I’m headed to CSCW 2012 (the ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work) in Bellevue, WA with my co-PIs and students.

We’ll be presenting three papers at the conference all related to social transparency in online settings. We define social transparency as the visibility of information about other’s behavior online, including their identity (who is it?), actions on artifacts (what are they doing or looking at?), interactions with others (and who are they talking to?). In our recent research we have been theorizing about this concept, examining how it influences collaboration and impression formation in a naturalistic way, and conducting experiments manipulating features of the transparent signal and examining the influence on participation in a social setting.

Our first paper is on Monday Feb 13th at 11:00 (in Grand C) in the session on Community and Classification Online. This is a note that was also selected as a Best Note in the conference!:

Fresh Faces in the Crowd: Turnover, Identity, and Commitment in Online Groups
Laura Dabbish, Rosta Farzan, Robert Kraut, Tom Postmes

This note presents an experiment on the influence of visible turnover and a common social identity on member retention in online social groups. Here visible turnover was manipulated in terms of the amount of change in member faces individuals are exposed to in an online group. Interestingly we found that turnover had distinct effects on member participation and retention depending on the presence of a common social identity (enhancing rather than depressing participation with more salient indicators of a common identity).

Our next paper on Monday Feb 13th at 3:00 (in Grand A) in the session on Twitter and Social Transparency:

Social Transparency in Networked Information Exchange: A Theoretical Framework
Colleen Stuart, Laura Dabbish, Sara Kiesler, Peter Kinnaird, Ruogu Kang

In this paper we delineate the concept of social transparency and introduce a framework for theorizing about how different types of social transparency may influence collaborative outcomes such as knowledge transfer, team performance, innovation, and relationship development.

Our third paper is on Tuesday Feb 14th at 11:00 (in Grand J) in the session on Toolkits and Software Development:

Social Coding in GitHub: Transparency and Collaboration in an Open Software Repository
Laura Dabbish, Colleen Stuart, Jason Tsay, Jim Herbsleb

This paper presents a qualitative study on collaborative behavior in a transparent work environment. In our study, we looked at how the social transparency afforded by social media functionality in the site GitHub helps software developers find new knowledge and coordinate their work. We wanted to understand social transparency in action in an large online community, particularly how people interpreted cues about others’ behaviors online and how those inferences affected work practices.

My collaborators on these papers have been excellent and thought-provoking! In all we are presenting three very different kinds of pieces (conceptual, exploratory qualitative, and experimental quantitative) advancing our understanding of social transparency in online environments.