x New: The order of the invited talks was changed. Please see the updated programme.
New: Alex Jaimes will give an invited talk titled "Social Machines and Their Role in Human-Centered Innovation".
New: Qingpeng Zhang will give an invited talk titled "Large-Scale Social Machine in China for a Decade: A Case Study of Human Flesh Search Engine".

The 2nd International Workshop on the Theory and Practice of Social Machines

A workshop at WWW2014
Seoul, Korea - 7 April 2014

Continuing from last year's Theory and Practice of Social Machines workshop at WWW2013, the second edition of the SOCM workshop will look deeply at social machines that have, or may yet soon have, a profound impact on the lives of individuals, businesses, governments, and the society as a whole in significant ways. Our goal is to study both extant and yet unrealized social machines, to identify factors that govern the growth or impede these systems to develop, and to identify unmet potential needs (both human and technical) for the kinds of loosely-coordinated distributed social systems the Web enables. The workshop will discuss methods to analyze and explore social machines, as essential mechanisms for deriving the guidelines and best practices that will inform the design the next generation of these systems.


The objective of the workshop is to bring together experts of various kinds of social machines, including crowd-powered systems, social networks, and online communities, to discuss the scope of this new scientific and engineering apparatus and to present specific tools that they have designed and applied to analyze social machines and their impact.

The goal is to discuss the latest theoretical frameworks and empirical insights around Social Machines, an emerging interdisciplinary field of research investigating Web-enabled systems governed by combinations of computational and social processes. As introduced in last year's workshop, we use the term "Social Machines" to refer to socio-technical systems which leverage the Web as a medium for communication, socialization, decentralized coordination, and peer production. This theme derives from concepts introduced by Tim Berners-Lee in his influential Weaving the Web book, in which he describes the Web as an engine to "create abstract social machines - new forms of social processes that would be given to the world at large".

Unlike conventional Turing machines, their social counterparts are comprised of loose collectives of people connected by computational communication substrates at their core. By being accessible to any individual with a Web browser, such social machines have demonstrated the ability to allow groups of individuals to accomplish major goals using methods of distributed coordination and crowdsourcing at unprecedented scales. However, studying and designing such systems also requires a new and fundamentally different set of instruments, which, though inspired by the mind set of Computer Science and Engineering, naturally embraces theories, findings, and scientific methodology from a variety of other disciplines in order to understand how human and machine intelligence could be best brought together to help individuals, businesses, governments and the society as a whole in significant ways. This includes languages and models to describe their function and operation; methods that can be applied to study and predict their behavior; as well as qualitative and quantitative studies of the ways in which these systems have evolved and grown to support community appropriation and the development of the social practice.


The workshop proposes a multidisciplinary discussion focused on the following three themes:

Studies: analytical and empirical studies of social machines that have changed the world, including:

  • Quantitative and qualitative aspects of online peer production and information exchange systems (multimedia sharing sites, auction sites, discussion forums, crowdsourced science, gamified customer relationship management, Wikipedia etc)
  • Incentives and motivation, and discussions of their broad implications.

Design: papers describing insights on the design of effective (extant and future) social machines, including:

  • Human-computer interfaces
  • Architectures and design patterns
  • Socio-cognitive computational primitives
  • Computational and social infrastructure

Methodology: papers describing approaches and methods studying social machines, including:

  • Languages and models
  • Taxonomies that define the constructs (dimensions/characteristics) that describe and differentiate current social machines when viewed as a collective
  • Web observatory installations
  • Complex ecosystems of systems and platforms bringing together social and algorithmic components
  • Evaluation and quality assessment techniques.

Although we do not wish to restrict discussion to these particular topics, we hope that these can serve as a basis that can be extended with additional topics of interest as assessed by submissions received.

Workshop format

The workshop will span a full day, commencing with a keynote introduction and closing with focused discussion session. During the workshop, we will have brief presentation of short papers submitted to the workshop, and an invited panel comprising speakers who selected by conference organizers who have done relevant studies and work on social machines.

Paper presentations will be given a 15-minute slot of which no more than, 10 minutes will be used for presentation; the rest of the time will be available for questions and discussion. Papers will be up to 5 pages long in ACM format. We are expecting to accept up to 12 papers.


Workshop participants must submit a short paper, which can be either a regular research paper, or a position paper, pertaining to the three themes of the workshop, listed above.

Papers should be at most 6 pages, including the abstract, references, and appendices, in ACM SIG template format (as per the WWW2014 research track). They must be submitted as PDF, formatted for US Letter size.

All submitted papers must be written in English and contain author names, affiliations, and email addresses. At least one author of each paper is expected to register for the workshop and attend to present the paper.

Please submit your paper to SOCM2014 on EasyChair.

Authors of accepted papers will be asked to sign the International World Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2) copyright form, if they wish their work to be included in the proceedings published by the ACM.

Important dates

14 January 2014Paper submission deadline
4 February 2014Acceptance notifications sent
12 February 2014Camera ready version deadline
7 April 2014Workshop day, in Seoul, Korea


The tentative schedule of the workshop includes:

09:00 - 09:15Welcome and opening
09:15 - 09:45Introduction to Social Machines
09:45 - 10:30Invited talk: Qingpeng Zhang (SEEM, CityU, Hong Kong): Large-Scale Social Machine in China for a Decade: A Case Study of Human Flesh Search Engine
10:30 - 11:00Coffee break
11:00 - 12:30Papers and discussion

11:00 - 11:15Harry Halpin. The Berners-Lee Hypothesis: Power laws and Group Structure in Flickr
11:15 - 11:30Segolene Tarte, David De Roure and Pip Willcox. Working out the plot: the role of Stories in Social Machines
11:30 - 11:45Max Van Kleek, Daniel Smith, Ramine Tinati, Kieron O'Hara, Wendy Hall and Nigel Shadbolt. 7 Billion Home Telescopes: Observing Social Machines through Personal Data Stores
11:45 - 12:00Marco Brambilla, Stefano Ceri, Andrea Mauri and Riccardo Volonterio. Community-based Crowdsourcing
12:00 - 12:10Leandro Nascimento, Vanilson Buregio, Vinicius Garcia and Silvio Meira. A new Architecture Description Language for Social Machines
12:10 - 12:30Open discussion
12:30 - 14:00Lunch break
14:00 - 14:45Invited talk: Alejandro (Alex) Jaimes, Yahoo!: Social Machines and Their Role in Human-Centered Innovation
14:45 - 15:30Papers and discussion

14:45 - 15:00Amy Guy and Ewan Klein. Constructed Identity and Social Machines: A Case Study in Creative Media Production
15:00 - 15:10Reuben Binns and David Matthews. Parsing Legalese with Social Machines
15:10 - 15:20Anni Rowland-Campbell, Wendy Hall and Thanassis Tiropanis. Government in a Social Machine Ecosystem
15:20 - 15:30Open discussion
15:30 - 16:00Coffee break
16:00 - 17:00Papers and discussion

16:00 - 16:15Dave Murray-Rust and Dave Robertson. LSCitter: building social machines by augmenting existing social networks with interaction models
16:15 - 16:30Vanilson Buregio, Leandro Nascimento, Nelson Rosa and Silvio Meira. Personal APIs as an Enabler for "Designing" and "Implementing" People as Social Machines
16:30 - 16:45Lei Zhang, Thanassis Tiropanis, Wendy Hall and Sung-Hyon Myaeng. Introducing the Omega-Machine
16:45 - 17:00Open discussion
17:00 - 17:30Conclusion and closing

Invited talk: Qingpeng Zhang (SEEM, CityU, Hong Kong)

Large-Scale Social Machine in China for a Decade: A Case Study of Human Flesh Search Engine


In this talk, I will first present our research on "human flesh search engine" (HFS engine), in which "human flesh" refers to human empowerment, a Chinese crowdsourcing phenomenon in which a large number of Web users voluntarily gathered together to find out the truth of an event or the information of a person that could not be identified by one single person or a computer program (i.e. search engines). I will describe the data-set of that we collected, and present the comprehensive empirical studies we have conducted, including the evolution of HFS in China, survey-based analysis of people's participating behaviors and motivation, topological features and a generative model of the social networks formed from HFS behaviors. I will conclude the talk with discussions of future research.

