Group project.

A comparison study of electronic brainstorming in two CMC environments

Also see here

Abstract: Second Life (SL) is an increasingly popular platform used by people with recreational, educational, as well as increasingly corporate interests. Both educators and employers have indicated certain characteristics of SL make it particularly conducive to brainstorming activities. A mixed-methods research design evaluated the difference between using SL and a standard instant messenger (IM) program for similar brainstorming tasks. Data from transcripts of four brainstorming sessions (two IM and two SL) was analyzed to evaluate the number of ideas discussed and the final number of proposed solutions to brainstorming tasks. In addition, open-ended survey questions provided further detail about each environment. Second Life use demonstrated slightly higher brainstorming productivity and was also determined to be a more casual environment, but with more distractions during the task.


Brainstorming was originated in 1953 by Osborn in his book Applied Imagination. Basically, it is a technology aiming to generate new ideas for a certain problem by a group activity. Osborn proposed that brainstorming could increase the quality and quantity of ideas generated by group members. The rules made this proposal possible are: (a) Criticism is ruled out, (b) Freewheeling is welcome, (c) Quantity is wanted, and (d) Combination and improvement are sought. However, many research results from lab experiment got the evidence for the opposite: group brainstorming generated fewer ideas than the sum individuals' brainstorming alone. Investigation had been carried on to find out the reasons for the productivity loss.

Literature shows that there are four phenomena happening in face-to-face brainstorming that affect the efficiency of generating ideas. The first is evaluation apprehension (Diehl & Stroebe, 1987; Gallupe, et. al. 1991). It results when group members are concerned that others in the group will be critical of their suggestions, in spite of instructions designed to minimize such concerns. The second is free riding (Diehl & Stroebe, 1987; Offner et. al. 1996). It occurs when individuals reduce their efforts when others in their group are performing at high levels. The third is production blocking (Diehl & Stroebe, 1987; Gallupe, et. al. 1991) which may inhibit the generation of ideas in various ways. Obviously, only one person at a time can talk effectively in a group. Individuals may forget ideas while waiting for others to state theirs or may decide not to state ideas similar to those of others. The last one is matching. Blocking and matching are in fact jointly responsible for the group productivity loss. Individual group members may either decrease or increase their performance to match the performance of others.

Electronic brainstorming is a group activity generating new ideas for a certain topic via computers (Dennis & Valacich, 1993; Dennis, et. al. 1996; Gallupe et al. 1992). The production loss observed in face-to-face settings is not common for electronic brainstorming in which participants face their own screen and interact with the group members on the other sides of the screen. The setup of electronic brainstorming prevents evaluation apprehension and blocking to be happening during the process since all the group members behave in a parallel pattern. Thus make it possible for participants develop their own ideas thoroughly. An additional advantage of this method is that all ideas can be archived electronically in their original form, and then retrieved later for further thought and discussion. The current project tends to compare electronic brainstorming activity in two computer-mediated-communication (CMC) environments: instant messenger (IM), like yahoo messenger, and Second Life (SL).

The communication between two or more humans who are physically apart through a modern communication medium tends to have very unique characteristics that are different from those in interpersonal communication. CMC, however, includes much wider range of human activities rather than referring to a human communication enabled through the Internet.

A great number of different definitions on CMC are possible due to the characteristic of multi-dimensional human activities with many other entities. December (1997) for example, defined the CMC as "a process of human communication via computers, involving people, situated in particular contexts, engaging in processes to shape media for a variety of purposes." In general, CMC refers to many human related activities from mere interpersonal communication to task-related one. Also CMC includes communication with mainframe computer with both synchronous and asynchronous communication (Ferris, 1997).

CMC includes many types of communications such as e-mail, video, audio or text chat (text conferencing including IM), bulletin boards, list-servs and MMOs. Researchers studied individual adoption of Instant Message finding many interesting factors (de Vos, ter Hofte, de Poot, & Instituut, 2004). Also the communication patterns with Instant Messenger among teenagers were studied (Boneva, Quinn, Kraut, Kiesler, & Shklovski, in press).

SL is a 3-D virtual world constructed entirely by its participants. Its growth in recent years has been explosive and it has been adopted in a variety of arenas including corporate, government, education, and entertainment. John Anderton, the leader of Project Fulcrum (an initiative to advance public health using new media) at the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), commented about SL that "I came to see this neither a fad nor a game, but as a social movement and a glipse into the future of social interaction, learning and even being" (Weinreich, 2006).

The primary advantage identified by users is what is called presence. Thought other technologies facilitate a presence, or sorts, SL presence is markedly different. It is better at facilitating a sense of community where users do not feel alone (Lamb, 2006).

The nature of second life leads to a more relaxed environment for interaction, a characteristic held in high regard by corporate interests and academics alike. Students who have used SL for classes indicate that it stretches the imagination and grows creativity (Lamb, 2006), and faculty indicate that the ability to change the context of conversations can allow very casual environments when useful (e.g. having class in a virtual hot tub!).

Educationally, SL is increasingly popular. More than 70 universities have their own islands (Olsen, 2007). Students regularly indicate that they feel like that have gathered for an actual class. Faculties indicate that diversity increases by interacting with the different nationality, religions, and sociopolitical groups in SL (Lamb, 2006). And, collaborative 3D learning is particularly useful in teaching CAD (Keiran, 2007). Medical scenarios have been role-played in educational setting, whereby students experience the same scenes in a medical clinic from multiple perspectives (Antonacci & Modaress, 2005).

The Study

The purpose of this pilot study was to determine whether SL provided a better environment for brainstorming than standard IM software. A mixed-method design was used to examine the number of ideas discussed and the final number of proposed solutions to brainstorming tasks in SL and IM. In addition, open-ended survey questions provided further detail about each environment. Six graduate students participated in SL and IM brainstorming sessions in two groups of three; each group brainstormed once in SL and once using IM, with two tasks switched between environments, and order switched between groups (e.g. one group started with IM, the other with SL). The first task asked participants to “brainstorm the top ways ensure success as a graduate student” and the second to “brainstorm the top suggestions you have to make the SL environment better.” One researcher served as facilitator in each brainstorming session. The groups were given 20 minutes to complete each task and another 20 minutes to answer six open-ended survey questions upon completion of the two brainstorming tasks. The first group performed all activities one after the other from their respective homes during the evening. The second group performed their first task, then waited three hours before the second, and then answered the survey questions within a few hours after that. The second group was also in the same room during both brainstorming tasks.


