Archive for May, 2012

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Social capital at its best

May 20, 2012

After a day of house cleaning to get my life outside academia back in order, I am back at it today feeling ready to tackle the last assignments.  I have enjoyed my face-to-face learning – who wouldn’t with such a great group of colleagues and instructors!  We created a social network a year ago when we met, the ties strengthened over the past year in our online learning and in the past three weeks we have created a dense network.  What has impressed me the most about this group is the kindness and collaboration that abounds.  We truly do want to make each other better – help each other out.  In so doing we have raised the entire group up.  Our social capital is so rich! Sheldon wouldn’t understand it, but Penny would be proud!  I am truly honored to be associated with the MACT 2011 cohort!

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Silence cannot be taken away

May 17, 2012

This blog post focuses on Zizek’s article “Occupy First. Demands Come Later“.  I find the entire article worth the read, but what really caught my attention were the last two paragraphs.  Zizek’s proclamation that protestors need to remain silent and not come up with solutions as requested by the politicians was insightful to me.  According to Zizek, politicians push for protestors to provide their suggestions early on so that they can quickly discredit them as solutions that will not work, thereby giving the politicians permission to continue on with the status quo.  In Zizek’s words,  “time is needed to deploy the new content… All we say now can be taken from us – everything except our silence”.  The demands of business and government to label the movement to be about something tangible was very real.  The inability for anyone to articulate it was also real.  Yet that hole where the answer should be needs to remain silent, until we figure it out.  The problem has been identified – the solution cannot be rushed.

I think it is ironic  that one of the final readings for COMM 506 is about the value of silence – not exactly what we have been doing for the last three weeks!

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Social media is not a revolution but rather an opportunity

May 16, 2012

Malcolm Gladwell, in his article Small Change, Why the Revolution will not be Tweeted makes the point that it is not Twitter and Facebook that are the face of revolutions, but rather the people who are on the street in the flesh, fighting for their cause. While I agree that social media is not the revolution, I would have to say that it is an important part of it.  Information in this globally connected world is power.  Whether the people in Iran used Twitter to get their cause organized or not, does not take away from the fact that they likely knew that their cause would get a global audience through social media and that was an important part of their revolution – even if they weren’t successful in their own country, they likely knew that the information about what they were trying to do would reach a global audience.

As Clay Shirky says, “Behavior is motivation filtered through opportunity…and new technologies have, across the board, created new opportunities for people to DO things.”  The people of Iran were motivated through opportunity – the opportunity afforded by social media.

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Where is the line between privacy and freedom of access to information

May 15, 2012

It is easy to proclaim that we should have free access to information, but when does this freedom infringe on the rights to privacy of information?  It is easy to get up in arms when we see the government withholding information to which we feel entitled.  On the other hand, when we see access to information as infringing upon our private lives, we see things differently.  Being in healthcare I am more than aware of confidentiality requirements and FOIPP.  I would not be comfortable with health information becoming available to the public as I can see all kinds of potential abuses, including decisions made by insurance companies that could affect individuals’ lives.

Julian Assange uncovered a lot of corruption, but do the ends justify the means?  Assange invaded privacy under the premise of uncovering government secrets and exposing illegal activity.  He is enraged by the government’s access to information in the name of homeland security and yet he too violates privacy rights to get what he wants. I see it along the same premise as violence breeds violence – corruption also breeds corruption.

A recent article that shows a few examples of how police have uncovered suspects by Facebook illustrates our dilemma – what information is free information and what is private?

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Poster References for MACT Students Scrambling to Be the Best that They Can Be!

May 12, 2012

In the fall I attended the University of Alberta Faculty of Extension seminar on making posters.  I sharing the PDF of PPT Poster Presentation that was distributed for this session as well as a Poster Presentation Info.pdf they handed out which I have scanned for your referral.  Lots of info for you to refer to – use as you need!  Remember we are in this together and we’ll all make it through!

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Social capital explained through The Big Bang Theory

May 11, 2012

The Big Bang Theory  (the TV sitcom, not the start of civilization – although I must say dissecting Kadushin has been a bit of what I might call an evolution – sorry I am digressing once again!) has helped me teaze out the concepts of social capital.  Please watch the episode of Penny’s Christmas gift to Sheldon to see what I mean and then feel free to look at  my PowerPoint which explains some of my take-aways from Kadushin’s chapter on Social Capital through the Big Bang Theory lens.

Yes I continue to use mindless TV programming to understand Master’s level concepts – this may be a bit of a worry!

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War over the wires

May 10, 2012

It wasn’t so long ago that electronic warfare was being fought by militaries.  The computer technology aboard new jet fighters in the military initiated the electronic warfare era where enemies tried to improve the software aboard their aircraft to increase their ability to “see” the enemy and decrease their enemy’s ability to see them.  It was a cat and mouse game played out in the skies above us and lands far from us.

It is appropriate that electronic warfare specialists have become the experts in network security.  Now their job is ensuring security features are in place on websites and sometimes finding out who hacked in when the security is lacking.  It is the cat and mouse game all over again, just in a battlefield – one less defined and more difficult to conceptualize.  One of Canada’s most reputable organizations that once dealt with fighter jet security and now deals with network security is EWA Canada – and yes the EWA stands for Electronic Warfare Associates!

