Howard T. Welser

Howard T. Welser completed his PhD in sociology from the University of Washington.  He studies how the intersection of institutions and social interaction can shape collective outcomes.  For instance: how might competition for status affect contribution to online discussion groups?   How might systems that record and publicize group members’ contributions affect levels of investment and retention?   In addition to status achievement in avocations he is interested in the development of institutions and social roles, the emergence of cooperation, and network structure in computer mediated interaction.

His current work leverages the flood of data from computer mediated systems of interaction to study general social processes, an interest that grew through collaboration with researchers in the Community Technology group at Microsoft Research.   This research has focused on how social networks can reveal key details of social processes.  One project tracks how structural features of bloggers’ local networks can predict continued participation. Another project studies how structural signatures can reveal social roles in online interaction, which can help users of those settings to distinguish authors likely to provide good advice from those peddling bunk.

His collaborations at the ISS studied social interactions in Wikipedia, including projects on social network structure, diffusion of innovations, the success of groups and decision making processes.  This work was part of a growing community of researchers at Cornell who were using data from large scale computer mediated systems like Wikipedia to study general social processes. 




   Department of Sociology & Anthropology
Ohio University
Bentley Annex 162
Athens, Ohio 45701