Note: This is my third great-grandfather, Warren Foote. He was a Mormon Pioneer and an early settler of Glendale, Utah. --- Glendale, Utah
Note: This is Glendale today. In the 1870s a number of towns in southern Utah decided to create what they called a United Order - a form of communal living. Within a year the experiment failed in Glendale, as it did in almost all of the other communities that tried it. --- Orderville, Utah
Note: However, there was one exception. A town just four miles down the road from Glendale, now called Orderville. Orderville seemed identical along nearly every dimension but which lived in communal living for a decade. --- My Work ======== Questions ------------
Why do some attempts at collective action succeed while most fail?
How do people decide what to contribute to and how to contribute?
In what ways do our current systems lead to sub-optimal outcomes? How could we optimize public goods production?
Note: The question about why Orderville succeeded while so many other attempts failed is basically the same question I'm trying to answer today, in an online context. Why do some attempts succeed while most fail? I've focused mostly on the micro- and meso-level. How do people make decisions about what to do and how do those decisions aggregate to impact the success of populations of projects? And specifically, how do local decisions lead to globally sub-optimal outcomes and can we change that? --- Approaches ---------
Survey of new community founders about their motivations and goals
Network structure of participation in early communities
Agent-based modeling of participation decisions
Note: I am still a PhD student and so most of these are works-in-progress, but these are some projects we've been working on that are relevant to this workshop. We surveyed founders of new communities about their expectations and goals for their communities to get a sense of what the initial population of communities looks like. In another project, we are looking at how various structures of participation arise on Wikia and how different structures relate to project outcomes. Finally, we're working on an agent-based modeling project to simulate how people decide when and where to contribute. --- Workshop Questions ============== Note: So, my broad interests are in collective action and in how local decision-making relates to the provision of public goods. I am particularly interested in how new projects gain attention and contributions. I think that the emergence of user roles is very important in answering those questions. --- How do roles differ by project size? ------------------- - Most projects are never intended to be Linux or Wikipedia - Small and large projects have different needs. - What sorts of roles exist in small communities? - How does that distribution change as communities grow? Note: For example, I would be very interested in exploring how roles differ in small and large communities. In our survey paper we found that most founders actually seek to create small, niche communities. On Wikia, there are many more communities like Warrior Cats Original Fan Stories and Art Wiki than there are Game of Thrones Wiki. I am interested in how roles are enacted in small communities and whether there might be different roles than those that appear in large communities where most research on roles has occurred? I also would love to know when and how the distribution changes as a community grows. --- What are the feedback loops for contributors? -------------------- - How does the state of a project influence which roles people take on? - How do people perceive the state of the environment and identify needs? Note: I would also be interested in studying how people perceive the needs of a system and how they select into the roles that they perform. Does the distribution of roles respond to needs in the system? What needs are more difficult to signal? --- How can we enable more complex collective action? ------------------ - Commons-based peer production has only worked in a few domains (e.g., FOSS, Wikipedia, OSM) where: - Roles are fairly interchangeable - Outputs are visible with clear standards - What sorts of tools or processes could enable different kinds of roles to contribute to public goods? Note: Finally, I wonder whether we are at the high-water mark for peer production or whether this is only the beginnning. This model has been successful in a few domains but has failed in many others. To put a role-based spin on this question, what are the constraints stopping people from applying different types of expertise to peer production projects and can they be overcome?