Analyzing Social Interaction in Computer-Mediated Communication Systems

Susan Herring

SLIS Professor Susan Herring co-taught, with Marc Smith of Microsoft Research, a full-day tutorial, "Analyzing Social Interaction in Computer-Mediated Communication Systems," as part of the Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) 2006 conference, in Banff, Canada, on November 5. The tutorial was designed to inform participates about sociological and linguistic approaches to social software systems and to introduce tools for visualizing and analyzing communication in social cyberspaces.

The CSCW conference is a "leading forum for the work on the design, deployment, and evaluation of technologies that affect groups, organizations, communities, and societies." [CSCW 2006 website]

TUTORIAL DESCRIPTION – Analyzing Social Interaction in Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) Systems [CSCW website]

This tutorial on the rapid advances in visualizing online interaction around community support, weblog use, and other social software is given by two leading researchers. The tutorial combines technical and social considerations. It was very successful when first offered in 2004. - Steve and Jonathan

Instructors: Susan Herring (Indiana University) and Marc Smith (Microsoft Research)

Description: Learn about social software systems and communication in social cyberspaces. Learn conceptual frameworks from linguistics and sociology that provide insight into online social interaction. Select and apply tools for mining and visualizing social information from computer-mediated communication (CMC) databases.


  • Overview of CMC systems and social software
  • Concepts for analyzing social interaction in CMC systems
  • Design tips to facilitate desirable outcomes
  • Application of CMC analysis and visualization tools

Intended audience: This introductory tutorial is for actual and potential designers, researchers, owners, managers and users of CMC systems like email, chat, IM, weblogs, and newsgroups. No background in sociology or linguistics is expected.

About the instructors: Susan Herring, professor of Information Science and Linguistics, is the creator of Computer-Mediated Discourse Analysis, a methodological toolkit for analyzing online conversation. She is the editor of Computer-Mediated Communication: Linguistic, Social and Cross-Cultural Perspectives (Benjamins) and Computer-Mediated Conversation (Hampton, in press). Marc Smith, a research sociologist specializing in the social organization of online communities, leads the Community Technologies Group at Microsoft Research. He is co-editor of Communities in Cyberspace (Routledge), and the designer of the "Netscan" engine that enables social data mining of Usenet newsgroups.

Posted November 16, 2006