FROM THE COMPUTERIZATION MOVEMENT TO COMPUTERIZATION: A CASE STUDY OF A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE Barry Wellman Director, NetLab Department of Sociology

University of Toronto Toronto, Canada M5S 1A1

wellman@chass.utoronto.ca

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Anabel Quan-Haase Faculty of Information & Media Studies; Dept of Sociology University of Western Ontario London, Ontario Canada aquan@uwo.ca
5/26/2005 1

Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Thirty Years On
1976: Amaze people with HC-CH communication 1986: Early adopters had PCs and email 1991: “Do you have an Internet address”? 1996: “Do you have a website? 2001: “Google me” 2005: “Do you have WiFi access?
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Barry Wellman

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The End of The Simple Digital Divide
Most North Americans Online – At Home, Work People Routinely Log On Internet No Longer Limited to Far-Flung Connections
Most Email and IM Conversations are Local

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

David Sipress. The New Yorker May 28, 2001

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Three Models of Computerization Effects
Work Relations Becoming Inauthentic
Without Face-to-Face

Traditional Communities of Work Persist
Sociability, Support, Tacit Knowledge The Force – Xerox repair persons

Networked Communities
Less Densely Knit, More Heterogeneous Switching Among Work Partners as Needed Higher Use of Computer Mediated Communication Knowledge Management -- Friends of Friends
• Nosh Contractor

Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Computerization Movement at Work
Increased Trust Better Collaboration; More Community Online Life Dominates Space Becomes Irrelevant Organizations Become Social Networks

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Typical Hierarchical Tree

Source: CEDEX (Japan) (Seabed core research)

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Is the Internet Transforming Work Organization?
Characteristics of a Networked Organization
Traditional Hierarchical Bureaucracies Short-Circuited

Peer-to-Peer Rather than Tree-Structure
Napster vs. iPod

Multiple Reports – Management by Network Flexibility and Openness Computer Mediated Communication
Used Widely Used Locally as Well as Globally
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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

The KME Study
High Tech Organization of 80 Studied Two Key Departments (N =27) in 2002 Software Programming
Virtual Community Applications

Client Services
Managed Virtual Communities

Multiple Media Users Look at CMC In Context of:
All Media Used Work & Socializing Relationships Social Structure of Organization

Anabel Quan-Haase’s Dissertation
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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Hyperconnected Local Virtuality
Hyperconnected
All can reach all instantly

Local Virtuality:
High use of CMC, even though physically proximate Less disturbing Attachments – files Compare with CM Ideal of Virtual Locality

GloCalization
Extensive Global and Extensive Local
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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Research Questions
How Does CMC Fit in a Routinized, Normalized Media Ecology ? How Does CMC Affect Work Practices? What are Social Networks Like?
Within Group and Beyond Group Work and Socializing

How Do CMC & Nets Affect:
Community, Trust (and Productivity)?

Is There a Networked Organization?
Or Networks within Hierarchical Bureaucracy?
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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Case Study Methods
27 employees, high-tech firm
11 software developers 16 virtual community maintainers

Online network survey:
3 distances: workgroup, organization, outside org.

3 media: face-to-face, instant messaging, email 2-Hour Interviews of 10 employees Full-Day Observations of the same 10
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Software Development Industry
pressures -Success measures: profit, market share -Staff assigned to specific tasks -User is distant and less involved -Process is immature -Coordinated software development
-Time-to-market

Client Services
pressures -Success measures: satisfaction, acceptance assigned to specific projects -User is involved and provides input -Process is more mature -Task accomplishment independent bureaucratic -Less individualistic -More set working hours managed and project focused -People assigned to multiple projects -Work-together as needed -Salary-based -Rely on formal specifications -Larger, somewhat dispersed
-Matrix -More -Staff -Cost

Tasks

Cultural Milieu Group

-Entrepreneurial -Individualistic -Long work hours likely to have matrix structure -Involved in entire development cycle -More cohesive, motivated, jelled -Opportunities for large financial rewards -Large discrepancies in income -Small, co-located
-Less

Barry Wellman

Hyperconnected

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Visually: People Look Isolated Hi Level of Email and IM Connectivity Complemented by:
Informal Encounters – Walk-Overs, Lunches Formal Meetings

Peer-to-Peer among Programmers
Maintainers more Hierarchical

Logged-In Morning to Night
Availability Indicator Tradeoff between Interdependency & Overload Multitasking

Computerization and Pedestrianization

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Networked but Hierarchical

C lien t S ervic es S oftw a re D ev elop m en t

M an ag ers an d S u p ervis ors F acilitators an d P ro gra m m ers

F igu re 1 . In form ation N etw ork – W eek ly E xch an g es

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Socializing Network – Weekly Exchanges

Software Development

Client Services

Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Information Brokering
Information brokers are central in information network Measured as information network centrality
Social Network Information network Technological Network