Transcripts from the four brainstorming sessions were coded for unique ideas discussed and final proposed solutions to the brainstorming tasks. One researcher independently coded the transcripts to determine the number of ideas discussed and the proposed as answers to the task. The data from all four sessions are shown below in Table 1.

Table 1

SL versus IM Brainstorming Sessions


Group 1 – SL Task Ideas discussed 11

Solutions provided 5

Group 1 – Grad Task Ideas discussed 8

Solutions provided 5

Group 2 – SL Task Ideas discussed 14

Solutions provided 5

Group 2 – Grad Task Ideas discussed 17

Solutions provided 6

The data demonstrates that in both groups, the SL environment facilitated more ideas discussed (Group 1 11 to 8, Group 2 17 to 14). However, the number of solutions provided is nearly identical across all tasks and environments. It should also be noted that Group 2 produced more ideas than did Group 1.

In addition, survey data were analyzed for similarities across all six participants. Five indicated that SL felt more casual. Five also reported distractions in SL, with only one distraction reported for IM. Three reported that the success of the sessions was based on the task itself, not environment, and two specifically indicated IM was more successful because of the distractions in SL. Five indicated that is was easier to follow their group-mates ideas in IM (in all cases indicating that the fact the IM typing stays on the screen in an easily reviewed format was the key feature to facilitate this, whereas SL history is more difficult to work with). And, participants reported mixed feedback when asked to list difference between SL/IM and face-to-face brainstorming. SL and IM were reported as better for brainstorming because everything was recorded and archived, which enable them to concentrate better on the task than face-to-face and the propensity for face-to-face to become more social. Detrimental elements report for online brainstorming included more off-task behavior, the interference of typing, the absence of facial cues, and the difficulty in clarifying ideas as well as face-to-face.


According to our coding analysis, more ideas were generated in SL sessions. However, according to survey answers, IM session was more successful. This may highlight the difference between success (participants may have inferred this to mean “better” ideas) and statistical measures which are essentially productivity metrics (the total number of ideas considered and proposed). Another interesting disconnect is that all participants indicated that SL is more casual, but indicated IM was more successful. This directly contradicts the anecdotal evidence from SL users in corporate and educational settings that the casual environment in SL facilitates creativity. This likely has to do with our other findings that SL has multiple distractions, and that its inferior history mechanism made it less useful.

Though statistical significance cannot be determined, the trend that SL facilitates more productive (higher number of ideas) idea generation is notable and worth further research. Another interesting, but unintended, observation from the quantitative data is that the total number of ideas submitted by each group as the final answers to tasks were nearly identical (three with 5 and another with 6). This finding may indicate a cognitive capacity issue more so than environmental conditions, and would be worth comparing to the number of ideas submit in other open-ended brainstorming activities.

The current study has weaknesses that will need to be addressed in future research. First, survey results indicated that our participants were much more comfortable with IM usage. In further studies, ability or history of use statistics for both environments might be useful in mediating this confound. Also, the second group performed their task in the same room, whereas the first group was at home and in separate locations. Observationally, the first group lead a more serious discussion, and the second more casual, and susceptible to off-task behavior (e.g. laughing), though interestingly, the total quantity of ideas discussed in the second group was much higher. Finally, the topics may not have been equivalent, in that several survey results indicated a preference for one over another.


Antonacci, D. M. & Modaress, N (2005). The educational possibilities of a massively multiplayer virtual world. Retrieved march 27, 2007 from http://www2.kumc.edu/tlt/SLEDUCAUSESW2005/SLPresentationOutline.htm

Boneva, B. S., Quinn, A., Kraut, R. E., Kiesler, S., & Shklovski, I. (in press) Teenage Communication in the Instant Messaging Era.

de Vos, H., ter Hofte, H., de Poot, H., & Instituut, T. (2004). IM [@ work] adoption of instant messaging in a knowledge worker organisation. System Sciences, 2004. Proceedings of the 37th Annual Hawaii International Conference on, 19-28.

December, J. (1997). The World Wide Web 1997 unleashed: Sams Net.

Dennis, A. R., & Valacich, J. S. (1993). Computer brainstorms: More heads are better than one. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78, 531-537.

Dennis, A. R., Valacich, J. S., Connolly, T., & Wynne, B. E. (1996). Process structuring in electronic brainstorming. Information Systems Research, 7, 268–277.

Diehl, M., & Stroebe, W. (1987). Productivity loss in brainstorming groups: Toward the solution of a riddle. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 497–509.

Ferris, S. P. (1997). What is CMC? an Overview of Scholarly Definitions [Electronic Version] from http://www.december.com/cmc/mag/1997/jan/ferris.html.

Gallupe, R. B., Bastianutti, L. M., & Cooper, W. H. (1991). Unblocking brainstorms. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76, 137-142.

Gallupe, R. B., Dennis, A. R., Cooper, W. H., Valacich, J. S., Bastianutti, L. M., & Nunamaker, J. F., Jr. (1992). Electronic brainstorming and group size. Academy Management Journal, 35, 350-369.

Kieran, C. (2007). Second Life and google earth are transforming the idea of architectural collaboration. Architectural Record. Retrieve March 27, 2007 from http://archrecord.construction.com/features/digital/archives/0701dignews-2.asp

Lamb, G. (2006). At colleges, real learning in a virtual world. USA Today. Retrieved March 27, 2007 from http://www.usatoday.com/tech/gaming/2006-10-05-second-life-class_x.htm

Offner, A. K., Kramer, T. J., & Winter, J. P. (1996). The effects of facilitation, recording, and pauses on group brainstorming. Small Group Research, 27, 283–298.

Olson, S. (2007). Universities register for virtual future. CNET News.com. Retrieved March 27, 2007 from http://news.com.com/2100-1032_3-6157088.html?part=rss&tag=2547-1_3-0-20&subj=news

Osborn, A. F. (1957). Applied imagination: Principles and procedures of creative problem-solving. New York: Scribner's.

Wienrich, N. (2006). The CDC’s Second Life. Spare Change, 11.01.06. Retrieved March 27, 2007 from


Individualized technology immersion assignment

If not online for education, what do online forums mean to you?

For the individual immersion project, I chose to participate in public online forums (OFs) to experience the difference in public OFs from those used in courses. This meets the course requirement of new technology and social interaction because even though the experience of lurking as guest in OFs is not new to me, it is totally new for me to really involve actively as a member of certain OF that I am interested in. Or in anther sense I was not actively involve in any public OF before. I know it sounds like "What?" But it is the fact. Actually, the experience was pretty well developed.

OFs are systems where members of the forum participate in discussion of different threads within a general common interest asynchronously. Different formats of OFs have been widely applied by different groups of people for different fields (education, commerce, hobbies, news, life). The activities in OFs can be categorized into three camps: learning (like the OFs for foreign languages study, or for any course or training program), socialization, or information sharing (like shopping OFs). The activities in one specific forum can focus on one or more camps of the three. Participants have different psychological experiences in OF discussion.

There are many different forms of OFs. People can easily see them in any OF websites, online courses, online shopping websites (such as www.ebay.com, www.circuitcity.com or www.bestbuy.com), subsections of some personal or group website (such as blogger, myspace, or wiki), or even wikipedia (I list wikipedia only because individuals can freely revise the content of certain entry in an interactive manner, but wikipedia can only qualify as a form of OF under the situation in which a strong sense of online community is not a criteria of OFs).

I have been using OFs in Angel for different courses. I am, like other students in the College of Education, a good sample for mainstream research on OF application on online education or hybrid courses that use OFs as part of the pedagogy or supportive system associated with different learning materials. But the experiences are highly structured by the instructors and are dominated by intensive responding to the assigned readings or other learning materials. There is limited freedom regard to the content because of the focus of the course.

What the scholars say?
Many researchers have shown interests in OFs. Most of the research has been focused on OFs for educative purposes for college students learning and professionals’ development. The activities studied are mainly related to learning experiences and collaboration. Many researchers use social constructive perspective to interpret the behaviors in OFs.

Successful employment of online forums can foster a knowledge building community in which desired student qualities are cultivated.
-- Qing Li. (2004)

In 1999, the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) reported that in the US, 58% of all post-secondary institutions offered Internet-based courses. Further, 82% reported that they had plans to increase their Internet-based offerings over the next three years. Obviously, it is safe to estimate that more than 80% of the colleges and universities in the US are now applying internet-based courses. OFs are one of the main components of any form of the online courses. Muilenburg and Berge (2000) argued that most distance courses rely on online forums. Anderson and Kanuka (1997) argued, based on their research of OF application for professional development, OF has a very good chance to be adopted “as an effective and functional means of consultation and collaborative work with professionals”.

Some good things about OFs application in courses include that OF can potentially promote problem solving, critical thinking, knowledge construction, higher order thinking (Hannafin et. al., 1999), and collaboration. In professional development, OF has the value of “enhancing networking opportunities” and “contributing to continuing education for professionals” (Anderson & Kanuka, 1997). The main communication format in OF is text. McCreary (1990) suggested that the text-based communication in OFs has the quality of exactness, organization of thought, and clear expression. Scardamalia and Bereiter (1994) argued that social interaction is the heart of collaborative knowledge-building communities. This idea can be applied in both educative and public OFs.

However, there are certain limitations for the educative application of OFs. For example, Palloff and Pratt (1999) discussed that the best size for an OF group is between five to fifteen participants. This is quite a limited number and is only applicable for learning purpose.

What are the differences in my eyes of courses OFs vs. public OFs?
Public OFs are not directed by any single authority. The content for both the topics and the discussion/response is not limited as long as they are related to the focus of the OF. Of course most of the OFs forbid any content of personal offense, politics, or pornography. Compared with OFs applied for educational purposes, there are some other differences that I have noticed of for public OFs based on my experience in this semester. This list can be extended based on different angles of observation.

  • Different structure: almost all the OFs used in courses have a facilitator (either the instructors themselves or a person who is assigned by the instructor to do so to guide the discussion). On the contrary, none of the public OFs has any form of a facilitator at any time to direct the development of discussion.
  • Different motivation: The activities on public OFs are totally voluntary for participants, including both time and energy. The participation is not required by any authority. Participants normally are driven by their personal interests or curiosity to start their membership in a certain OF and remain active in the OF. Intrinsic motivation is dominant in this situation. However, extrinsic motivation, such as getting the credits or meeting the course requirement is not uncommon for OF application in online courses.
  • Different interaction model: the threads in public OFs are always developed like this: original post (OP) (or quoted post from other sources) --> responses (content is just brief messages of either support for the OP or disagreement with the OP). Compared with public OFs, OFs integrated in courses have similar format for the model of OP --> responses. But the actual model is more accurate like this: Original opinion (OO) (could be either question or discussion of poster's opinion toward certain learning materials) --> response (answer to the question or more discussion based on the OO) --> New opinion (NO) --> response.
  • Different participants: people with similar interests from all over the country or the world form the population of different public OFs. But, there is only limited number of participants (normally classmates or cohort in an academic program, or employees from the same organization.) involved in OFs for courses.
  • Different duration: public OFs are active all the time (24/7) unless the number of participants decreases to a critical point that lead to the shutdown of the forum. On the contrary, the longest duration for OFs used in a course could be no more than one semester (about 16 weeks).
  • Different function: most of the public OFs are places where participants share information instead of opinions. But the online courses OFs are used mainly for opinion exchange and development.
  • Different dynamic: the behaviors of participants are regulated by "online police" or authorities (or moderators) formed by volunteers in the forum who have more experiences and longer history on the forum. On the contrary, the behaviors of OFs for courses are regulated by instructors.
  • Different content knowledge: in public OFs, the expertise of the participants' content knowledge varies depends on different discussion topics. But for the online courses, the instructors are always the ones who have wider and deeper knowledge for the content of the course.
  • Different communication tactics: any active public OF is an online community. There is certain climate formed by the participants and developed in to socialization tactics that any new participants need to learn and get used to. But this is not an obvious feature for any OF used in a course because the limited interaction, topics, and duration make it not possible to develop any interior communication tactics. In public OFs, participants may apply real life tactics in forming the tactics for their online community. But participants for OFs in courses do not have enough time to develop any tactics. The strict structures of OFs in courses is also a barrier in this case.

My experiences
I chose two OFs for this course assignment. An OF for Chinese cuisine and the other OF for child development/education. Both OFs are in Chinese. The OF for cuisine Chinese food has its server located in the US and maintained by Chinese here in the US. The OF for child development/education has its server located in China and is maintained by Chinese in China. I started my experience in the OF about Chinese cuisine early in this semester by accident and the OF about child development/education in the middle of the semester after I decided to focus on OF as the technology to explore for the course assignment. Before that I was thinking about online games and the software called Klipfolio. I do not like to play games for a long time and later figured out that the new technology is not just new technology, it has to do with online socialization or networking. So I decide to experience OFs. That is when I participated in the child development/education OF.

Outcome may vary depending on the purpose of participation
In my experience, the major purpose of my participation is to acquire information and to share opinions. There is actually very little socialization happening in a sense that I don't know some members through postings and responses, or that I developed a circle of acquaintance during my participating the OF. I am pretty much focusing on the content of postings on both OFs. The content of both topics is the reason why I chose these two forums to play with. I am more intrinsically motivated to know more and thus participate more. For the Chinese food forum, most participants are from the US (I can tell from their posting in which they always mention some information of their life in the US). Like most of other participants in this forum, I am interested in learning how to cook some special treat or well-known Chinese dishes including wok dishes and bakery. I am confident to say that I am a good cook. My cooking skills should be a result from my fathers cooking experiences from which I have learned a lot. But the more I can cook, the more motivated I am to learn more cooking styles and ways to cook a wider variety of Chinese dishes. That for me is a hobby. Whenever I have time to cook, I feel relaxed and happy. Don't mention people's good comments after they tasted my dishes. Anyway, I am there on the Chinese food OF for more information. For the child development/education OF, I am motivated as a father. Also I want to keep on track with education practice in China since I have the plan to at least keep my daughter on track with her Chinese correspondents. Again, I am there for information.

However, I think there could be different experience if any individual join an OF for socialization which is well admitted by many OFers. Anther point is that because of the content of different forums, the targeted population varies. And populations with different interests or background may have different purposes for joining OFs. For example, Kummervold, et. al. (2002) studied online mental health forums in Norway. They said that participants in this case perceived OF as a supplement of traditional mental health services. A clear majority on the OFs wants professionals to take an active role in the forums. The responses from the participants implied that online interaction in OFs might have “unique benefits for people suffering from mental disorders”.

Compared with OFs for courses, I found the experiences of public OFs are more casual. Because there is not tightly structured time schedule, I can participate in discussion at any time based on my convenience. There is no pressure of right or wrong about your postings. Thus there is much less pressure (at least I did not notice any) from being afraid of being criticized by other participants. I responded in a way of free writing with less structured language used. Things that make me have this casual feeling include but not limited to: online language, information sharing without fear of hard critics, and the shared interests which have the power to make one’s life more colorful and enjoyable. For languages, even though I chose Chinese based OFs for this assignment, there are widely used abbreviations in letters (representing either English words or pinyin abbreviations) such as, for English, FYI, DIY, BF/GF, OP, Cong, or for pinyin, LG/LP (husband/wife), LZ (original post), or even hybrid like 3X (thanks). The less pressure climate really makes me feel that I am learning from fun. I enjoyed both getting new information or opinions and discussing my ideas to build up the idea package for the public forums.

Extrinsic motivation
Other than the intrinsic motivations I mentioned above, there are extrinsic motivations developed from the setting of the OFs. I have been engaged in earning more points and getting to higher level of experiences – a sense of achievement. I have been thinking what is the difference between OFs and online games regarding to spending time and energy to get to higher level of the "game". Physically, participants of OFs and gamers are very similar when they spend many hours engaging in the online activities to achieve certain goals.

Culture differences
For this assignment, I only participated in Chinese forums. But there are certain commonalities shared by Chinese forums and US forums, like the pattern of interaction, the design or the structure of the OFs. But there are noticeable differences. I am still not comfortable (or communication competent?) to take part in the US public OFs. One of the main reasons is that I need to get more comfortable in talking with Americans online. This fact indicates that there may be different tactics Americans adopted from their real life to OFs that I am still not skillful enough to handle.

Sense of responsibility for accurate sources and copyright
There is an interesting finding that there is certain number of participants who are very sensitive to whom the original poster of ideas is or what is the original source of some postings. These people are active in giving the credits back to the original posters/sources. And this kind of activities get support widely from other participants. And there is a tendency that participants consciously maintain the "copyright" or "intellectual property rights"
of other participants or information sources.

Other outcome
Another outcome for me is the motivation to design my own public OF for the focus I and others are interested in based on the perception of public ideas. This interest is ignited by my experience of participating in the OFs. This helps me to develop motivation to increase my technology competency in programming skills necessary for OF development, such as php, xml or MySQL. This may, from another angle, show that OFs is a welcomed form of information source for people to share, to bond, or just have fun? At least it works for me.

Anderson, T., & kauka, H. (1997). On-line Forums: New platforms for professional development and group collaboration. ERIC. Retrived April 20, 2007, from

Hannafin, M., Land, S., & Oliver, K. (1999). Open learning environments: Foundations, methods, and models. In Reigeluth, C. M. (ed.), Instructional-design theories and models (Vol. II). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Kummervold, P. E., Gammon, D., Bergvik, S., Johnsen, J. K., Hasvold, T., & Rosenvinge, J. H. (2002). Social support in a wired world: Use of online mental health forums in Norway. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 56 (1), 59 – 65. Retrieved on April 20, 2007, from http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a713796860~db=all

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Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1994). Computer support for knowledge building communities. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 3, 265-283.


Reflection for the 15th week.

Reading list:
1. Koster, R. (2004). A theory of fun for game design: What games aren't. Gamasutra, December 3.
2. Gee, J. P. (2004). Learning by design: Games as learning machines. Gamasutra, March, 24
3. Garneau, P-A. (2001). Fourteen Forms of Fun. Gamasutra, October 12.
4. Prensky, M. (2001). Fun, Play and Games: What Makes Games Engaging. Chapter 5 in Digital Game Based Learning. NY: McGraw Hill. (From the author's website)
5. Falstein, N. (2004). Natural funativity. Gamasutra, November 10.

Koster, R. (2004).

Kowster 's article is not colorful as the other pieces. He focused on a limited model of game: superficial graphical pattern vs. abstract logic underneath. In his discussion, fun is an important element of games. But he did not really develop fun and game in a harmonious pattern to help readers understand his points. To Koster, fun is an abstract that is hard to be defined, and fun is a phenomenon. He kind of discussed that fun is contextual. It will happen when several elements get in the right place: right time, attitude, engagement, etc. He also discussed that fun is a result of evolutionary process. However, his ideas about fun were spreaded widely but only circling around the periphery of the issue. What is fun is not clear in the first place in the article. I think this is actually the bottom line of this article without which it is hard to understand the author's stand.

Gee, J. P. (2004).

It is a fact that many individuals keep purchasing new video games. this article was trying to understand the question how do good game designers manage to get new players to learn long, complex, and difficult games? On one hand, some good games seem to be designed only for adept gamers. This is an explanation only helps us see a certain part of all gamers, old and new. On the other hand, the answer could be good games' designers applied profoundly good methods of getting people to learn and to enjoy learning. The author argued that under the right conditions, learning is biologically motivating and pleasurable for humans. Then, the author applied a list of good principles of learning that have been built into good games (computer and video) to explain, with examples of real video games, the practice of learning in games. In the end, the author discussed his observation that very few educational games apply the principles of learning. On the contrary, non-educational games for the young are using many good principles. This debate is worth to be extended to the administrators and researchers.

Garneau, P-A. (2001).

The goal of this article is to make a complete list of entertaining activities, forms of fun, at present in order to provide a tool kit for game designers. Garneau suggested that effective game design is the result of mixed forms. But combination of too many of these forms may do the opposite. It is a matter of balance. I tried to classify these fourteen forms of fun using the categories proposed by Falstein. Physical fun: Physical Activity, Competition, Application of an Ability, Immersion; Social fun: Love, Social Interaction, Comedy(?), Power; Mental fun/psychological fun: Immersion, Intellectual Problem Solving, Thrill of Danger, Creation, Advancement and Completion, Beauty, Discovery, Competition. There are a couple of forms classified repeatedly into different categories.

  • Beauty: That which pleases the senses
  • Immersion: Going into an environment different from one's usual environment by physical means or by use of one's imagination
  • Intellectual Problem Solving: Finding solutions to problematic situations that require thought
  • Competition: An activity where the goal is to show one's superiority
  • Social Interaction: Doing things with other human beings
  • Comedy: Things that make one want to laugh
  • Thrill of Danger: Exhilaration coming from a dangerous activity
  • Physical Activity: Activities requiring intense physical movements
  • Love: Strong affection toward somebody
  • Creation: To make exist that which didn't
  • Power: Capacity of having a strong effect, of acting with strength
  • Discovery: Finding something that wasn't known before
  • Advancement and Completion: Going forward in, and eventually finishing, an activity
  • Application of an Ability: Using one's physical abilities in a difficult setting

Prensky, M. (2001).

Like Garneau, Prensky also developed a list of elements that make video games engaging.

  • Games are a form of fun. That gives us enjoyment and pleasure.
  • Games are form of play. That gives us intense and passionate involvement.
  • Games have rules. That gives us structure.
  • Games have goals. That gives us motivation.
  • Games are interactive. That gives us doing.
  • Games are adaptive. That gives us flow.
  • Games have outcomes and feedback. That gives us learning.
  • Games have win states. That gives us ego gratification.
  • Games have conflict/competition/challenge/opposition. That gives us adrenaline.
  • Games have problem solving. That sparks our creativity.
  • Games have interaction. That gives us social groups.
  • Games have representation and story. That gives us emotion.

In addition to this list he pushed further to relate the observation with learning and work. Like most of the articles for this week, Prensky focused on fun and play. He defined fun as the great motivator. The role of fun in the learning process is to create relaxation and motivation. Relaxation enables a learner to take things in more easily, and motivation enables them to put forth effort without resentment. He argued play as the universal teacher. Work and play are always overlapping with each other. Learning (children): similar to Falstein, Prensky applied the evolutionary view in understanding play. "Play is our brain's favorite way of learning things". Work (adult): more play will improve our learning and performance; making work playful reduces stress, and actually increases productivity.

How to transfer the abstract fun and play into actual experience through digital games is the central focus of this article. Prensky proposed six structural elements of games based on which the games can be engaging. Rules: are what differentiate games from other kinds of play; Goals or Objectives: differentiate games from other types of play, as well as from other non-goal-oriented games; Outcomes and Feedback: are how you measure your progress against the goals; Conflict/competition/challenge/opposition: are the problems in a game you are trying to solve; Interaction: interaction of the player and the computer vs interaction with other people (inherently social aspect). Representation: means the game is about something.

For the rest of this chapter, Prensky touched on wide topics on digital games comprehensively. He discussed different forms of interactivities (toys, narrative stories, and tools), talked about categories of games (Action Games, Adventure Games, Fighting Games, Puzzle games, Role Playing Games, Simulation Games, Sports Games Strategy), listed principles of good computer game designs (balance, creation, focus, character, tension, and energy). Then he discussed aspects that are affecting engagement of digital games (the rationale for this part is still to help designers for good game design): culture, age, gender, violence, language (or genre?).

Falstein, N. (2004).

Palstein saw the question of what makes a game fun as an elusive and subjective one. To answer this question, Falstein took an approach finding the underlying root of humans' fun. He tracked back to ancient time and even earlier to find evidence from human revolution. His point is that all human entertainment, including games, has a central premise of learning about survival and reproduction and the necessary associated social rules and behaviors. This learning is a life-long activity for humans, especially in the "modern fast-changing global culture". He classified humans’ fun into four categories (physical, social, mental, and blended). "By tying game play to these key aspects of hunting, gathering, exploration, social interaction and status, and pattern perception we can capture the interest of large numbers of players and make games more fun". Falstein tied his discussion with applying the fun theory, natural funactivity, into game concepts. Basically, I find this approach of understanding both gamers’ behaviors and game design reasonable and easy to master.

Focus question:
What are the possible reason(s) why more people do not play digital games?

It is necessary to see what kinds of people play games. To talk about gamers, there are people who are addictive to games, including the game fans and people who have video games as the most important entertainment in their life. There are also people who just occasionally play some games just for killing time. As we read and discussed, people play video games for fun. The video games are attractive and challenging. For those online games, gamers may also play for socializing, but not necessary. The population who play games has certain common characteristics. Here I try a couple of them. I do not have evidence to support my argument. My points are developed from my observation. So it might be biased, in which case more discussion might be generated. One characteristic is the majority people in the gamers' population are in young age: children, teenagers, and college students. The other characteristics is that they can afford to play: time (they have plenty of time) and money (sometimes money is not that important since there are many cheap or free games).

However, the fact is there are more people who do not play video games regularly than those who do. People who do not play games regularly do not possess either of the two characteristics mentioned above. These could count for two reasons. The third one, I think, could be people in this camp actually find that real life activities, sports, party, reading, movie, traveling, etc, are much more entertaining and have more fun than video games which is in-door activity and/or require to sit still for a long time, etc.

My questions from the readings and questions for Discussion in class:
1. From readings we can see professions have been thinking deeply about how to generate good concepts for games and design good games. Is there any case study of research testing those elements or principles in designing educational games? What are some limitations?

2. Is there any statistical information of the distribution of the gamers? What are some common features they share, like age, profession, education background, socio-economic status?


Reflection for the 14th week.

Reading list:
1. Avery, A. (2005). Beyond P-1: Who plays online?. Digital Games Research Association 2005 Conference: Changing views- worlds in play, Vancouver, 16 - 20 June 2005, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Digital Games Research Association.
2. Paras, B., & Bizzocchi, J. (2005). Game, motivation, and effective learning: An integrated model for educational game design. Digital Games Research Association 2005 Conference: Changing views- worlds in play, Vancouver, 16 - 20 June 2005, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Digital Games Research Association.
3. Yee, N. (2007). Motivations of play in online games. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 9, 772-775.

Avery, A. (2005). There is a wide range of phenomena that need to be discovered for the impacts and roles of virtual games in people's life, behavior, and social construct, both offline and online. Alix focused on serious gamers of online games. He wanted to understand what actual elements of video games that people like (I think this is more useful for game developers/designers than educational researchers) and what kind of games people play most. Then people could know what kind of preference gamers hold when they play games and help to predict the games they like or dislike. Because of the way they collected data, the study only reflected people who play games regularly (from two hours per week to 25 hours per week). the findings could also be used to predict the characteristics and preference for players who do not regularly play games. As summarized by Alix, there first four popular archetypes of gamers were Warriors (like to fight in combat and other military themes), Narrators (like to imagine and think), Strategists (like to play with complex strategies and master over game and other players), and Interactors (like to compete and cooperate with other players).

However, as Mike mentioned in the forum, even one possesses many characteristics of a gamer, he or she could still not be a gamer because of many other reasons, such as motivation, attitude toward games, and personal experiences, etc. This fact reflects the limitation of this study. The reasons of the limitation could be the population the research tried to study. Or the limited research method which only depends on self-reflection of individuals.

Paras, B., & Bizzocchi, J. (2005).
Paras and Bizzocchi, on the other hand, took the path of the motivations of gamers and tried to integrate their findings with a model of educational game design. They focused on the flow theory and reflection on learning process. They proposed a sequence to discuss how learning happens via gaming: games, play, flow, motivation, and learning. In this sequence, motivation is the joint of gaming and potential learning. On the other hand, the authors talked about active learning phenomena that could link gaming with learning. Reflection based on active learning is not new and has been well discussed and learned by researchers. However, the essay is soft in discussing the possible explanation of how games could be designed to meet educational purpose. It is good to link flow, motivation, and reflection with gaming experiences. But without solid research on the topic and the model, valuable and valid issue of this model will be remained questionable.

Yee, N. (2007).
Yee's essay also talked about motivation issue in gaming. The essay started from the fact that millions of players are active in MMORPGs daily. Obviously, this is a phenomenon deserving more understanding and modeling. Yee applied factor analysis method developing a motivation model for gamers. A sample of 3000 MMORPGs' players were selected for this study and a forty questions survey was conducted for data collection. Yee classified the motivations into ten subcomponents (Advancement, Mechanics, Competition; Socializing, Relationship, Teamwork; Discovery, Role-playing, Customization, Escapism.) under three main theme: Achievement, Social, and Immersion. Besides, Yee also discovered the demographic variables (age, gender, and usage patterns) and their relationship with motivation. Male players scored significantly higher on Achievement while female scored significantly higher on Relationship. The pattern study also confirmed that the pre-existing depression or mood disorder are common among users who develop problematic usage with online games.

Focus question:
How does your gaming demographic and your reasons for playing fit in with the research?

I think my current experience only deals with participating virtual community, such as forum, but gaming and it does not have any educational purpose embedded. To answer this question, I can only reflect from my former experience with video games. The games I played were offline ones. So there is definitely no "social" motivations related. I see my case could fit in either stereotypes of "warrior" or "strategist" depends on the games I played. Or, if applied the model of Yee, I may fit more in Achievement. For the gaming demographic, my case support Yee's finding that Male players scored significantly higher on Achievement.

My questions from the readings and questions for Discussion in class:
1. In Paras and Bizzocchi's article, they mentioned "Looking at the 'effort' expelled during the learning process will help determine whether learners are motivated." By using "effort", did the authors mean the energy and time the players put into gaming? or something else?
2. Still in the same article, the authors mentioned "While in flow state, the learner is completely motivated to push their skills to the limit." I just wonder is this push-to-limit always happen when individuals experience flow? Is this push-to-limit phenomenon necessary in flow experience?


Reflection for the 13th week.

Reading list:

Rosen, D., Woelfel, J., Krikorian, D., & Barnett, G. A. (2003). Procedures for Analyses of Online Communities. JCMC, 8 (4). Available at http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol8/issue4/rosen.html

Williams, D. (2006). On and off the 'net: Scales for social capital in an online era. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(2), article 11.

Ling, k., Beenen, G., Ludford, P., Wang, X., Change, K., Li, X., Cosley, D. Frakowski, D., Terveen, L., Rashid, A.M., Resnick, P., & Kraut, R. (2005). Using Social Psychology to Motivate Contributions to Online Communities. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 10(4).

Rosan, et. al. (2003)
This paper started with a comprehensive review of research methods scholars have been using to study online communities on social aspects and structure of online interaction, spatial movement, nature of users' coordination, impression, and emotions. Rosen et. al. studied the phenomena of online non-threaded interaction, specifically chat-room conversation. The tool they used for the study is Catpac(TM) package. They chose SciCenter, a three-dimension online environment, to carry out their study. the purpose of SciCenter is to provide cyberspace playground for teens to create knowledge space in after-school programs. Data showed that mentor for the conversation dominated the interaction. According to the semantic network analysis, there was obvious gender difference in the content of chatting record. But one thing was shared by both males and females participants: their interest in scientific research seems to increase in three-dimension virtual world.

Williams (2006)
Noticing that the Internet accomodates different way of social interaction with a parallel and conjunct manner with offline life, Williams proposed a framework based on social capital (SC) to measure bridging and bonding for online and offline contexts. The scale he introduced was Internet Social Capital Scale, or ISCS. In this study, Williams treated social capital as outcome. In this article, Williams criticized that the perception and research approach for old media like TV is not applicable to Internet which is interactive and mobile in nature as a communication channel. Williams developed a two-dimension scale pairing bridging & bonding, and online & offline. He used criteria based on Putnam's work (2000) to develop bridging SC measurement. The criteria are: 1)
outward looking; 2) contact with a broader range of people; 3) a view of oneself as part of a broader group; 4) diffuse reciprocity with a broader community. Also he discussed criteria used for developing bonding SC measurement as: 1) emotional support; 2) access to scarce or limited resources; 3) ability to mobilize solidarity; 4) out-group antagonism. Here is the list of final scale item (* adapted from Cohen & Hoberman, 1983).

Bonding Subscale

1. There are several people online/offline I trust to help solve my problem.*

2. There is someone online/offline I can turn to for advice about making very important decisions.*

3. There is no one online/offline that I feel comfortable talking to about intimate personal problems. (reversed)*

4. When I feel lonely, there are several people online/offline I can talk to.

5. If I needed an emergency loan of $500, I know someone online/offline I can turn to.*

6. The people I interact with online/offline would put their reputation on the line for me.

7. The people I interact with online/offline would be good job references for me.

8. The people I interact with online/offline would share their last dollar with me.

9. I do not know people online/offline well enough to get them to do anything important. (reversed)

10. The people I interact with online/offline would help me fight an injustice.

Bridging Subscale

1. Interacting with people online/offline makes me interested in things that happen outside of my town.

2. Interacting with people online/offline makes me want to try new things.

3. Interacting with people online/offline makes me interested in what people unlike me are

4. Talking with people online/offline makes me curious about other places in the world.

5. Interacting with people online/offline makes me feel like part of a larger community.

6. Interacting with people online/offline makes me feel connected to the bigger picture.

7. Interacting with people online/offline reminds me that everyone in the world is connected.

8. I am willing to spend time to support general online/offline community activities.

9. Interacting with people online/offline gives me new people to talk to.

10. Online/Offline, I come in contact with new people all the time.

Williams proved the validity and reliability of the scales by using a sample of 884 volunteers dominated by white males across the US. Williams discussed that the entry and exit SC cost for all Internet communities is relatively lower than offline ones. This help to partially explain why people turn to online community. At the end Williams proposed some potential problems that ISCS can help to explore, such as Do online groups provide the same kinds of psychological, emotional, and practical support as their real-world counterparts, even without the power of face-to-face interactions? Do Internet users feel the kinds of reciprocal bonds that would lead them to contribute to their online communities?

Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Cohen, S., & Hoberman, H. M. (1983). Positive events and social supports as buffers of life change stress. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 13 (2), 99-125.

Ling, et. al. (2005)
Ling et. al. investigated the contribution for online communities using social psychological theories, especially social loafing and goal-setting. I agree with their vision that online activities are part of social phenomena. Social
psychology is primarily a behavioral science. Its goal is to determine unambiguously the causes for social phenomena and explain them. I think this article started with a strong rationale to interpret the phenomena of online communities with social psychological lens. This current study was an integration of four field experiments. The hypotheses of the four experiments are:
  • People will contribute more to an online community when they think their contributions are likely to be unique and when they like the community more. (supported)

  • Users will contribute more when the personal benefit or the benefit they provided to the community is salient as a result of their contribution. (supported)

  • Members' contribution will increase more if they receive messages that enhancing the salience of intrinsic motivation compared to members who receive messages that do not enhance the salience of intrinsic motivation. (not supported)

  • Members with assigned challenging/specific numeric goals (supported) or individual goals (not supported) will contribute more (rate more movies) compared to members with non-specific goals or group goals.

  • members with exceedingly difficult specific goals will contribute less than the ones with difficult specific goals. (weakly supported)
Focus Question:

What do you see as *the* most important impediment or problem for online socializing?

My answer could be limited, because I do not have many experiences of online socializing. The answer is more like prediction. Actually, Akesha raised many good points for problems of online socializing (http://msucep956.blogspot.com/). I have one more thought to add to the list.
The most important problem for online socializing could be the lack of authority. I mean there is no structure or social resources to help people to trust the information they get, the individuals they encounter online, or the relationship they have online. As Williams discussed in his article, the cost of social capital to entry or exit the online community is much lower than in offline ones. It is easier for individuals to join online community and get involved on their call. Individuals have bridging experience more than bonding experience in online experiences. I doubt people can really get bonding experience in online community. Even it happens, it should be experience extended from a relationship from offline life. The authority line vanishes in online community. Even though there are administrators in online community for either technology support or community regulation, they have less power affect online socializing. In a community with less orders, socializing could have a ceiling effect because of the lack of trust. I see this is the most important problem for online socializing.

My questions from the readings and questions for Discussion in class:

The readings for this week are fairly new and could represent some trend of research of online community. My question is for researchers of online community, is there a debate for if or not researchers should perceive the online community as part of people's real social life? Another question is related to my discussion of the focus question. Is there any research studying the credibility of online socializing and the trust issues of online communication? If there is, what instrument the research used and theory the researchers applied (social psychology, personal psychology, or communication theory, etc)? What is the finding?


test post for clip_brainstorming

clipped from en.wikipedia.org

One of the most important things to do before a session is to define the problem. The problem must be clear, not too big, and captured in a definite question such as “What service for mobile phones is not available now, but needed?“. If the problem is too big, the chairman should divide it into smaller components, each with its own question. Some problems are multi-dimensional and non-quantified, for example “What are the aspects involved in being a successful entrepreneur”. Finding solutions for this kind of problem can be done with morphological analysis.^^

Brainstorming is a group creativity technique that was designed to generate a large number of ideas for the solution of a problem. The method originated in a 1953 book called Applied Imagination by Alex Faickney Osborn, an advertising executive. Osborn proposed that groups could double their creative output by using the method of brainstorming.[1]

 powered by clipmarksblog it


Reflection for the 11th Week.

