Emergent Properties of Social-Computational Systems

What distinguishes social-computational systems from other types of software systems (such as software for cars or air planes) is the unprecedented involvement of data about user behavior, user goals and motivations into the softwareís user interface and structure. In social-computational systems, the interaction between a user and the system is typically mediated by the aggregation of data from a large set of other users. Examples of social-computations systems include systems where aggregated user data is used to suggest search terms (e.g. Google Autosuggest), to recommend products (e.g. Amazon recommendations), or to aid navigation (e.g. tag-based navigation). In such systems, potentially essential system properties and functions (such as semantics, findability, utililty, navigability and others) are dynamically influenced by behavioural data from other users. For engineers of such systems, understanding, influencing and potentially controlling the emergent prop! erties and functions is a crucial but complex challenge, involving the analysis of social and behavioral patterns in large data sets. In this talk, I intend to (i) give an introduction to research challenges related to social-computational systems, (ii) present selected results of my research on emergent properties of social-computational systems (in particular: navigability and semantics) and (iii) demonstrate how engineers can use these results to influence selected properties of social-computational systems. Bio: Markus Strohmaier is an Assistant Professor at the Knowledge Management Institute at Graz University of Technology, Austria since June 2007. From March 2006 to May 2007 he was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Computer Science at University of Toronto, Canada funded by an FWF Erwin Schroedinger Postdoctoral Fellowship. He is the Principal Investigator (PI) of a 3 year FWF research grant (TransAgere) that focuses on the role of (human) agents and goals on the social web. He is currently a visiting scientist at (XEROX) PARC in Palo Alto, CA.