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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!

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Networked collaborations – ants, people and organizations

May 6, 2012

There are varying levels of networked collaboration with perhaps the most utopian example found in one of the most primitive of insects, the ant.   Benjamin Phelan discusses how the ants (and other insects) work so well together that their colony essentially creates an organism where each ant has a job to do to make the colony live – he describes it as each ant performs part of what becomes a superorganism (the parts of the colony join to make one “life form”).  Is this what mankind should be striving for?  Creating one harmonious world where every person does their part to ensure the greater good of the whole? Sounds wonderful, but certainly not attained through democracy!

A study of social network theory, and in particular how networks work within organizations, shows that organizations are not democratic environments.  Human organizations are run by leaders who are appointed (not voted in) and workers are expected to do as leaders say – kind of like the ant colonies.  As I look at this theory, though, I don’t think it holds true in reality.  Sure we don’t vote in the leaders of organizations, however, we choose where we work and in that way are choosing our own leaders.  We need to do what is deemed to be required by those leaders to be in the best interests of the whole, but we are able to vote with our feet if need be – it is still a choice (unfortunately for many the need for a pay cheque often outweights the need to make a statement).  Democracy doesn’t mean that everyone is free to make decisions, rather they have a voice and are free to make suggestions – in the end someone has to be responsible for the decision made – something like the queen ant’s role.  Even in open source environments, while everything is shared freely, the final product is chosen by someone to move forward with.  Linus Torvald makes decisions about what will be used and not used in the kernel all the time.  Democracy allows the informal relationships to bloom. Fortunately, for most people today, successful organizatons are becoming more adaptive and as such incorporating more horizontal structures, or you might say, becoming more democratic.  Horizontal structures are necessary for organizations to react to rapid changes and adapting is crucial to staying alive in our global market world. The employees voice is being sought and heard more often by organizations – however, the leaders still need to be there to make the hard decisions.

Benkler illustrates several examples of where people work together for the betterment of others on a volunteer basis.  While this seems like a utopian vision from a distance, when we look closer it is easy to see that decisions are still being made by one or two people.  Like the ant colony, there still needs to be someone running the show!

Theo Raadt is a local (Calgary) open source guru who has made huge contributions to the online world.  His personality is not one that people warm up to and he has been known to be a bit of a dictator, however, his open source contributions are great.  Like the ant colony, he allows the contributions of many, however, the final decision on what contributions are used is still his.