Short bio:

Qingpeng Zhang received the B.S. degree in Automation from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in 2009, and the M.S. degree in Industrial Engineering and the Ph.D. degree in Systems and Industrial Engineering with a minor in Management Information Systems from The University of Arizona, in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Prior to joining CityU, he worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate with The Tetherless World Constellation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His research interests include social informatics and social computing, complex networks and systems, semantic social networks, social machine, artificial societies and social simulation, Web science, and cyber-enabled social movement organizations.

Invited talk: Alejandro Jaimes (Yahoo Research, Barcelona)

Social Machines and Their Role in Human-Centered Innovation

Short bio:

I lead the Social Media Engagement Research (SOMER) and Learning for Multimedia and Vision (LMV) groups in Barcelona and Bangalore. My activities include performing research and setting the research strategies in those two areas, directly contributing to several Yahoo! products including Yahoo! News, Image and Video search, Flickr, and other media products. I previously worked at Telefonica, IDIAP-EPFL, Fuji Xerox, IBM, Siemens, and AT&T Bell Labs. I hold a Ph.D. from Columbia University. My research is on Human-Centered Computing, at the intersection of web-scale data analysis and user experience, with a particular focus on cultural differences in the context of social media and user engagement (social network analysis, data mining, user modeling, personalization, recommendations).


The principal organizers of the workshop are as follows:
  • Prof. Nigel Shadbolt (University of Southampton, UK) - Prof. Nigel Shadbolt is Head of the Web and Internet Science Research Group in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. He is a Director of the Web Science Trust, and the Web Foundation, and with Prof. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, served Information Advisor by the Prime Minister to help transform public access to Government information. A major output of this work has been the widely acclaimed data.gov.uk site - a single point of access for all Government non-personal public data. He is Principal Investigator on the SOCIAM project.
  • Prof. James Hendler (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA) - Prof. James Hendler is the Director of the Institute for Data Exploration and Applications and the Tetherless World Professor of Computer, Web and Cognitive Sciences at RPI. He also serves as a Director of the UK's charitable Web Science Trust. He has authored over 200 technical papers in the areas of Semantic Web, artificial intelligence, agent-based computing and high performance processing. One of the originators of the "Semantic Web", Hendler was the recipient of a 1995 Fulbright Foundation Fellowship, is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the British Computer Society, the IEEE and the AAAS. In 2010, Hendler was named one of the 20 most innovative professors in America by Playboy magazine and was selected as an "Internet Web Expert" by the US government. In 2012, he was one of the inaugural recipients of the Strata Conference "Big Data" awards for his work on large-scale open government data, and he is a columnist and associate editor of the Big Data journal. In 2013, he was appointed Open Data Advisor to New York State by Governor Cuomo.
  • Prof. Noshir Contractor (Northwestern University, USA) - Prof. Noshir Contractor is the Jane S. & William J. White Professor of Behavioral Sciences in the McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science, the School of Communication, and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, USA. He is the Director of the Science of Networks in Communities (SONIC) Research Group at Northwestern University. He is investigating factors that lead to the formation, maintenance, and dissolution of dynamically linked social and knowledge networks in communities. His book titled Theories of Communication Networks received the 2003 Book of the Year award from the Organizational Communication Division of the National Communication Association. Internationally, Professor Contractor has also conducted workshops on social network analysis and the management of knowledge networks in China, Finland, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Spain, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.
  • Dr. Elena Simperl (University of Southampton, UK) - Dr. Elena Simperl works as senior lecturer in the Web Science and Internet Research Group at the University of Southampton. Her research interests include knowledge engineering, Social Web technologies, and crowdsourcing. She has contributed and led over 15 national and European research projects and authored more than 75 scientific publications. She chaired the European Semantic Web Conference (ESWC) in 2011 and 2012 and the European Data Forum (EDF) in 2013. Elena was the coordinator of the European research project INSEMTIVES, which studied the characteristics and realization of incentives-compatible semantic applications with the help of social computing techniques, user-centered design, mechanism design, and game mechanics. She is the founder of semsphere GmbH, a professional training company in the area of semantic technologies.

Programme Committee

Supported by

The workshop is supported by the SOCIAM: The Theory and Practice of Social Machines project.


For more information, questions or comments, please contact lcd (at) ecs.soton.ac.uk .