Articles Read:
Main Course pt.1
Wallace, P. (1999). Group dynamics in cyberspace. The psychology of the Internet (pp. 55-83). London: Cambridge University Press. [Read this eBook - MSU authorized users]
Main Course pt.2
Williams, D. (2007, in press). The impact of time online: Social capital and cyberbalkanization. CyberPsychology & Behavior.
Side order
Nie, N.H., & Hillygus, D.S. (2002). The impact of internet use on sociability: Time-diary findings. IT & Society 1(1),1-20. Available at http://www.stanford.edu/group/siqss/itandsociety/v01i01/v01i01a01.pdf

Wallace, P. (1999). pp.55-83
In this chapter, Wallace elaborates the ideas of belonging, loyalty, and commitment of group behavior. The discussion starts with observations of new groups formed through online forums departed easily in a short time. But there are evidences of "groupness" emerged among the huge number of forums and chatrooms online. Early on 1993, there were research showed the dynamic made participants bond together have something to do with information seeking, personal experience connection and community senses. Basically, the idea of group has the elements of a population of participation of participants and communicative activities through which participants influence each other. There are instinct difference in how participants of groups influence each other between face-to-face group and online group in which participants never meet each other face-to-face. the authors developed their discussion in a way of understanding the influence mechanism of real life group and then compareing with the online case.

Conformation has been observed in real world for group activities but drop dramatically in online group. According to Wallace, that is because individuals perceived they are equal in power and knowledge with other online partners. (Comments: As a result of physical absence, this may be one of the reasons that why people feel much sager and freer when they are online.) So, there are some essential difference in what the strength make the basic group norms work in online or offline context. Because the established channels, in face-to-face groups, to learn accepted behaviors by observing others or collecting nonverbal signs are not available in online context, participants have to apply different channels to learn conventions and customs while they are online. However, the different ways people learn conventions online are always connected with virtual habitats in real life. Instead of a whole new set of rules, the ways online are evolved from real life niches, developed from real life into online environment, a part of people's life, which, together with face-to-face life, makes a whole. The channels are mainly constructed with verbal cues and signs. In a more serious level, the online community has to be regulated by certain sub-groups for an orderly environment to maintain normal functions. When individuals are online as a group member, they show groups polarization tendency depending on whether the individuals feel like they are a part of the group.

The disappearance of geographical limitation make the possibilities of people's finding the groups of interest infinite.

Compared to open system group behavior dynamics, work groups dynamics also shows different patterns in face-to-face interaction and online interaction. It is important to understand the mechanism and to take the advantages of the effectiveness of virtual work groups. This is very important and practical for various organizations. According to Wallace's observation, online groups behave differently during discussion with a more skewed bias. Also, minority can express freer about their ideas in online discussion than those offline counterparts. Another major findings for workgroup meeting online is that the brainstorming activity practiced online is more effective for more ideas than face-to-face ones where individuals have to take turns to address their ideas and have their ideas-development be interrupted by others. (This could be very supportive for the group project.)

Williams, D. (2007, in press).
To understand in a more comprehensive way what online activities can impact on individuals' lives, especially online and off-line social capitals, and psychological profiles. To observe the outcome of social networks, Williams applied the concepts of "bridging" and "bonding" to observe the outcome of social networks: bridging--inclusive social capital, new resources of social network, little emotional support; applied to people with different backgrounds and weak relationships, inch deep mile wide. Bonding--exclusive social capital, strong emotional support; applied to people with less diverse backgrounds, and strong relationship. Closely connected with previous studies, the result provided a set of inter-correlated evidences. The study found significant correlation of bonding social capital with offline time and bridging social capital with online. What examined by Nie (summarized below) was supported. The other meaningful findings from this study were that internet encourages online social capital; offline, actually, had higher outgroup antagonism than online; women were more likely to lose their offline social capital if they spent more time online than men; higher level extroversion people shown much less possibilities of loneliness online while lower level extroversion people felt increasing loneliness.

Nie, N.H., & Hillygus, D.S. (2002).
This article focused on identifying possible impact of internet on sociability, specifically sociability based on face-to-face interactions. The authors started with the hypotheses that internet changed the allocation of individuals' time usage. The authors used a time-diary based survey in which participants responded with recall on six time blocks of "yesterday". The study was conducted with a large sample size n=6146 with a with age range from 18 to 64. The findings supported the hypothesis that more time online at home or during weekends had the cost of less time socializing with friends and families. Another hypothesis on efficiency, assuming internet may provide technology to make people engage more in social activities, was not supported by any findings.

Focus Question:
What do you see as *the* strong pull towards online socializing?

Well, it depends. It depends on what levels of socializing we are talking about, what is the participants' background, such as age, education, and even vocation, and what are the purposes or motivations of the individuals' being online. It is not just a result of some simple feature of the online environment. Among the tons of activities people can do online, such as shopping, distance learning, information searching (news, medical information, information for goods, academic articles...), entertaining (YouTube, online music...), or gaming, etc, socializing could be the only goal and activity some individuals are working on, or it could be a by-product from other online activity, such as gaming and entertaining. For both face-to-face and online socializing, the essence is people are meeting with others and seeking the sense of belongings as part of human needs. For some people, their motivation of online socializing could be just meet with others, as an extension of their face-to-face life. For some others, their online socializing is more motivated by their eagerness to meet with real person, most of the cases are strangers. I will develop my discussion for the case in which people only experience online socializing without meeting the real person, person from work, or strangers.

From my own experiences and readings of the course, I will argue there are three basic attractive factors possessed by online socializing. One is the infinite possibilities offered by online socializing through which individuals can develop their interests with like mind on a much freer level, a level that individuals can meet their groups of interests at anytime during the day, anywhere they travel, without fear of violating conventions created in face-to-face socializing. The second is that individuals are free from any commitment to any online socializing relationships or groups, which is not possible in face-to-face socializing. They are safer to develop their socializing experiences and free to connect or disconnect with any social groups online without hardness or embarrassment they may likely to face in face-to-face socialization because of the customs and conventions. The last one is that, while online, individuals are not facing the pressure of the socially constructed "self" in face-to-face environment, the fixed impression of who they are, what they are good at, what they are not good at......

My questions from the readings and questions for Discussion in class:
1. Even though William provided some background information about social capital, it is not clear enough to understand to concept. In different fields of sociology and business, the concept of social capital may vary. But it is necessary for us to discuss the understanding of social capital under the online socializing context.