B20. 3135.W1
Alternative delivery
Spring 01
1.5 credits

Professor Lee Sproull



Classroom: MEC 1-70
Class time: Jan 6, 01 10 am--5 pm
                 Jan 7, 01 10 am--5 pm
                 Jan 21, 01 2:15 pm--5:15 pm

Instructor: Professor Lee Sproull
Office: KMC 9-73
Tel. (212) 998-0804
Fax (212) 202-4130
Email: lsproull@stern.nyu.edu
Web: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/~lsproull
Office hours: Jan 6 & 7: 9 am--10 am; 5pm--6pm
                    Other days: by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Jae Yun Moon
Email: jmoon@stern.nyu.edu
TA office hours by appointment

Course Secretary: Pat Kong
Office: MEC 9-170
Tel. (212) 998-0810
Email: okong@stern.nyu.edu


The substantial increase in household Internet connections has led to a dramatic rise in the number of people participating in large, Internet-enabled groups outside of the work context. Many are organized around recreation and entertainment; some are organized around civic and political issues; some are organized around personal needs for support or advice; some are organized around technical topics. With the publication of Net Gain in 1997 and the growth in Linux and other open-source technologies came the realization that these groups could be shaped into a source of business revenue.

The goals of this course are to introduce students to varieties of electronic communities, to provide frameworks for evaluating their usability and sociability, to evaluate alternative business models for electronic communities.

This 1.5-credit course will be offered primarily during winter intersession (with a 3 hour conclusion on 1/21) using technology support for a distance learning component. Class will meet Saturday January 6 from 10am to 5pm, Sunday January 7 from 10 am to 5 pm, and Sunday January 21 from 2:15 pm to 5:15 pm. There will be a distance component of the course scheduled between January 8 and January 16.


Please do all the required readings before the first class meeting. I will also provide a list of optional, background readings on the course web-site.

Your performance will be assessed as follows:

  1. 10% First community site analysis (team grade): due 2 pm 1/6
  2. 55% Final project (team grade)
  3. 15% Contribution to on-line discussion about other projects (individual grade): due 1/8--1/16
  4.  20% Reading practicum (individual grade): due 2 pm 1/21
    3-5 page paper critiquing any of the readings (from the required or optional list) and applying it to an on-line community issue, problem, or opportunity


Hardcopy readings will be available at the NYU bookstore by Dec. 17 or 18. The bookstore closes for Christmas break on Dec. 23 and does not reopen until Jan 2.

Preece, Jennifer. 2000. On-Line Communities: Designing Usability and Supporting Sociability. New York: John Wiley.

Armstrong, Arthur and John Hagel III. 1996. The real value of on-line communities. Harvard Business Review, May-June: 134-141.
Bobrow, Daniel G., Robert Cheslow, Jack Whalen. 2000. Community knowledge sharing in practice. Systems and Practices Laboratory: Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.
Forrester Research Report. May 1998. Community pipe dreams.
Marcus, M. Lynne, Brook Manville & Carole E. Agres. What makes a virtual organization work? Sloan Management Review, 42: 13-26.
Moon, Jae Yun and Lee Sproull. 2000. Essence of decision: The case of the Linux kernel. http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue5_11/moon/index.html
Raymond, Eric. 1998. The cathedral and the bazaar. http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral-bazaar/
Sproull, Lee S. and Samer Faraj. 1995. Atheism, sex, and databases: The net as a social technology. In Brian Kahin and James Keller (eds.), Public Access to the Internet, pp. 62-81. Cambridge: The MIT Press.
Williams, Ruth L. and Joseph Cothrel. 2000. Four smart ways to run online communities. Sloan Management Review, summer: 81-91.


January 6
10:00-11:30 am Introduction and what is a good community?
11:30-1:00 pm Community analysis factors
1:00-3:00 pm Working lunch in which groups analyze a community site
3:00-3:45 pm Presentation and discussion of community site analyses
3:45-4:15 pm Mini-lecture on task analysis
4:15-5:00 pm Mini-lecture on types of electronic communities

January 7
10:00-11:30 am Dynamics of participation
11:30-11:45 am Break sponsored by Langone program
11:45-1:45 pm Communities of practice and business communities
1:45-2:45 pm Working lunch in which groups work on team project
2:45-4:00 pm Electronic communities in the real world
4:00-5:00 pm Support groups

Jan 8-16 on-line
Four hours of on-line presentation and discussion of community analyses using Blackboard. Each group presents its community analysis and runs an electronic discussion of its analysis.Every member of the class is expected to participate electronically in the discussion of other group project.

Jan 21
2:15-5:15 pm Presentation of selected projects
Challenges and opportunities                         
Synthesis and wrap-up
Turn in final project
Evaluation of course