm Thursday, Nov. 13th, 2008
Where: Hornbake Building, South Wing, Room 2119
Hosted by: Center for the Advanced Study of Communities and Information (
Note: Please contact CASCI director, Dr. Derek Hansen ([log in to unmask]) if you would like to schedule one-on-one or small group visits with Marc earlier in the day.

About the speaker :
Marc Smith is a sociologist specializing in the social organization of online communities and computer mediated interaction. He founded and managed the Community Technologies Group at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington for ten years and is now the Chief Social Scientist for the Telligent Corporation (

He is the co-editor of Communities in Cyberspace (Routledge), a collection of essays exploring the ways identity; interaction and social order develop in online groups.

Smith's research focuses on computer-mediated collective action: the ways group dynamics change when they take place in and through social cyberspaces. Many "groups" in cyberspace produce public goods and organize themselves in the form of a commons (for related papers see: Smith's goal is to visualize these social cyberspaces, mapping and measuring their structure, dynamics and life cycles. He developed the "Netscan" web application and data mining engine that allows researchers studying Usenet newsgroups to get reports on the rates of posting, posters, crossposting, thread length and frequency distributions of activity.

This research offers a means to gather historical data on the development of social cyberspaces and can be used to highlight the ways these groups differ from, or are similar to, face-to-face groups. Smith is applying this work to the development of a generalized community platform for Microsoft, providing a web based system for groups of all sizes to discuss and publish their material to the web.

Smith received a B.S. in International Area Studies from Drexel University in Philadelphia in 1988, an M.Phil. in social theory from Cambridge University in 1990, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA in 2001.

Studies of computer mediated collective action systems, now sometimes called social media or Web 2.0, provide insights into their structure and dynamics and point to important enhancements. In this talk I will review projects that highlight and attempt to enhance computer mediated collective action and point towards future work. Three sociological traditions, social network theory, collective action dilemma theory, and interactionist sociologies, provide a set of frames for social media activity. Combining these approaches with data mining and information visualization techniques leads to a deeper understanding of the range of social behavior and aggregate performance of social media spaces and participants. Social media systems may vary in form but most share common data structures, notably directed graphs representing relationships created by connections between users. Visualizations of a variety of social media spaces will illustrate the roles that are most critical to the success of collective efforts to generate value on the web. Tools like (Excel) .NetMap are freely available to support these explorations (see: