Social Computing Symposium at Microsoft

Some bright bulbs over at Microsoft Research (MSR) have organized a Symposium on Social Computing on March 29th and 30th at the Columbia Winery north of Redmond.  Mark your calendars!  Word is, the talks will be streamed to the Web.  Stay tuned for details.  There will be 20 speakers (see below) and a cap of 70 attendees total. Apparently, only 20 invitations will be distributed to Microsoft employees. As Scoble puts it, This one is gonna be harder to get tickets to than the SuperBowl.  Why? Because geeks like me are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to rub elbows with luminaries such as Clay Shirky, David Weinberger, Ward Cunningham, Jenny Preece, and Tim O’Reilly.  Here’s the list of speakers (thanks, Robert):

Joi Ito: founder of Neoteny (, venture capital firm focused on personal communications and enabling technologies. Blogger and moblogger (mobile) in Japan
Clay Shirky: Writes extensively about the internet & economics. Previously an editor at Ziff Davis, and teaches at NYU Blog:
Steven Johnson: author Interface Culture, Emergence Mind Wide Open
Tim O’Reilly: O’Reilly conferences, books, and web sites on open source, mac, emerging technologies

Panel on E-Democracy & Civic Action:

David Weinberger: author Cluetrain Manifesto, Small Pieces Loosely Joined, NPR Commentator (All Things Considerred)
Bob Putnum: Harvard University professor in public policy, author Bowling Alone
Zack Exley: Organizing director of
Scott Heiferman: Founder

Moderators and short talks:

Linda Stone Our own ex-Microsoft VP/director of the Virtual Worlds Group in MS Research is organizing and will moderate the 2 panels above Elizabeth Churchill: Social Computing Research, group manager FX Palo Alto Lab
Wendy Kellogg: Social Computing Research, group manage IBM TJ Watson Research Center
Danah Boyd: Ph.D student at UC Berkely, known for thesis on Identity and blogs: &
Judith Donath: runs Socialble Media Group at MIT Media Lab, talking about work on online dating
Mizuko Ito: Researcher at USC, known for reseach on mobile phones use in Japan, and impact of Japanese media (yugioh, etc.)
Ward Cunningham: Inventor of the WIKI, pattern languages, now a Microsoft employee!
Tom Erickson: researcher in the Social Computing Group, IBM TJ Watson Research Center, ex-Apple Human Interface Group
Jenny Preece: professor, university of Maryland, Baltimore County (online communities research)
Susan Herring: professor of Information Science, Indiana University, editor of Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Warren Sack: assistant professor, Social Technologies Group (SIMS), UC Berkeley
Steve Whittaker: Inforamtion Studies Department, Sheffield University (UI and collaboration systems)
Paul Resnick: Associate professor University of Michigan, School of Information (blogs, socio technical capital, reputation systems)
Shelly Farnham: Researcher Social Computing Group, Microsoft
Sean Kelly: Research Developer, Wallop, rss Microsoft.
Rael Dornfest (unconfirmed): With O’, emerging Media Conference,
Paul Dourish (unconfirmed): Associate professor Interactive and Collaborative Technologies, Dept of Informatics, UC Irvine

Comments (21)

  1. Ex softie says:

    noticed that Linda is still favoring her friends and pointedly ignoring her enemies.

    Notice the lack of Peter Kollock or Marc Smith (Microsoft’s only sociologist)

  2. Seb Paquet says:

    Actually, Wes Boyd and Joan Blades are the founders of Scott Heiferman founded

  3. Thanks for the correction, Seb. To avoid confusion, I’ll fix that immediately. BTW, I just heard through the grapevine that CBS is refusing to air an ad from during the Super Bowl. Apparently, CBS does not also plan to pull an ad that is being paid for by Bush-Cheney in 2004. Can anybody confirm?

    For the record, this is my work blog. I take full responsibility for its content and hold myself to a strict no-politics policy. That being said, I am intensely interested in, as I am in and and friendster as examples of the incredible potential that technology holds for transforming the way people connect and interact with other people.

  4. I’ve been invited to be say something at the Social Computing Symposium at Microsoft. I’m looking forward to hanging out…

  5. Scott says:

    What’s the definition of irony?

    An invitation only symposium on social computing.

  6. Gail says:

    Hmmm sounds interesting.

    Are you going?

  7. I’d walk there barefooted if it would convince my friends in MSR to let me in ;-).

  8. Hey Korby – too bad the folks putting this gig on aren’t as interested in RightMarch as you are… seeing as how once again, not a single representative of the conservative end of the spectrum has been invited…

    Ah well…


  9. I can’t speak for the symposium organizers (I’m not one of them) but I’m guessing they gave much more thought to matters of TechnoGeekPolitik than traditional American politics when putting the invite list together. Additionally, the symposium is a private event, albeit funded by a public corporation. Nevertheless, I’d be lying to you if I claimed to think that this oversight wasn’t just a bit shortsighted.

    I have been working with one of our top people in the MSPAC (Microsoft Employee Political Action Committee) to organize a ‘technology in politics’ forum or series of talks by experts like yourself from across the political and issue advocacy spectrum to discuss the emerging role of social computing ideas and applications in modern politics, especially fundraising, at an official MSPAC event(s). If my idea does come to fruition and if you or one of your people at think you might like to participate, please send me your email or other contact information by clicking "Contact" at the top of this page. Thanks,


  10. Korby,

    Sounds like a great idea. Let me know if your idea become reality, I’d be more than happy to participate. (Must be the old academician in me that’s a glutton for punishment.) I’ll drop you a line.

  11. I’m sorry, I don’t buy this whole "ultimate irony/invitation-only social computing" thing. Small groups are a social environment worth studying. So are mobs. So are world comunities. They are very different and we need all of them. Is it wrong to have an invitation-only meeting, or dinner party? Is it wrong to sell tickets to a baseball game or concert and not just throw the doors open? Of course not. There is a wide diversity of social events with different purposes and different design points. Social computing != huge social networks. Huge networks is one aspect of social computing, and there are many others that are worthy of study. There are conferences that try to attract a lot of people to talk about social computing. This isn’t one of them. Research and industry conferences come in all shapes and sizes. We have some specific goals around this one (which I shared on my blog), we invited some people we thought could help us achieve them, and we’re going to share the result with the world. We’re trying to do something different from all of the other conferences, because we think there is value in diversity. I encourage you to judge the event by the outcome, I welcome your critique, and when all is said and done if you think you can do better, by all means organize your own event the way you want and I completely respect your right to invite (or dis-invite) whomever you like.

  12. Weddings says:

    Some bright bulbs over at Microsoft Research (MSR) have organized a Symposium on Social Computing on March 29th and 30th at the Columbia Winery north of Redmond. Mark your calendars! Word is, the talks will be streamed to the Web. Stay tuned for details