CrowdCamp Report: Wedo – A Computer Supported Collective Action System

On January 20th, hundreds of students from local Vancouver schools organized an anti-bullying flash mob at a Vancouver Giants Hockey Game. The students wore bright pink shirts while dancing to music blasting from the arena speakers. What was in their pockets? a smart phone with instructions from their leader about what to do next.

At crowdcamp, we asked whether we could use technology to engage the crowd not just in mobilization but also in rapid ideation. We wanted to do so in a way that felt deeply democratic to the participants and facilitated equitable participation among the participants by distributing leadership.

Hoaqi Zhang, Andres Monroy-Hernandez, and Liz Gerber prepare for collection action during the CSCW 2013 banquet in San Antonio, TX

Hoaqi Zhang, Andres Monroy-Hernandez, and Liz Gerber prepare for collection action during the CSCW 2013 banquet in San Antonio, TX

Relying on our team of computer scientists, sociologists, psychologists, management scientists, and designers, we hacked together a Twitter based system called WeDO that enables crowd (rather than a leader or leadership team) to transition between the critical steps of collection action:

  • identify a problem
  • generate solutions
  • deliberate & select
  • recruit
  • mobilize & act.

While individual tools exist for certain stages of collective action, few tools join the steps together so ideas (and people) don’t get lost along the way. Initial trials, (called WeDo1 and WeDo2),suggests that the WeDo system can effectively trigger transitions between steps. Further testing is needed to understand how WeDo made the process more democratic and encouraged more equitable participation among the participants.

Look out for future work by the Wedo Research Team

Shelley Farnham, Microsoft
Liz Gerber, Northwestern U.
Eric Gilbert, Georgia Tech.
Benjamin Mako Hill, MIT
Peter Kinnaird, Carnegie Mellon U.
Patrick Minder, University of Zurich
Andres Monroy-Hernandez, Microsoft
Sean Munson, University of Washington
Aaron Shaw, Northwestern U.
Lisa Yu, Carnegie Mellon U.
Hoaqi Zhang, MIT