Monday, July 12, 2010

Social networking workshop wrap-up

Last week I attended the HarambeeNet Workshop on Social Networks in Education at Duke University. There were approximately 40 other academics and researchers at the NSF-funded workshop which focused on using social networks and related topics to encourage broader participation in computer science. It was good to see some old friends and make some new ones and enjoy the beautiful Duke campus.

There were a number of excellent presentations and lots of new information. I took some notes and occasionally tweeted, but what I thought was fantastic was using Ning for sharing links, slides, and other resources (sorry, but you can't access the link apparently without a password). Ning allow you to have something like your own private Facebook space.

The biggest thing I took away from the workshop was the desire to integrate some social media into my intro to computing and web development courses. There's so many neat things you can do, like analyze tweets for spam, look for Wikipedia edit wars, and build networks from blog links. I'm hoping to develop some creating CS1 assignments in this area which I'll likely talk about here in the future.

Our keynote on Friday was Jon Kleinberg who is probably best known for his HITS algorithm. Kleinberg recently taught an interdisciplinary course on networks at Cornell and wrote a book with David Easley on the topic: Networks, Crowds, and Markets. After hearing Kleinberg's presentation, I'd love to offer a similar course at Harding.

It was also interesting talking to Ben Shneiderman who worked as an expert witness in the Apple vs. Microsoft case when Apple tried to copyright the GUI. While riding from the airport to the hotel, Shneiderman shared with me that what pushed Jobs to start litigation was when Windows 2 introduced overlapping windows; Windows 1 only had tiled windows which apparently didn't upset Jobs. Shneiderman also presented at the workshop his push for Technology-Mediated Social Participation and a visualization tool for networks using Excel: NodeXL.