My research is primarily focused on how we work together in groups, particularly how to make collaboration more fruitful, and efficient (and less painful – because it sometimes is). Specifically, I am looking at groups we are part of online.
My thesis project came out of a midterm paper I wrote in March for Clay Shirky’s Social Facts class. I studied a forum online and discovered that there are some people who can be pretty disruptive in groups – even though they may not be violating the rules of the group. Its these people I’m interested in studying, to see how we can structure and govern groups to make collaboration enjoyable, not painful – and to ensure that group decisions reflect the group as a whole….
One small explanation about the term ‘Noisy Idiots’ – my main aim is to find ways to include people in debate and groups. The phrase came about in a playful manner due to sheer frustration at seeing some people dominate group discussion in a disruptive way. This paper tackles tricky issues such as balancing free speech and constructive conversation, but the aim is to get us all talking and listening to each other. I also understand the very important role that minority voices play in conversation – and am in no way suggesting that we shouldn’t listen to those with a view that is different to ours.
I’d be hugely grateful to hear your thoughts – and your ideas, thank you.
Punchcard is a proposal for a membership service targetting freelancers, independent workers and others who do not work in tradition offices.Â Punchcard membership would give members access to a network of coworking spaces.Â In addition, Punchcard membership would offer access to an online “dashboard” communications/social networking platform, that appears on members’ computers when they log into the WiFi at a Punchcard location.Â The platform draws on elements of Twitter, social networking sites, and instant messaging, but is location-based, so that members can see who else is in that space at a given time, and view their profiles.Â Punchcard platform is meant to facillitate serendipitious interactions between Punchcard members with the goal of potential networking and collaborative opportunities.
The dean of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Mary Schmidt Campbell, was a special guest during our final pitches.Â She noted in the post-presentation Q&A that the Punchcard platform could also be adapted to other applications besides networking for laptop-nomad freelancers.Â She said that something like it could be implemented in a university context to build community and interdisciplinary collaboration between students in different departments.
While team Punchcard will not be continuing on to the next stage of the competition at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, WA this summer, we would still like to continue to develop the project in some way, perhaps in the Stern Business Plan competition in the fall.
Download PDF of the Punchcard presentation deck.
Photo: Team Punchcard is Catherine White, Lee-Sean Huang, Caroline Brown and Peter Horvath.