Weeds in my garden and rhizomes on the net

Gabriella Coleman’s article on the growth of Anonymous is a lot like the landscaping project in my front yard. I pull up one weed, ten more grow back in its place. Peaceful resistance.

We are legion. We do not forgive. We are here to stay. Expect us.  Together we rise up.

So I think it’s important to look at not just what is going on at the surface, but to dig deeper in the soil to understand the undercurrents. All placed within different social contexts, everything could be seen as a weed. Sarah Palin is a weed to Assange as Anonymous is a weed to Scientologists. It all depends what side of the fence you’re sitting on, and who is holding the power. People have decided that their will is not being carried out and want to speak out about the corruption in their realm.

I am listening to Tom Cruise’s scientology rant and I’m thinking “is this for real?” Is another prize-winning performance? He really sees the world this way. He says “As a Scientologist, we see the world as it is.” “You’re either in or you’re out” “It’s our responsibility to create a new reality” “I think about the people who are depending on us”

Wow. That is really something. Have a listen. I have appreciated in this class and throughout our MACT journey that we’ve been able to try on different lenses through which to see the world, but the Tom Cruise goggles are hurting my head- get them off!

Weak Tie Revolts More Vulnerable?

Malcolm Gladwell’s piece in the New York Times calls into the questions the tools like Twitter for modern day activism.  Moldova’s revolution happened with very few people even owning Twitter accounts. There was no twitter revolution in Iran.

To dig deeper into this claim, he references the 1960 sit-ins and nonviolent protests of young black people defying societal norms of where they could be served at the Greensboro lunch counter. The common thread with all of these protests and revolutions is that high-risk activism is a “strong-tie” phenomenon. Within these groups, it was found that the informal ties mattered. One study of the Red Brigades, the Italian terrorist group, found that 70% of the members already had a close friend involved.

So it boils back down to our interactions, our connections. Some tools manage what we already have in terms of connections. Social media tools also let us scale up the bridging and bonding ties, enlarging our reach and reducing barriers to participation.

So is Twitter helping to enable weak-tie activism? And is weak-tie activism as effective? After all, the bonds and redundancies in these networks would not be as strong.  Perhaps then this is why you have such a range of people for protests such as the student protests- those at the highest level of political reform and those who just want to break some **it. It would stand to reason then that our new age of activism, although more widespread, may not be as cohesive and bonded, and easier to dissolve.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_gladwell#ixzz1us6RHC2a

Subway Smokeouts and Social Justice

The Quebec Student Strike and Social Justice Movements

As we continue our COMM506 journey we see how technology layers and adds scale to the way we act as a society.  The Girls Near Me app is dangerous on its one, it’s the social actions behind it that make it unpalatable. But as we said in class, the base concept of the application may not have been. It’s not the tool that is evil, it is the way we choose to use them. The tools amplify and scale up our social behaviours.

Our collective actions online have enabled collaborative behaviours online- social movements have more capabilities to manoeuver as leaderless democracies. The linking of the networks no longer has to be chains- they are strengthened by the interconnected ties. The networked nature of our organizations can now cross physical lines and formed new types of democracy.

Recently in the news has been the striking of the Quebec students. Has this movement turned to an armed uprising? Is their goal to effect social change and reduce tuition fees, or is it geared towards more terrorist tactics intent on disruption? How does a conscious effort for democracy go wrong? The marginalized get hijacked by other segments of society. This piggy-backing by anarchists are at the edges of the movement, but they can take centre stage in getting issues addressed. The irony in this situation is that their actions, now that they have been stepped up to subway smokeouts are only furthering the chasm between the two groups. Dialogue is less and less likely as actions escalate and the groups cut each other off from each other.

Sometimes attention has to be called to certain matters, I get that. But is invoking the fear of everyday citizens the right kind of drama? Making something media-worthy on the internet these days is pretty tough, granted, with all of our produsage and pro-amateur endeavours. Is it right to embrace a variety of tactics to get the attention of the masses in order to have your agenda highlighted? Lots of questions, but I don’t have too many answers I’m afraid. We are struggling to have democracy be relevant.

During the video played, I couldn’t look away from the police officers. How many of them really wanted to go forward and disperse the crowds with violence? There was more fear in the police’s eyes than the protesters huddled against the pepper spray. Didn’t know a movie was made about it Battle in Seattle.

