Attending the Social Computing Symposium, Virtually

I'd like to preface this post by saying that I do not have an “RSS“ tattoo on my bicep and my license plate does not read Bliki, WikiWiki, Mny2Mny, SmartKorb, Wikster or anything else related to social computing. I may be a geek but I'm not that far gone.

Tomorrow or Sunday, approximately seventy of the great thinkers, doers, zealots, and pundits in the field of social computing will descend on Redmond for a Social Computing Symposium. Although I won't be there in person, I will be there in spirit. I have eagerly consumed every bit of information about the symposium and the speakers I could lay my hands on.  No, I haven't yet read David Weinberger's Cluetrain Manifesto but I have followed his recent blog posts, as well as those of Amy Jo Kim and Clay Shirky (among others) every day over at Many2Many.  I also dug into Paul Resnick's writings on social captial, read most of Jenny Preece's Online Communities and revisited Joi Ito's Emergent Democracy and forums.  Yesterday, I even found some time to attend a talk by Barry Wellman.  There's a complete list of attendees and their bios over at the Symposium site.  If you're interested in social computing, I encourage you to check it out.  The Microsoft Research team did an incredible job putting together a well-balanced group. Off the top of my head, the only person who isn't on the list who seems like he should be is Howard Rheingold.

The two day long, invitation-only Social Computing Symposium is being sponsored by Microsoft Research, IBM, and FX Palo Alto and spearheaded by Lili Cheng and Shelly Farnsworth in MSR. In my previous blog post on the subject (wherein I begged and pleaded for a ticket to the big dance) one observant and witty reader mused, “What's the definition of irony? Answer: an invitation-only Social Computing Symposium.” No doubt.  The founder of RightMarch weighed in, claiming discrimination against conservative acadamecians.  Sheesh, I got emails from inside and outside Microsoft, asking if I could spare them a buck, a smoke, and shhhh, a backdoor pass to the big event.  Total insanity. I can't even imagine what Lili and Shelly have gone through. 

Last night, Scoble blogged about the Symposium (yes, the lucky dog got invited), and the mere mention of  “invitation-only“ set off a torrent of indignant comments. It's Friday night people!  Go to the movies.  Fortunately, Kevin Schofield quickly blogged about the purpose of the event and why it is invitation-only.  I wish I could get cover fire that fast. I should've asked Scoble to call in the artillery a month ago. 🙂

If I do run into Symposium participants next week, I'd love to talk about social capital and microincentivization in microeditorial collaborative authoring environments, ownership, Wunderkammern, membranes, groupthink, the value or lack thereof of anonymity in social spaces, emergent democracy, the roots of blogging, and even mundane stuff like corporate blogging, what it's like to work at a place that looks like Gattaca, the weather in Seattle, and why some people's names have no capital letters.

Comments (8)

  1. Forgot to mention. The Symposium has its own Wiki, which is hosted on FlexWiki!


  2. Matt says:

    Is it just me, or is there something very wrong with the concept of attending a _social_ computing conference "virtually"?

    I mean, its not very social, is it? 🙂

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