Swarming in Research Work

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A presentation at the FISCAR2010 Activity Theory conference in Helsinki on my research on new forms of academic research work using approaches from agile programming and peer production.

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Swarming in Research Work

  1. SHARING, SPRINTING AND COLLABORATING IN THE OPEN – Studying Emerging Research Work Practices Juha Kronqvist Media Lab // Aalto University School of Art and Design FISCAR2010 conference 23.5.2010
  2. ABOUT ME • Researcher in the VISCI project (CICERO Learning) • Doctoral student at Aalto University Media Lab • Thesis theme: Studying participatory methods for designing collaborative web environments http://personas.media.mit.edu/personasWeb.html
  3. STRUCTURE 1. NEW FORMS OF PRODUCTION AND RESEARCH WORK 2. PRESENTING THE CASE OF OPEN RESEARCH 3. EMERGING OPEN RESEARCH PRACTICES 4. DISCUSSION
  4. FRAMING THE PRESENTATION PEER RESEARCH PRODUCTION PRACTICES
  5. EMERGING FORMS OF PRODUCTION “Free software offers a glimpse at a more basic and radical challenge. It suggests that the networked environment makes possible a new modality of organizing production: radically decentralized, collaborative, and nonproprietary; based on sharing resources and outputs among widely distributed, loosely connected individuals who cooperate with each other without relying on either market signals or managerial commands. This is what I call ‘commons-based peer production.’” Yochai Benkler (2006)
  6. PRODUSAGE = PRODUCER + USER • The emergence of various domains for peer production has challenged the existing value chain, e.g.: • open source software • on-line publishing (blogs, citizen journalism) • knowledge production (Wikipedia, social bookmarking) • creative practice (A/V sharing, CC distribution) • Duality of producer-consumer roles (Bruns 2008)
  7. AFFORDANCES FOR PRODUSAGE Axel Bruns (2008) 1 2 3 4 PROBABILISTIC, EQUIPOTENTIALITY, GRANULAR, SHARED, NON-DIRECTED NOT NOT NOT PROBLEM HIERARCHY COMPOSITE OWNED SOLVING TASKS CONTENT
  8. OPEN SCIENCE • The process of research has for long been guided by the notion of open science, i.e. that it’s produce is considered a public good • E-Research aims at building infrastructure for supporting access to scholarly information and research data • Current work balances between technological determinism and social construction (Borgman 2008) • Open research supports the open sharing of research process and methodologies in addition to data and results
  9. PEER PRODUCTION OF RESEARCH • So far examples of peer produced research are few and most are cases of citizen research • NASA Clickworkers • Mechanical Turk • Birdwatching • Examples derive mostly from the field of natural sciences
  10. CASE: RESEARCH SWARM
  11. (OPEN) RESEARCH SWARM • An open network of people interested in research • Founded in 2007 • Participation is open to all interested • Relies heavily on social media tools in its operation, e.g.: • Microblogging (http://www.qaiku.com/channels/show/ Tutkimusparvi/) • Wiki’s (http://tutkimus.parvi.fi/) • Etherpad (http://www.etherpad.com – acquired by Google) • Two successful cases of activity • Collectively written paper at MindTrek conference in 2008 • Accepted research proposal for the Academy of Finland • Activity intensity is fluctuating
  12. STUDYING EMERGING RESEARCH • Data collected through virtual ethnography (e.g. Hine 2000) • participation during the development discussions of the RS • tracing back discussions in microblogs • studying wiki pages • supporting interviews with participants • Research focus: practices • defined as culturally embedded ways of doing that combine actions and context (Korkman 2006)
  13. PRESENTED PRACTICES 1. SHARING 2. SPRINTING 3. SWARM LEADERSHIP
  14. SHARING • The Research Swarm conducts most of its communication using open and accessible web tools • There exists a social norm for publishing information while it is being generated (e.g. using email is considered ‘embarassing’) • instrumental for open participation • scope of activities&engagement varies • individual activities can be traced path of engagement • Activities • seminar/meeting backchannels high • open calls for participation interaction some interaction • (micro)updating wikipedia pages low interaction • social bookmarking of interesting information
  15. SPRINTING • Sprinting refers to the action of elevated collective work towards achieving a result within a given time-frame • Can be f.ex. a case where an open call is made to finish up a paper before the deadline • Can happen in intervals of a few hours over a few days • During the sprint, the objectives and rules are constantly communally constructed • The product is constructed granularly or collaboratively • Amount of participation varies from constructing structure for texts to correcting grammar errors
  16. SWARM LEADERSHIP • Leadership is determined by interest and self-organisation and rotates continuously • When a new operation is being uptaken, someone formally or informally takes the role of an coordinative swarm leader • publishing time tables for sprints, tasks and motivating participants through open calls • this role can change during an operation, and is changed at the latest when an operation ends
  17. TOOLS ON SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS SUBJECT • Values are internalized through the use of tools and are assimilated as norms that guide behaviour (Engeström 2008) RULES COMMUNITY • Research Swarm activities are afforded and Activity System Model (Engeström 1985) constrained by the functioning of social media, e.g.: • openness and sharing • textual format • agility and granularity • reliance on networks instead of hierarchies • Some of the core values are derived directly or through the tools from open source development
  18. DISCUSSION • Digital networked technologies are influencing research, also in ways not easily predictable • democratization of research work • wildfire activities (Engeström 2009) • The use of social media tools seems to have the ability to affect the value-base of their users • How should this reflect in the way collaborative research tools are designed? • Pointers for continuing research?
  19. THANKS! Juha  Kronqvist Coordinator  /  Researcher VISCI  Project Media  Lab  /  LeGroup Hämeentie  135  C  FI-00560  Helsinki,  Finland +358  (0)41  466  0309

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