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Sources of Information
Rely on both human & documentary sources Both human and documentary sources predominantly accessed online

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Intermingling Email, Phone (& F2F)
“I looked at some of what we had in place, but I wasn’t sure what to do. So I emailed Jerry about an area that he is very knowledgeable about. And he responded within 20 minutes. I had to go back & forth a couple of times over email, and I ended up calling him over the phone just to clarify things. And then I implemented what he recommended, and it worked!”
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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Phone-IM Tradeoff
If there is any complexity to it, I use the phone sometimes too. The phone and face-to-face, it is kind of similar in that if it is at all complex, I want it that way, just to have it back and forth. Last night I started communicating with Roger with IM and pretty quickly I just wanted to call him on the phone. It would just take too long to explain everything on IM. You can do a fair amount of back and forth. [Phone] is better than email: there is some back and forth. So I talk on the phone because it is too complex to try and sort out over IM.

(James, programmer)

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Community & Collaboration
Interpersonal, Departmental & Organizational Frequent CMC Breeds Awareness, Understanding, Trust FTF Assesses Tone, Body Language, Smell, Presentation of Self

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Interdependence
I investigated the product by trying various things and to do that. I IM’d some people that it had impact: Brian and Sally they were experts. And then, it happened to be in this case Steve and Denise who were emailing and Brian. They were in this email thread that was going back and forth. It is very specific to what the problem is, though. John, Software Developer
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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

“Local Virtuality”
DEF: Use of CMC for local communication CMC is the majority of communication encounters (days/year)
However, IMs short, emails longer, F2F longest

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Communication Within Departments, Elsewhere in Organization, and Outside Organization

65

Outside Organization
178

Elsewhere in Organization
285 Within Department 0 50 100 150 200 250 300

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Media Use by Distance
Daily

IM

*
FTF

Email
+

Never

Workgroup

Organization

Outside

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Communication at KME (Days per Year)
FTF & Phone Within Department Elsewhere in Organization Outside Organization
240 (28%) 99 (19%) 21 (11%)

Email
306 (36%) 213 (40%) 103 (53%)

IM
306 (36%) 215 (41%) 72 (37%)

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Instant Messaging
Priority over email, F2F, phone Speed, Synchronicity, Compellingness Logging-in creates awareness of availability IM can’t be saved or archived
Sometimes this is an advantage

Used extensively for bonding: social exchanges

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Instant Messaging
I use IM a lot. IM is great if you have one question that you just need an answer to. When you need to explain something in detail – an outline, kind of a business case for doing something, or for getting somebody to take action – email is the best. I just know that if you call or send an IM, you will get a faster response than email.

Software developer Linda

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

IM Rather than F2F
Internally, I use IM a fair amount because there are times where I want to know something, but I don’t want the other person to know how I am reacting or responding. Like I know he is going to tell me to do X and I don’t think that is the right way to go, but I have to ask him and he is going to tell me that and then he doesn’t see my face going Ah! And then I can have a moment to think …and composing myself and figuring out how to respond.

(Andy, Community Maintainer)

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Email vs F2F
I don’t want to be loud because there all these people right there. The phone is ok, but I feel I am invading other people’s privacy, if I am loud on the phone. The best way for me is email plus I like to keep a written record of everything that is going on.

(Lori, Community Maintainer)
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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Email vs IM
I use email … because I can develop a well thought-through message, and the other person can respond to it at a different time. Instant messaging exists for immediate things, for quick exchanges, where you don’t care about archiving. To me, I think that email should not substitute for face-to-face relationships.

Software developer Linda

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Glocalization – Local Virtuality
Local Virtuality
Computer Mediated Neighboring Most messages within same dept, floor Dept’l structure & layout affects communication
• Programmers are Peer-to-Peer – Communicate Laterally • Community Facilitators Work Alone – Communicate Up

GloCalization
Dispersed, but Local Stays Important Proportionately Greater Reliance on CMC at Greater Social & Physical Distances Differences in Work Function & Tasks Drive Differences in Communication

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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

A Networked Hierarchy
Classic Management Hierarchy Persists Professionals Accomplish Goals
Independently Interdependently – especially Software Developers

Rules about Work & Dept’l Structure Coexist with Hi Levels of Trust, Community Too Complex for Close Supervision
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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Implications For the Computerization Movement
Computerization > Hyperconnectivity > Trust, Community, Cooperation
Organic Solidarity: Interdependent Interdependencies

Structured by Type of Work & Department Spatial Propinquity Still Matters Enabling Bureaucracy – Not a Networked Organization Technology Affords; It Does Not Transform
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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Changing Structures
Densely Knit > Sparsely-Knit Impermeable (Bounded) > Permeable Broadly-Based Solidarity > Specialized Multiple Foci To Find Networks, We Don’t Assume Structure
But Ask/Observe About Relationships

