The first panel I made it to today (I slept in a tiny bit, and then got so irate over the Chronicle that I missed the first session) focused on the question of the openness of ostensibly open communities, including wiki contributors, YouTube users, and open-source programmers. First, Ralph Schroeder and Mattijs den Besten presented on the Pynchon wiki, started by pynchon-l denizen and Pynchon Hyperarts archive author Tim Ware; then Sheizaf Rafaeli presented his research with Yaron Ariel and Tsahi Hayat on opinion leaders in Wikipedia discussions; Alice Marwick presented a really interesting paper exploring claims of YouTube’s powers of “democratization,” comparing hype about the site with its actual use; Evangelia Berdou presented on the contributions of non-programmers to open-source projects; and Robert Mason and Karine Barzilai-Nahon presented on their research with David Hendy into the democratization of the software design process.
Reading the abstracts, I wouldn’t have thought these papers would work together as well as they did, but it proved to be a very interesting panel. The only problem was that with five papers in 90 minutes, the time keeper — for which position I volunteered — had to be pretty draconian. I’m now about to moderate another five-paper panel, so I’ve got to put the task-master hat back on…
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