Investigating the dichotomy of sharing practices in virtual and physical realms: from theoretical overview to design considerations (SHA21.A)

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Type: Master
Status: Assigned March 2017
Student: Jeremías Albano

Online social networks have made sharing personal experiences with others – mostly in form of photos and comments – a common activity. Nowadays the scope of user-generated and shared content on the net varies vastly from personal media to individual preferences to physiological information (e.g. in form of daily workouts). Popular “sharing economy” services (e.g. AirBnB, Uber) and connected devices are expanding the set of “things” one can share. Given that a new generation of sharing services is about to emerge, it is of crucial importance to understand how traditional sharing practices inform and support designers of those services. This project will look into consolidating the existing body of work on both sharing personal digital content (e.g., on social networking sites, through photo sharing apps) and personal physical possessions (e.g., apartment sharing). The project aims to identify commonalities and differences between digital and non-digital context sharing, in particular summarizing existing research on motivations to share, audience management, privacy and trust issues, and user experience requirements. If possible, these findings should be connected to contemporary theories of social psychology and practice theory. The final results of this project would be: (1) a comprehensive account of the existing body of knowledge on content and resource sharing practices; (2) a set of design considerations that allows designers and developers to build future sharing services to enable sharing activities bridging virtual and physical realms. This projects requires strong analytical skills and a willingness to learn about a novel and emerging research field. Experience with interdisciplinary research literature a plus (e.g., seminar work in human-computer interaction) though supervising guidance is available.

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