HMI757. Social interaction and the design of virtual communities, 5p


Daniel Pargman
Postal address: KTH, NADA/Media Technology, 100 44 Stockholm
Phone: 790 82 80


Fall 2004

Prerequisites Participants should have basic familiarity with different sorts of on-line interaction so as to be able to read and understand the literature (i.e. distribution lists, bulletin board systems, MUDs, chat, IRC, MMOGs etc.).
No further prerequisites are required beyond what is specified below (see "application").

Many people spend increasing amounts of time in many different kinds of virtual communities. Researchers from a variety of disciplines have by now studied the area for ten years and more. What then are the research issues involved in the study and design of virtual communities? What in the first place is a virtual community, or, a non-virtual community for that matter? How are virtual communities designed and managed and what keeps them together?

This Ph.D. course will give an introduction to a variety of social and technical aspects of virtual communities / virtual environments / online meetingplaces.

The course was first given in the autumn of 2001. The 2004 course will be modified and to a higher extent emphasize and use games - especially so-called massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) - to exemplify different topics and principles.


The course will be given during the fall of 2004 (September to December). It will more specifically be held in the form of six full day seminars every second Tuesday, starting on September 14 (see schedule below). Each full day seminar will consist of a three-hour long session in the morning followed by lunch and another three-hour long session in the afternoon (i.e. between 09.15-16.00). This form is chosen so as to allow also non-Stockholm-based Ph.D. students to follow the course. The course will finish off with a final seminar in January 2005 when we will discuss the course papers.
Each full day seminar will treat two specific subjects (one in the morning and one in the afternoon). See the preliminary list below for possible subjects (but it will probably be modified before the course starts):
1. Community
2. Communities in cyberspace
3. Membership, leadership, career
4. Learning, teaching and education
5. Identity, gender, anonymity and deception
6. Cooperation and collective action
7. Conflict, control, power and governance
8. Social order, code of conduct, deviance
9. Sustainability, development and sociotechnical evolution
10. Money and economy
11. Technical challenges
12. Designing virtual communities
The literature for each full day seminar will be around 200 pages long (2*100 pages). All texts will be made available when the course starts.


Course participants will read a selection of texts in the form of articles and book chapters. The document below contains the 2001 readings for the course. Up to 50% of the literature on the list might change for the course that will be given in the autumn of 2004.

Litteratur 2001 (doc)

  • Each course participant is expected to read the literature before each seminar and actively contribute to the discussion.
  • Each course participant will take responsibility for presenting a subject and leading a discussion around that subject once during the course.
  • Each course participant will complete three (smaller) course assignments during the autumn. More detailed instructions will be given when the course starts.
  • Each course participant will write a concluding course paper (minimum 10 pages/5000 words). The paper should analyze a virtual community based on issues advanced in the course readings. More detailed instructions will be given when the course starts. The papers will be discussed at a final seminar in January 2005
  • Each course participant will be the discussant of someone else's course paper at a final seminar in January 2005

The course is limited to a maximum of 15 course participants. If more than 15 persons want to take the course, Ph.D. students from the Graduate School for Human-Machine Interaction have first priority. Other Ph.D. students (with technical or social science backgrounds) are also very welcome to take the course. Undergraduate students with relevant expericences are welcome to apply but Ph.D. students have priority to take the course.
You apply to the course by sending a one to two pages long "application" (preferably in English) to Daniel Pargman <>. In your text, please specify:

  • Your contact infomation
  • Experience/interest in the subject and why you want to take the course
  • How the course is connected to you research project/your interests
  • How you can contribute to the course

Do note that the applications will be distributed among the course participants so we can get to know each other better when the course starts!

Schedule (preliminary)
The schedule below is preliminary and there might be a need to make some changes before the course starts.

Information meeting 11-12 August 31
1st seminar 09-16 September 14
2nd seminar 09-16 September 28
3rd seminar 09-16 October 12
4th seminar 09-16 October 26
5th seminar 09-16 November 9
6th seminar 09-16 November 23
7th (reserve) seminar 09-16 December 7
Final seminar 09-16 January 11
The information meeting on August 31 is open for anyone who wants to know more about the course before it starts.
All seminars will be held in the conference room at KTH/NADA/Media Technology, Lindstedtsvägen 5. See for instructions for how to get there.