BLOG POST: The Norm Experiment
According to the dictionary, a norm is "behavior that is expected" (OED). For this assignment, you are a social scientist trying to discover norms related to communication technology.
Part I: Sign-Up for one of the norm experiments from the Password Protected norm experiment sign-up sheet on moodle [Get Password Help]. Include the text of the experiment description at the beginning of your blog post (e.g., copy and paste it). To receive credit for the assignment, you must sign up for an experiment that is not full.
Part II: Conduct the experiment as it is described and observe the reactions of witnesses as carefully as possible. To successfully complete the assignment, you may not explain that you are conducting an experiment for a class until after the experiment has been completed. (For some experiments, you may never have to explain it.) You may not let anyone else in on the secret. Do not perform this assignment with other people from this class. If you are challenged during the experiment, act as if the way you are behaving is normal. Do not explain yourself.
In part II, write what happened. First, describe the reactions to your efforts, keeping your witnesses anonymous. If someone spoke to you, write as accurate a transcript of what they said as you can. If body language or facial expressions were important, describe them. If portions of text messages or emails are part of a reaction, include them. Describe any norms that you think your results may illustrate. Use the reactions you described to discuss the strength of the norms and how they might work.
Part III. Using specific examples from what you found out, state a norm related to your experiment (or if you like you can state more than one). Then, explain one way that the design of communication technologies and this norm are related.
There are many ways to answer this question. For instance, you might explain how a particular feature of a communication technology confirms or violates a norm. Or you might explain how some communication technology requires new norms to be created for it. Or you might explain how new communication technology has led to a change in norms. Or you could explain how a potential new communication technology failed because it didn't conform to norms. Please use specific examples (from your experiment, from class, or both) to illustrate your answer.
IMPORTANT: You will automatically receive a zero for this assignment if you break either of these two rules:
- No information that could personally identify one of your witnesses can appear in your blog post. (No names, no photos, no recordings! Make it clear you are using pseudonyms so that you don't have a problem with this requirement. Example: you could write "Person A" or "I will call the first witness 'Jane Doe'.")
- You must write about your witnesses in a manner and tone that is respectful. For instance, your description of a reaction must not sound like you are making fun of the witness.
Tips and Advice:
- Your choice of experiments may range from 15 minutes of concentrated effort, to sporadic effort over a few days. Plan ahead!
- Conduct yourself in a professional manner at all times.
- Be polite and treat others respectfully.
- Although some of these experiments might be embarrassing, you should not scare anyone and you should not place anyone at risk.
- Do not use recording devices or photographs in this assignment.
- Do not write notes during the experiment if you can be observed writing them.
- You don't have to attach a photograph or picture for this assignment. (Optionally, you could attach a diagram if it is helpful and it does not reveal the identity of your witnesses - example: a diagram of body language or the scene of your experiment.)
This assignment must be at least 300 words (about 1 page). Part I -- restating the assignment -- does not count toward the word limit.
DEADLINE: Post your blog entry by 11 a.m. -- one hour before class begins. (You may want to select your topic as soon as you can.)
Due on March 11, 2009.
This is the Web site for SPCM 199, Communication Technology and Society, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.