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And they told 2 friends, and they told 2 friends, and so on, and so on….

May 9, 2012

In the recent provincial election, I think there were some excellent examples of how social networks influenced the diffusion of information.  I will speak to this from a personal perspective.  I have a twenty-one year old daughter who was informed, but undecided until just before election day.  The campaign on YouTube regarding strategic voting is what helped her and many of her friends decide who to vote for.  This campaign effectively diffused the message to a group of early adopters at just the right time.  They were ready to hear it as they didn’t know who to vote for and this helped them make that decision at the last minute.  The video I have linked to is definitely aimed at young people (there are many more on You Tube you can look up as well).  If we try to relate this example to some of the key points from Kadushin this week, this is how I see it:

  • Diffusion -YouTube was used to quickly and effectively diffuse the message
  • Tipping Point – release of the videos caught all those people wondering who to vote for at just the right time
  • Threshold – the diffusion and adoption happened so quickly, it is hard to say if a threshold was reached – I guess it would have happened at the voting stations
  • S-Shaped curve – I think because of the short timeframe, the curve would have reflected a very short early adopter stage followed quickly by “late” adopters – who really weren’t that “late”!
  • Influencers – young people depicted in a video, speaking the language of their intended audience, highlighting their doubts and fears and essentially telling them it is okay to vote for someone they may not like as long as it isn’t the Wild Rose Party.  In this case, the video actors served as a model that had an opinion.
  • Causality – fear of a “radical” party getting in caused young voters to vote strategically
  • Opinion leaders – in this case friends of my daughter connected via social media to discuss whether strategic voting was the right thing to do – they collaborated and then made up their own minds.  I’m not sure if anyone in particular stood out – it was more about the conversation and influence of the actors in the video. In this case persuasion rather than merely making information available was what was important.
  • Betweeness – the groups of young voters were linked by the concept and persuasion of the videos – these were groups that might not otherwise have been connected – new ideas came from the periphery and were definitely unconventional
  • Peer group influence – not much need to explain this one!
  • Concentrated exposure – this was definitely at play – quick blasts from social media followed by lots of chatter among the members of that social group meant the influence also came from all directions.
  • Rewiring small worlds – this was at play where the voting norms were turned on their head with a new strategic plan – it was new, radical and gave young people a voice which they felt could make a difference.

Networks, influence and diffusion…definitely alive and well in Alberta politics!  For those who were not watching TV in the 80’s and are wondering where the heading for this post came from click here to find out!

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May 9, 2012

After today’s in class discussion around the Prisoner’s Dilemma, I had to share this clip of a UK gameshow that illustrates this concept beautifully.  Please scroll down on the webpage to the video clip – you’ll see what I mean!

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Social networks – the red thread

May 8, 2012

How many times have you heard “it’s such a small world”?  Every time we make a link to someone through someone else, it seems like a miracle that we know them.  When we realize that our interests create social networks that bring those with similar interests in focus and increase the chances of knowing someone within that world, it makes a bit more sense and doesn’t seem like such a crazy coincidence.  I think the size of someone’s world (their social network) is directly proportional to the person’s willingness to communicate and make connections.

I work with someone that has incredible stories of connections regularly – so many you start to wonder how she could connect with so many people so often.  But when you get to know her, you understand why.  She is so friendly and caring and is always going out of her way to help others and get to know them by making connections with them.  She is a definite people person!  I have to relay the most amazing connection I have heard her tell me, which really had nothing to do with her, but rather with her husband, Peter, (who is also a people person) and her son, Kyle (who by association is likely social as well).

Her son was living in Vancouver and was invited to a birthday party one evening.  He didn’t really feel like going, but felt he should probably make an appearance.  Unbeknownst to him, a girl named Danielle was also invited to that party and had considered not going, but decided she needed a break from her studies so would go for an hour or so.  Well needless to say, Danielle and Kyle met – the birthday boy was known to both of them for different reasons.  They hit it off and started dating.  After their first official date, they started making connections that seemed unbelievable.  It turns out that Kyle’s Dad had stayed with Danielle’s parents in Hong Kong over 25 years ago.  The link was that they were all missionaries.  While Kyle knew his Dad had been to Hong Kong, he didn’t know anything about the people he had stayed with.  Kyle’s Dad hadn’t stayed in touch with Danielle’s parents and had no contact with them following his visit.  Danielle was raised in Hong Kong and had come to Vancouver to attend post secondary.  Long story short, Kyle and Danielle were married this past January and  Kyle’s Dad was reunited with Danielle’s parents at the wedding.  They even found a picture of Danielle and Kyle’s Dad – she was a toddler helping him pack his suitcase for his return back to Canada 25 years ago.  A coincidence?  No.  A robust social network? Yes!

Danielle and Kyle may have both been raised in different countries, however, the red string that tied them together was their common religious faith background.  Their faith background had them socializing in the same circles.  Their meeting may have been a chance meeting, however, not chance as we might first think considering they lived in a big city and were raised half a world apart. Propinquity and homophily definitely played a role in this meet up!