August 9: Dr. Loren Terveen

Peer Production Systems: Promise, Perils, and Paths Forward

The past 15 years have seen the emergence of a new and powerful form of knowledge production: in peer production, groups of individuals self organize to produce goods and services. Famous examples include open source software systems like Linux and Apache, Wikipedia, and OpenStreetMap. What is fascinating about peer production systems is that people just “show up” and volunteer their effort, creating social structures and technical tools that enable them to produce value.
However, more recently studies have revealed the downsides of these self-organized communities. Examples are numerous: entrenched Wikipedia editors can be hostile to newcomers, leading most newcomers to quickly give up and leave; Wikipedia content and culture appears less friendly to women than men; Wikipedia editors work on topics they care about, which may not be what Wikipedia readers are most interested in; geographic based peer production systems like OpenStreetMap have significantly better coverage of wealthy and urban areas than poorer and rural areas.
My collaborators and I have conducted many studies that uncovered these issues and identified some key underlying causes. In this talk, I trace through this history, illustrating it with many concrete examples, and conclude by describing software tools and interventions we have created and propose to address these issues. By doing so, we hope to reinvigorate and extend the promise of peer production systems, as exemplified by Wikipedia’s aim to capture the “sum of all human knowledge”.

Dr. Loren Terveen is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Computer Science at the University of Minnesota. Before joining the University of Minnesota, he received his PhD in Computer Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin, and then spent 11 years at AT&T Labs / Bell Labs. Terveen is an expert in the areas of human-computer interaction and social computing. He has published over 100 scientific papers, holds 9 patents, has advised several startup companies, consulted on intellectual property cases, and has held many leadership positions in his profession, including serving as President of ACM's Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction and on the CM Council.

Terveen's current areas of research emphasis are: peer production systems, incentive mechanisms to enhance user participation, the quantitative analysis of social media data, and geographically-based online communities. He leads projects that have: revealed new information about how valuable content is created on Wikipedia, produced and deployed new interface designs to enhance participation in online communities, developed a new location-based messaging system, combined wiki and geographical information systems technologies to create novel interfaces that let people enter and access information about places in their local communities, and created the first fully functional geographical wiki. In all his work, he seeks to use knowledge gained from empirical studies to build novel systems that solve real problems.

August 10: Dr. Regan Mandryk

Collaborative games research: Reconciling the fundamental incompatibility of the mundane realism

Games have long been used to support social interaction and create shared experiences that draw us closer together. Digital games are increasingly being used to form and maintain social relationships and researchers have been investigating the role that collaborative games play in satisfying our need for relatedness. However, collaborative games researchers must balance the tradeoff between using experimental rigor to control the environment for internal validity with the external validity of having participants feel like they are engaging in play with friends under their own volition, rather than participating in an experiment. In this talk, Mandryk will present her perspective on trying to reconcile the fundamental incompatibility of doing controlled scientific experiments in the context of collaborative play. Drawing from 15 years of experience, she will share what works, what doesn’t, and what she hopes to see in the future.

Dr. Regan Mandryk is a professor in Computer Science at the University of Saskatchewan; she pioneered the area of physiological evaluation for computer games in her Ph.D. research at Simon Fraser University with support from Electronic Arts. With over 150 publications that have been cited over 5600 times, she continues to investigate novel ways of understanding player experience in partnership with multiple industrial and international collaborators, but also develops and evaluates persuasive games, games for health, games for special populations including children with neurodevelopmental disorders, games that foster interpersonal relationships, and ubiquitous games that merge the real world with the game world. Regan has been the invited keynote speaker at several international game conferences, led Games research in the Canadian GRAND Network, organizes several international game conferences, and leads the first Canadian graduate training program on games user research (