MSR New England Social Media Research


September 7, 2010


Amelia Abreu, Andres Monroy Hernandez, and Omar Wasow


Each speaker will give a 12 minute presentation of their work and then there will be an open discussion.

#1: Amelia Abreu, University of Washington
“Tag!: How games and memes create social infrastructure online”

This paper examines “tag” games played on YouTube. We employ case study methodology to track and compare games across several user communities, analyzing content and discourse in structure, representation of identity, use of the system, and genre development. Examining individual and group dynamics in play, we extract models for their transmission and formation. Framing tag games as contemporary folklore, we examine how video sharing technology has become subject of folklore as well as an a vehicle for it. As the research suggests, games studied exhibit not only play in sharing and showing details, but in organizing and structuring ideas and identities, thus revealing a complex informal information infrastructure. In conclusion, we consider how this infrastructural model compares to formal systems of indexing.

#2: Andres Monroy-Hernandez, MIT Media Lab
“Copyrights and copycats: understanding young people’s remixing practices”

Digital technologies have made it easier for people, youth in particular, to copy and reuse other people’s songs, pictures, code and other forms of digital creations. Through the analysis of remixing, or content reuse, we present a more nuanced view of how technology mediates young people’s understandings of intellectual property. We interviewed participants of an online community of young remixers and analyzed log data to unpack the role of attribution, communication and effort, in participant’s evaluations of different remixing scenarios.

#3: Omar Wasow, Harvard University
“Burned: Can too much ‘sunlight’ be harmful?”

In the last century, “transparency” and “open government” initiatives have attempted to increase incentives for ethical and legal behavior by pushing for policies that track and disclose the actions of powerful individuals and institutions. As improvements in information technology have dramatically lowered the cost of capturing, publishing and disseminating data, the breadth of activities and individuals subject to public scrutiny has also increased. The potential limitations of transparency and open government, however, are not well understood. We consider several models of the effects of transparency on behavior and, contrary to positive conceptions of transparency, identify contexts in which additional transparency may produce worse outcomes. We evaluate our model on the case of publishing individual conviction histories online.


Amelia Abreu, Andres Monroy Hernandez, and Omar Wasow

Amelia is a PhD Candidate in the Information School at University of Washington, advised by Allyson Carlyle. Her research focuses on the social and cultural aspects of classification and information systems, with a particular focus on everyday life activities. With a background in libraries, archives and museums, she is interested in design strategies for long-range preservation of digital media.

Andres is a PhD candidate at the MIT Media Lab doing research in social computing. He is interested in the design and study of on-line collaborative environments.

He led the development of the Scratch online community, a website with more than 500,000 monthly visitors where young people share their own video games and interactive animations. Also, he is one of the founders of Moca, a mobile health care system for the developing world.

He has been supported by fellowships from Telmex, Bardesco and Samsung. Before MIT, he worked at Ex Libris and at the Los Alamos National Lab. He has a MS from MIT and a BS in computer engineering from Tec de Monterrey.

Omar Wasow is a fifth-year doctoral candidate at Harvard pursuing a Ph.D. in African and African American studies, a Master’s in Government and a Master’s in Statistics. His research focuses on race and American political development. He is particularly interested in education policy and criminal justice policy. He is also interested in the intersection of social media and politics. Prior to enrolling in graduate school, in 1999, he co-founded the site, an African American-oriented social network that he helped grow to three million unique visitors a month. In 2003, he helped found a K-8 charter school in Brooklyn. In addition, he works to demystify technology issues through regular TV and radio segments on shows like NBC’s Today and Oprah. In support of his research, he has received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, a Dissertation Fellowship by the Project on Justice, Welfare, and Economics , a Humane Studies Fellowship and the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellowship. He received his BA from Stanford University in Race and Ethnic Relations.


  • Portrait of Andrés Monroy-Hernández

    Andrés Monroy-Hernández