Social Software: Building Community in a Virtual Environment Sample Syllabus

Washington University in St. Louis

U48 Comm 326 Social Software: Building Community in a Virtual Environment
Summer 2005
Tuesdays/Thursdays 6:00-8:45 p.m.
14 June—4 August
Eads 211

Instructor: Scott Granneman

Adjunct Professor
Washington University in St. Louis
Don't Click on the Blue E!: Switching to Firefox (O'Reilly: 2005)
Hacking Knoppix (Wiley & Sons: 2005)
Linux Phrasebook (Pearson: 2006)
Podcasting with Audacity: Creating a Podcast with Free Audio Software (Prentice Hall: 2007)
Google Apps Deciphered: Compute in the Cloud to Streamline Your Desktop (Prentice Hall: 2008)
Mac OS X Snow Leopard for Power Users: Advanced Capabilities and Techniques (Apress: 2010)
Contributor, Ubuntu Hacks (O'Reilly: 2006) & Microsoft Vista for IT Security Professionals (Syngress: 2007)
Former columnist for SecurityFocus & Linux Magazine
Former professional Blogger for The Open Source Weblog (also see personal blog)
Full list of publications at /writing
Business Owner
Principal, WebSanity
Contact Info
scott at granneman dot com
314-644-4900 (office)
314-780-0489 (mobile)
Twitter: scottgranneman

Course Description

Social software has been defined as "software that supports group interaction." While not a new topic in technology, in the last few years social software has seen a renaissance of innovation as various factors—including the internet, broadband, wireless communications, and the rise of open source and open standards-based software—have coalesced to create exciting new possibilities for building communities in virtual environments. This course will examine the growth of social software by first reviewing the trends that have contributed to this growth, and then focusing on a different type of social software each week (including hands-on use of blogs, wikis, virtual gaming worlds, and web sites such as Friendster, Flickr, and

Required Texts & Resources

Readings will consist of articles, analyses, & ephemera from the Internet & other sources.


Your grade will be based on the following factors:

Grades will be based on an average of the above as follows:

94-100 A
89-93 A-
86-88 B+
83-85 B
79-82 B-
76-78 C+
73-75 C
69-72 C-
66-68 D+
63-65 D
59-62 D-
0-58 F

Projects and papers will be graded for correctness and completeness. All assignments turned in to me must be neatly typed using letter-quality type. Students failing to present the information completely, neatly, and in the prescribed format will receive minimal credit for their work. Students should double-check assignments for spelling and grammar before submitting them.

Accommodation of disabilities: If you have a disability that might affect your ability to complete the required assignments, please contact me during the first week of class to discuss an accommodation.

Academic Integrity

This course will follow Washington University's policies concerning academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty will result in failure for the assignment in question and/or referral to the college's Academic Integrity Office, which has discretion to impose a stricter penalty. While academic dishonesty includes cheating on exams and quizzes, it also includes plagiarism in written assignments. Plagiarism is not only passing off someone else's work as your own, but also giving your work to someone else to pass off as their own. It also includes submitting work from another course. Academic dishonesty includes the following:

  1. Cheating: Using or attempting to use crib sheets, electronic sources, stolen exams, unauthorized study aids in an academic assignment, or copying or colluding with a fellow student in an effort to improve one's grade.
  2. Fabrication: Falsifying, inventing, or misstating any data, information, or citation in an academic assignment, field experience, academic credentials, job application or placement file.
  3. Plagiarism: Using the works (i.e. words, images, other materials) of another person as one's own words without proper citation in any academic assignment. This includes submission (in whole or in part) of any work purchased or downloaded from a Web site or an Internet paper clearinghouse.
  4. Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: Assisting or attempting to assist any person to commit any act of academic misconduct, such as allowing someone to copy a paper or test answers.

While I strongly encourage you to discuss your work with each other in and out of class, and while you may research issues together, your writing should be your own. The papers you submit must be your work alone, and must include citations to all references in your work. Please include the URL, or Web address, for articles and resources found on the Internet.


It is paramount that we respect each other online in our email listserv. Follow this simple rule: disagree with the idea, but not the person. In other words, it's OK to say "That's a bad idea, because …", and it's not OK to say "You're a bad/stupid/inconsiderate person, because …". If you have an issue with a classmate's behavior online, please bring it to me privately by emailing me at scott at granneman dot com. If you'd like to find out more, please feel free to read The Core Rules of Netiquette, by Virginia Shea.



Topic: Introduction: Internet architecture
Date: Tuesday, 14 June 2005

Readings for this class:


Topic: What is social software?
Date: Thursday, 16 June 2005

Readings for this class:


Topic: Important technological trends affecting social software
Date: Tuesday, 21 June 2005

Readings for this class:


Topic: Advice & discussion web sites
Date: Wednesday, 23 June 2005

Readings for this class:


Topic: Using advice & discussion web sites
Date: Wednesday, 28 June 2005

Readings for this class:


Topic: Social networking services
Date: Wednesday, 30 June 2005

Readings for this class:


Topic: Using social networking services
Date: Wednesday, 5 July 2005

Readings for this class:


Topic: Blogs
Date: Wednesday, 7 July 2005

Readings for this class:


Topic: Reading & writing blogs
Date: Wednesday, 12 July 2005

Readings for this class:


Topic: Wikis
Date: Wednesday, 14 July 2005

Readings for this class:


Topic: Using wikis
Date: Wednesday, 19 July 2005

Readings for this class:


Topic: Games & virtual worlds
Date: Wednesday, 21 July 2005

Readings for this class:


Topic: Using games & virtual worlds
Date: Wednesday, 26 July 2005

Readings for this class:


Topic: Personal data sharing
Date: Wednesday, 28 July 2005

Readings for this class:


Topic: Using personal data sharing services
Date: Wednesday, 2 August 2005

Readings for this class:


Topic: Conclusions
Date: Wednesday, 4 August 2005

Readings for this class:

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