Social Computing - SE595

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


In this module you will learn how people are using social computing resources, how anthropologists and others understand these activities, how to access and deploy these resources yourself, and how to leverage your participation to better understand social and cultural processes that are underway in social computing contexts.

In Social Computing we describe and analyse how people use and adapt new technologies to form and navigate cultural and social contexts, create and spread knowledge and undertake action emerging from computer-enhanced capabilities. Capabilities include the internet (including so call Web 2.0), clouds, augmented reality, robotics and virtual devices, wearable computers and sensors and artificial intelligence.

We begin by looking at the major theoretical paradigms and methods that have guided research on these in anthropology and related disciplines. In the remainder of the module we examine case studies of social computing based on different capabilities, using a took-kit that supports the creation and analysis of social computing capabilities and developing group and individual contributions to an on-going collective module project that will contribute to the Social Computing context.

Topics considered include the creative commons of open source, Web 2.0 and resource clouds, social networks, organisational change, reputation, social, lgel and ethical issues, mobile and ubiquitous computing and argmented reality. Topics discussed in class will provide ideas and models for student research projects.


Contact hours

4 x 1 Hour Lectures; 4 x 1 Hour Seminars; 8 x 2 Hour Workshops


Designed to augment the Social Anthropology degree. May be suitable for other School of Anthropology and Conservation programmes. Available to students in any programme.

Method of assessment

The module will be assessed by module participation (20%) and a module project (80%)

Indicative reading

Barabasi, A. L., 2002. Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What it
Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life London: Plume.

Dennis, R. A., et. al. 2005. Fire, People and Pixels: Linking Social Science and Remote Sensing to Understand Underlying Causes and Impacts of Fires in Indonesia. Human Ecology 33, 465-504.

Fielding, J. 2001. Coding and Managing Data. In Researching Social Life (ed.) N. Fielding. London: Sage.

Fielding, N. and R. Lee. 2008. Online Research. Sage, London.

Fischer, M. 1994. Applications in Computing for Social Anthropologists. Routledge, London.
White, Douglas and Ulla Johansen. 2004. Network analysis and ethnographic problems. Lexington Books

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding of theoretical concerns, methods, and findings of current empirical research in old, new and emerging contexts of cultural and social uses, resp0onses, adaptation to and adaptation of social computing.

Methods for data collection, analysis and interpretation of social and cultural formatons arising from social computing.

An understanding of the implications of nature, complexity and richness of human diversity and adaptation as influenced by social computing.

The cultural construction of social computing.

The interaction of social, cultural and biological aspects of human groups with social computing systems.

Ability to create social computing resources for research and reporting.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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