MAS 961 week 6:The individual in a social world


David Jacobson, Impression Formation in Cyberspace: Online Expectations and Offline Experiences in Text-based Virtual Communities


This week, we will revisit the social network assignment from last work, with some differences:

  1. Work on paper. i would like you to explore the greater freedom of freeform sketching - of being able to easily add details as necessary, of being able to paste together layers, add yellow sticky notes, make relief sculptures, etc.
  2. Rethink the organization. In the first round of sketches, many of you made distinctions among work/friends/family while noting that overlap was a significant issue. Should you choose to keep this sort of categorization, think about how you are depicting it: clustering in space lets you group similar things, but the relationship between multiple categories becomes quickly intractable (unless you use an interactive model); depicting categories by color works for a limited number (think about whether you want to combine by color blends or by multiple colors). And think about whether this is indeed the basic organization you wish to use. Is the fundamental idea you are trying to get at that there are groups of people who also know each other (e.g. GSD students; people at Razorfish) or that there are people with whom you have particular types of conversations (e.g. knowledgeable about Linux kernals; rehash social escapades) or something else?
    Think about the role of events (parties, lectures, out of town visits)
  3. Work on the depiction of the individual. How would you show the history of you interaction with someone; how would you indicate the (possibly changing) role they play in your life; how would you indicate who they are? Remember, you may work at different scales: a detailed depiction of the individual is at a different scale than a landscape of everyone you know. We will be looking at the problem of depicting people in greater detail next week, but you should here sketch out an initial set of ideas.

I've included one reading on impression formation and there will be several more next week. This one is a good start, as it both outlines some of the key concepts in social categorization and impression formation and also addresses applying these to online encounters. Please read this paper and be prepared to discuss it.