Discover Who is Central, Bridges, Brokers
Where are Subgroups Where are Equivalent People
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Unit To Unit (Place To Place)
(Phones, Networked PCs, Airplanes, Expressways, RR, Transit)

Home, Office Important Contexts,
Not Intervening Space

Ramified & Sparsely Knit: Not Local Solidarities
Not neighborhood-based Not densely-knit with a group feeling

Partial Membership in Multiple Workgroups/ Communities Often Based on Shared Interest Connectivity Beyond Neighborhood, Work Site Work Group to Work Group Domestication, Feminization of Community (& Work?)
Shift from Manipulating Atoms (Things) to Manipulating Bits (Words)

Deal with Multiple Groups Knowledge Comes From Internal & External Sources “Glocalization”: Globally Connected, Locally Invested

Person-to-Person: Networked Individualism
Little Awareness of Context Private Desires Replace Public Civility Multiple Specialized Relationships Partial Membership in Multiple Networks Long-Distance Relationships More Transitory Relationships Online Interactions Linked with Offline More Uncertainty, More Maneuverability Less Palpable than Traditional Solidarities: Alienation? Sparsely-Knit: Fewer Direct Connections Than Door-To-Door Possibly Less Caring for Strangers More Weak Ties Need for Institutional Memory & Knowledge Management

Bounded Groups (Door-to-Door)

Glocalization (Place-to-Place)

Networked Individualism (Person-to-Person)

Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Networked – And Hierarchical
Ties Neither Random or Even
Most Within Dept – and Different Patterns Between Depts Differences Between Managers and Employees

Individualized Networking
Each Switches among Multiple, Specialized Partial Networks Interact with Diverse Partners Simultaneously, Sequentially Rather than Full-Blown Networked Organization

Direct Ties Rule
Indirect Ties At Most One Step
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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Findings & Speculations
Away from Individual Choice, Congruency
Social Affordances Only Create Possibilities

Email Used for All Roles:
Work, Knowledge, Sociability and Support

Roles Remain Specialized on Email Email Lowers Status Distances Email Network Not a Unique Social Network
Intermixed with Face-to-Face (low use of phone, video, fax) Reduces Temporal as well as Spatial Distances

Need for Social (Network) Software to Foster:
Awareness, Reachability, Knowledge Transfer IKNOW
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Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

How a Network Society Looks
Moving from a hierarchical society bound up in groups to a network – and networking – society Shifting, Fluid Structures Personal Logons vs Family Visits, Household Phones Multiple Communities / Work Networks
Multiplicity of Specialized Relations Management by Networks More Uncertainty, More Maneuverability Find Resources in Specialized Tie Boutiques – Not in General Relationship Stores Networks Less Palpable than Traditional Solidarities Need Navigation Tools: Spoke, IKNOW
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Implications for a Networked Society
GloCalization: Global & Local Involvements
Local Becomes Just another Interest Social & Spatial Peripheries Closer to the Center

Social Linkages: Higher Velocity & Add-On Volume Social Capital: Specialized Relationships
Online & Offline Intersect > Intangible & Tangible Aid

Social Cohesion: Shift among multiple memberships
Specialized Roles; CMC Affords Interconnections

Social Mobilization: Shared Interests Find Each Other Social Control: Less Group Control
Burden on Dyadic Reciprocity + Formal Surveillance Controls

Social Exclusion: Digital Divides: National & Global

Barry Wellman

www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

Individual as Portal
Individual is the Primary Unit of Connectivity
Not the Household, Workgroup, Tribe

Each Person Operates a Personal Network Each Person is the Portal of Communication
Mobile Phone, Email Address, Instant Messaging
• Versus Letter, Landline Phone, Home Address

Each Person is the Portal of Resource Mobilization
Specialized Ties; Divisions of Labor Control of Property & Control of Networks

Bridges Important
Connect Individuals; Connect Clusters; Integrate Societies
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Bounded Groups
** Each in its Place
“Our Town” Met at Malt Shop Dating > Engagement Love> Sex> Marriage> Baby Marriage HH as Reproductive Unit “Love and Marriage” Mom & Dad, Dick & Jane United Family 1-2 Person Household Shared Community Densely-Knit Neighborhoods Voluntary Organizations Face-to-Face Contact Public Spaces Similar Attributes Social Control Conserves Resources

Networked Individualism
Mobility of People and Goods **
“Friends” Met on Match.com Hanging Out > Seeing Each Other Sex > Love > Partnering Civil Union HH as Consummatory Duet “Sex and the City” Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, & Miranda Serial Marriage, Mixed Custody 3-4 Person Household Multiple, Partial Personal Nets Sparsely-Knit Dispersed Networks Informal Leisure Computer-Mediated Communication Private Spaces Similar Interests Dyadic Exchanges Gathers New Resources, Failures

Routinized Stability

Stable Instability

Thank You –

Barry Wellman & Anabel Quan-Haase

… and Max

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