Funding, work, and participation are changing. No biggie.

The yearly Computer-Supported Cooperative Work Conference organised in Baltimore in mid-February was a goldmine of state-of-the-art research that crosses the boundaries of the social sciences and information technology.

I spoke about a current project that examines the networked hospitality exchange fostered by the Airbnb concept:

The conference featured a delightful range of themes connected with the sharing economy in its broad sense:

  1. Crowdfunding

The conference featured four papers on crowdfunding, which illustrates the swift ascent of the crowdfunding phenomenon into the sphere of interest of the research community. Specifically, the importance of community support and the language and style of campaign messages in the success of the campaign was dealt with in more detail. One paper uses experimental research to compare the functionality of different online crowdfunding websites and the mutual coordination between donors. An analysis of the significance of geographic and organisational distances in the internal crowdfunding of companies represents a more structural perspective.

  1. Crowdwork

Crowdwork and its reliability and fairness is another hot topic, that raises debate in research circles. Four papers were introduced for this theme as well: an investigation on Amazon Mechanical Turk microworkers, another on their motivations, a third on people receiving commissions through Task Rabbit and GigWalk, and a fourth research paper that examines the threats related to malpractice and deceit in crowd-powered systems.

  1. Voluntary work and social participation

The conference also featured the topic of combining IT and voluntary work in dealing with crises like natural catastrophes, and the use of social media as part of social participation and influencing political processes:


Interesting panel discussions were held on a different kind of DIY activity and the definition of computational social science:

All the publications introduced at the conference can be downloaded from the ACM Digital Library.

Airi Lampinen

The author is a Demos Helsinki Associate Member, who currently works as a visiting researcher at the University of California, Berkley.