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Leadership in Online Creative Collaboration - CSCW 2008
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Leadership in Online Creative Collaboration - CSCW 2008

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Presented by Kurt Luther and Amy Bruckman (GVU Center, Georgia Tech) at the 2008 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2008).

Presented by Kurt Luther and Amy Bruckman (GVU Center, Georgia Tech) at the 2008 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2008).

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  • 1. Leadership in Online Creative Collaboration Kurt Luther Amy Bruckman School of Interactive Computing Georgia Institute of Technology
  • 2. “ Pass-my-Flash 2” An example collaborative animation project (collab) http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/428554
  • 3. Some Numbers
    • Year created: 2008
    • Audience views: 65,000+
    • Participants: 7
      • Ages: 17 to 29
      • Countries: 2
        • U.S. and CAN
      • Cities: 5
        • Brooklyn, Ontario, Orlando, Savannah, Washington D.C.
  • 4. Some Questions
    • How did these animators meet ?
    • How did they agree on a collab?
    • How was the work divided up ?
    • How much planning was involved?
    • What roles , if any, did animators adopt?
    • What other types of collabs exist?
    • How does all of this compare with other types of online, collaboratively-created projects?
  • 5. Preview
    • Online Creative Collaboration
    • Leadership in Online Creative Collaboration
    • Study and Methods
    • Challenges for Leaders
    • Three Differences
    • What’s Next: Sandbox
  • 6. A Show of Hands Wikipedia , a free online encyclopedia Mozilla Firefox , a free web browser Linux , a free operating system
  • 7. A Show of Hands Wikipedia , a free online encyclopedia Mozilla Firefox , a free web browser Linux , a free operating system
    • 10 million+ articles
    • Comparable in quality to Encyclopedia Britannica [Giles 2005]
    • Holds almost 20% of browser market share [Net Apps 2008]
    • Used by over 40% of large American corporations [Weber 2004]
  • 8. Online Creative Collaboration
    • People meet and communicate online to create new artifacts by collaborating on shared projects.
    • Examples : Open-Content Publishing (Wikipedia) Open-Source Software (Linux, Mozilla Firefox) Animation Collabs (“Pass-my-Flash 2”)
    1 2 3
  • 9. Leadership in Online Creative Collaboration Jimmy Wales Wikipedia Blake Ross Mozilla Firefox Linus Torvalds Linux
  • 10. Leadership in Online Creative Collaboration
    • Leadership structures
      • Single project leader
        • “ Benevolent Dictator for Life” (BDFL) [Raymond 2001; Reagle 2007]
      • Council of leaders
        • Apache [Fielding 1999; Mockus et al. 2000]
    • Decentralization
      • Via automation
        • Git, Bugzilla, CVS [Ellis et al. 2007]
      • Via specialized roles
        • Linux maintainers [Weber 2004]
        • Wikipedia governance and WikiProjects [Forte et al. 2008]
  • 11. Stepping Back
    • Online creative collaboration isn’t just encyclopedia writing and software development
      • Isn’t it?
    • What about other creative activities?
      • Animation, music, web design, architecture, etc.
    • How does leadership in online creative collaboration change with the context?
      • How also must technological support change?
  • 12. Study
    • Sites
      • Three online animation communities
        • Primarily Newgrounds.com
          • Created in 1995 by Tom Fulp
          • 1,500,000+ registered members
          • 130,000+ member-contributed animations
        • Two other “satellite communities”
          • < 500 members
          • Contribute to Newgrounds.com
    • Scope
      • Focused on movie collabs
  • 13.  
  • 14.  
  • 15. Methods
    • In-depth interviewing [Seidman 2006]
      • Why?
        • Understand experiences of collab leaders
        • Descriptive account of collab production process
      • Recruitment
        • Purposeful sampling (collab participants)
        • Via discussion forums, private messages, “snowball sampling”
      • Participants
        • 14 telephone, 3 email
        • Ages: 16 to 29; all male
        • 6 countries (USA, UK, Australia, Spain, Netherlands, Estonia)
        • Real names vs. pseudonyms [Bruckman 2002]
    • Grounded theory analysis [Strauss et al. 1998]
  • 16. Methods
    • Content analysis [Lombard et al . 2002]
      • Why?
        • How many collabs result in a completed animation? How many do not? Why?
      • Content
        • All collab activity is kept public [Gutwin et al. 2004]
        • Collab threads
          • “ Screen scraping” via Python script/MySQL database
          • ~ 1,600 between Sept. 2003 to Sept. 2006
      • Criteria
        • Complete or incomplete? Why?
      • Coding
        • Performed manually by two judges
  • 17. Research Questions
    • How do people collaborate over the Internet to create animated short movies? ( i.e. , what is the “collab production process”?)
    • What challenges must leaders manage throughout the collab production process and how do leaders manage these challenges?
    • How might technology be designed to help collab leaders manage these challenges?
  • 18. Findings
    • Few collabs (<20%) are completed
    • 3 major challenges for leaders
      • Designing the project
        • Structuring, proposing
      • Managing the artists
        • Recruiting, directing, motivating, replacing
      • Completing the project
        • Integrating, publishing
  • 19. Findings
    • Few collabs (<20%) are completed
    • 3 major challenges for leaders
      • Designing the project
        • Structuring , proposing
      • Managing the artists
        • Recruiting, directing , motivating, replacing
      • Completing the project
        • Integrating , publishing
  • 20. Structuring the Project
    • Modularization and granularity [Parnas 1972; Benkler 2006]
    “ Every author on Newgrounds likes to make their own thing. You wouldn’t be able to give one person a job of storyboarding and one person a job of animating it and one person a job of recording the sound. It just wouldn’t work. People have to do their own thing on Newgrounds, so it’s a lot easier to just let them do their piece of animation and take a whole month to do it.” (Massimo Maitan)
  • 21. Structuring the Project
    • Specs
      • Technical guidelines
      • e.g. , frame rate, dimensions
    • Themes
      • Content guidelines
      • e.g. , narrative, music, visual element, event, vignette
    • Arrangements
      • Collaboration guidelines
      • Linear, continuous, nonlinear
    “ [Y]ou have to give people really concrete boundaries in terms of how to put their movie together—not the creative part, but the technical aspects of it—in order for it to succeed to begin with.” (Luis Castanon) “ If people are more free, people will come up with a huge range of ideas, and people won’t get bored over the course of the Flash. But at the same time, they’ve got to be restrictive enough so that when the Flash is put together, it works.” (Robert Westgate)
  • 22.  
  • 23.  
  • 24. Structuring the Project
    • Specs
      • Technical guidelines
      • e.g. , frame rate, dimensions
    • Themes
      • Content guidelines
      • e.g. , narrative, music, visual element, event, vignette
    • Arrangements
      • Collaboration guidelines
      • Linear, continuous, nonlinear
    “ [Y]ou have to give people really concrete boundaries in terms of how to put their movie together—not the creative part, but the technical aspects of it—in order for it to succeed to begin with.” (Luis Castanon) “ If people are more free, people will come up with a huge range of ideas, and people won’t get bored over the course of the Flash. But at the same time, they’ve got to be restrictive enough so that when the Flash is put together, it works.” (Robert Westgate)
  • 25. “ Valentine ‘29” Linear Story Collab
  • 26. “ Pass-my-Flash 2” Continuous Story Collab
  • 27. “ When Farm Animals Attack” Nonlinear Story Collab
  • 28. Directing the Artists
    • Everyone’s a volunteer
    • Authorial leadership
      • Balance authority and egalitarianism [Reagle 2007]
      • Too much
        • Artists drop out
      • Too little
        • Under-utilization
        • Collab never completed
    • Commitment
      • Leaders can’t quit
        • Creative vision doesn’t transfer
        • Logistical issues
    “ If you’re collaborating, you gotta make everybody feel like they’re a part of it. You’ve got to make them feel like it’s all their movie. Because if it’s not, then they won’t want to work on it.” (Tyler Koch) “ There have been times where people have said, ‘Yeah, you’re too bossy.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, but if I’m not bossy, you guys are never gonna get it done.’” (Ross O’Donovan) “ I don’t think of it as a position of power. I think of it as a position that enables me to…give them things to participate in.” (Joseph Rooks)
  • 29. Integrating the Animations
    • Recomposition [Grinter 1998]
    • Integration challenges
      • Aesthetic
        • Variety vs. continuity
      • Social
        • Ownership
      • Technical
        • Compilation issues
          • File size
          • Flash symbols
    “ [Variety is] one of the best parts about collaborations, different people’s art styles coming together…but it’s still important [that], like, in some way it flows.” (James Hole) “ How would you feel if someone…changed your work without telling you? It’s just…you should at least inform the person.” (Anders-Martin Meister) “ The hard thing for me, working on [collabs], is dealing with other people’s techniques and methods for making stuff.” (Tom Fulp)
  • 30.  
