Cognition Workshop 11/02/22: Dr. Natalie Velez

Studying large-scale collaborations in online communities
Humans have developed technological repertoires that have enabled us to survive everywhere from the tundra to the Earth’s orbit. However, it can be difficult to trace how these technologies came to be—folk histories of technological achievement often highlight a few brilliant individuals, while losing sight of the rest of the community’s contributions. In this talk, I will present ongoing work analyzing player behavior in One Hour One Life, a multiplayer online game where players can build technologically complex communities over many generations (N = 22,011 players, 2,700 communities, 428,255 lives lived, 127,768,267 interactions). This dataset provides a unique opportunity to test how community-wide expertise and division of labor shape technological development: Players can form communities that endure for many generations, and they can combine thousands of unique materials to build vast technological repertoires. Overall, we find that technological development is not driven merely by a few highly experienced players; instead, the division of labor and interactions between the community as a whole predict the pace of technological development. I will also discuss the opportunities and potential pitfalls of using “found” online datasets to study large-scale social phenomena.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *