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One of the most interesting effects of social computing is that the line between users and designers has become increasingly uncertain. Examples abound—user-generated content, rating and recommendation systems, social networking sites, open source software and easy personalization and sharing have effectively allowed users to become design partners in the creation of online experience. This panel will discuss four examples of social computing in practice, including the exercise of virtual social capital by members of the Answerbag online question-answering community, the thriving yet understudied user interactions on Wikipedia talk pages, self-regulation mechanisms of gatekeeping in virtual communities, and collaborative design practices within Second Life, a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) that is also an interactive design environment. The aim of this panel is to challenge traditional understanding of users’ role in the creation and evolution of information systems, and work toward a more realistic conceptualization of Web 2.0 users as both a source of, and a solution to, the overabundance of information created via social computing.
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