As you know we have been talking about this for a while and things are
moving forward. George Kaspar spoke to ACM about the idea and there is
interest in the idea of electronic volunteerism. As a result of his
feedback I prepared the first draft of a proposal, in which Blake has
incorporated his thoughts to produce the following product.
To keep things moving forward, we have attached some names of people who
may want to author the papers. I propose that EXOPCOM members comment on
this proposal and that some people step forward to accept responsibility
for expanding each of the proposed papers into 2-3 paragraphs before
submitting to ACM. We envisage that the papers will be quite short, in
line with recent special topics on CACM. If you name is not mentioned as
a possible author, then you may want to indicate the paper to which you
would like to contribute. One of the motivating ideas for this proposal
is to try to reward those people who have put a lot of time into ISWorld
without much of the way of traditional academic rewards to show for their
A proposal to Communications of the ACM
for a special section on voluntarism in an electronic world
Many organizations rely on volunteers for their day-to-day existence and
fulfillment of their goals. These organizations may be as large and global
as the Red Cross or as small and local as the neighborhood soccer team.
Volunteerism can attract people for a variety of reasons, including
altruism, religious beliefs, professional development, and a sense of
social obligation. Nearly all volunteer organizations are products of the
industrial era. The information age may portend significant changes in the
form, function, scope, and motivation of volunteerism. It can also
potentially alter the dynamics of volunteerism so that prior motivators
be less attractive while new motivators emerge.
We can envisage new forms of televolunteering such as an electronic peace
corps, which transports electronically the skills of the first world to
third. Imagine a situation where volunteers in the first world mentor
electronically millions in the third world. New functions are feasible.
world's IS academics are creating a global community of scholars though
development of ISWorld Net. They have a news means of creating and
disseminating knowledge that overcomes the tyranny of geography. The scope
of voluntary organizations such as ACM is already changing with the
introduction of a Web site and electronic publishing.
In the industrial era, volunteering was often a way of gaining acceptance
in local society. Social interaction was an important benefit, and
perhaps, for many, a major reason for volunteering. But what happens in an
electronic world where volunteers may never meet in a social setting? Is
there the same social prestige and respect accorded to a televolunteer as
the physical counterpart? Does electronic volunteerism have a future?
We propose to present four short papers that will stimulate consideration
of electronic voluntarism. The papers will draw on our experience in
creating and sustaining ISWorld for two years.
1. A case study in electronic volunteerism: ISWorld (Simha Magal & Munir
IS World is an early a model of televolunteering. A report on the geneses
and growth of ISWorld. A discussion of its structure and the creation of
standards. How to you make a patchwork quilt look like a silk blanket?
2. Designing a system for managing and rewarding electronic volunteers
(Blake Ives and Mike Vitale)
The coordination/governance mechanisms required to make ISWorld Net
operate. Implications for an academic world that rewards individualism and
pays little heed to citizenship
3. The cultural and global dimensions of televolunteering (Bob O'Keefe and
How do you build a global volunteer organization when cultural norms and
reward systems vary substantially? How do you build a system that is not
North-American centric? The problems of language and inequality of access.
4. Voluntarism in an information society (Rick Watson and George Kasper.)
What are the opportunities in an information society, and what are the
threats? How can voluntary organizations reinvent themselves? Why do
volunteer? Do the motivating factors change for virtual voluntary
Richard Watson [log in to unmask]
Department of Management Work phone (+1)-706-542-3706
University of Georgia Home phone (+1)-706-546-8590
Athens, GA 30602-6256 Fax (+1)-706-542-3743
World Wide Web address: http://www.cba.uga.edu/faculty/rick.html
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