  • 31. Three Differences What makes collabs different from other kinds of online creative collaboration? Completion • Originality • Subjectivity
  • 32. Completion
    • Collab participants only release “finished” work
    • Wikipedia and OSS projects have multiple, frequent releases and are never completed
      • OSS: “Release early, release often” [Raymond 2001; Erenkrantz 2003]
      • Wikipedia: Public version = latest version
    “ The last thing I want to do is put out a project before it’s finished, unless I absolutely have to.” (Tyler Koch) Continuous Frequent Single Wikipedia Open Source Software Collabs
  • 33. Originality
    • Collab participants strive for originality above all else
    • Wikipedia bans original research and most OSS projects attempt to create free alternatives to existing commercial products
      • OSS: 99% of SourceForge.net projects aren’t innovative [Klincewicz 2005]
      • Wikipedia: “No original research” policy [Rosenzweig 2008]
    “ It’s gotta be something original… The best ones are usually something different, something that’s not really been done before.” (Joseph Rooks)
  • 34. Subjectivity
    • Collab participants defer to the leader’s creative vision
    • Wikipedia editors embrace both sides of an issue and OSS developers favor the “technologically superior” option
      • OSS: Operates in a “rational culture” [Yamauchi et al. 2000; Weber 2004]
      • Wikipedia: Neutral Point of View policy [Beschastnikh et al. 2008]
    “ There are so many questions to be asked about, you know, ‘What don’t you want us to do? What’s the format? Do you want a picture of a TV frame around my part or is that something that you’ll handle in post-production?’ Just being there to answer the questions is really important in something [so] complex.” (Joseph Rooks)
  • 35. Conclusion
    • Online creative collaboration is a broad phenomenon
      • Not just software development and encyclopedia writing
    • Collabs work differently from other forms of online creative collaboration (Wikipedia, OSS) that have been studied
      • Completion, Originality, Subjectivity
    • Opportunities for technology design
      • Few collabs (<20%) produce a completed animation
      • Collab leaders are crucial, but overburdened
      • Collab participants have little technological support
  • 36. Contributions
    • An empirically-grounded description of practices surrounding online creative collaboration in the open-ended problem domain of entertainment
    • A characterization of three major challenges faced by online creative collaboration leaders while creating entertainment and how they manage these challenges.
    • A discussion of these challenges vis-à-vis those faced by leaders of other forms of online creative collaboration
  • 37. What’s Next
    • Detailed content analysis of collab threads
      • “ Screen scraped” all Newgrounds.com collab threads
        • 150,000+ posts total
        • Manually coding a random sample
    • Why?
      • Determine completion rates for different types of collabs
      • Attributes of completed vs. incomplete collabs
        • What does a “likely to succeed” collab look like?
          • Leadership style, specs, arrangements, themes, etc.
      • Understand how collab structures change over time
  • 38. What’s Next
    • New tool: Sandbox
      • Web-based collaborative system for supporting online creative collaboration
      • Focus on the context of animation production
    • Two modes
      • Sandbox Planner
      • Sandbox Improv
    • Evaluation
      • Compare and contrast both Sandbox modes with existing leadership practices
      • Mixed methods
        • Log files, content analysis, and in-depth interviews
  • 39. Questions?
    • Acknowledgments
      • Interviewees, Newgrounds.com community, and Tom Fulp
      • Anonymous CSCW 2008 reviewers
      • ELC Lab, especially Sarita Yardi
      • Kelly Caine, Pam Griffith, Beki Grinter, and Shruthi Panicker, Kevin Ziegler
      • National Science Foundation
      • You (thanks for listening!)
    • Contact us
      • Kurt Luther
        • [email_address]
      • Amy Bruckman
        • [email_address]