Embedded journalism versus citizen journalism activists. What is being portrayed and what is happening on the scene can be very different.  In comparison, the Seattle protests in 1999 was very different from the Occupy movement- embedded media made sure that the public saw a tolerant approach to dispersing the protests. You’d really have to look for indy footage that contradicts mainstream media imagery. But government still invoked laws like having to take down their camps for safety and hygiene reasons. So maybe it was just a loophole to shut down the action.

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Are You A Facebook Addict?

How to Tell if You’re Addicted to Facebook

This article originally published at BusinessNewsDaily here and a friendly rebuttal to Leah’s blog http://leahmcyyc.wordpress.com/

The #COMM506 Facebook snob pushback: Check out Andrea’s blog http://sask-girl-adventures.blogspot.ca/

If your friends and family joke that you’re addicted to Facebook, they may be right. Researchers in Norway have identified six signs that you may be addicted. They’ve used those signs to develop a test to help you figure out of your suffer from a social media addiction.

The test, called the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, is based on six basic criteria, where all items are scored on the following scale: (1) Very rarely (2) Rarely (3) Sometimes (4) Often and (5) Very often. The signs are:

  • You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or plan use of Facebook.
  • You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.
  • You use Facebook to forget about personal problems.
  • You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success.
  • You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook.
  • You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.

If you are, indeed, addicted, you’re not alone, the researchers say.

“The use of Facebook has increased rapidly. We are dealing with a subdivision of Internet addiction connected to social media,” said Cecilie Schou Andreassen, who conducted the study.

Andreassen heads the research project “Facebook Addiction” at the University of Bergen (UiB) in Norway. The results of her research have just been published in the journal Psychological Reports.

Andreassen said she sees some clear patterns in Facebook addiction.

“It occurs more regularly among younger than older users. We have also found that people who are anxious and socially insecure use Facebook more than those with lower scores on those traits, probably because those who are anxious find it easier to communicate via social media than face-to-face,” she said.

People who are organized and more ambitious tend to be less at risk from Facebook addiction. They will often use social media as an integral part of work and networking.

“Women are more at risk of developing Facebook addiction, probably due to the social nature of Facebook,” Andreassen said.

Andreassen said the research also shows that Facebook addiction was related to extroversion. People with high scores on the new scale further tend to have a somewhat delayed sleep-wake rhythm.

The study was based on 423 students — 227 women and 196 men.

Despite Andreassen’s findings, others are not as convinced about Internet-based addictions.

“There are often underlying or co-occurring psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, depression or a disturbance in interpersonal relationships, all of which may explain the person’s Internet problems,” Ronald W. Pies, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Tufts University told BusinessNewsDaily sister site LiveScience for a 2009 article. “The question is, do we need another ‘disorder’ in the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), if the manifestations of Internet addiction can already be accounted for by well-described and better-validated conditions?”

That, however, doesn’t mean that Pies is writing off the possibility of Internet-based addictions. Rather, he believes that better research is needed to quantify these behaviors.

“We may eventually come around to the view that Internet addiction is a discrete mental disorder, but that will require carefully designed research aimed at linking Internet addiction with family and genetic factors, biological concomitants and responses to specific treatments,” Pies said.

This article originally published at BusinessNewsDaily here.

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The Socio-Digital

The socio-digital. Love that term from Sassen.

Decentralized access, simultaneity and interconnectivity from the digital network repurposes our activities. The outcomes can oscillate between more openness and more control. Digitization is transformative. Our tools are embedded in the social. And it is flawed to group them all together in one basket. Power is upended.

Have-not conversation- digital markets are a natural part of complex institutional settings. Not unlike Dr. Curry saying how records are kept by the companies that have money- the have nots have no paper trail. The have-nots have no digital trail. I kind of imagine this digital oozy snail trail in cyberspace, maybe kind of glittery and fading with time, but this evanescent webbing layering over and over.

That’s the positive light of being trackable.  There’s a whole other side of being surveilled. We learn as we go about the trade off of our digital existence. Rebecca MacKinnon reminds us that the people in charge of our digital lives operate, for the most part, as benign kings. What I am realizing is that democracy is try to adapt to digitization. Her CBC podcast.

When speaking of the supranational electronic market space, it comes back to the theme of trust for me. RIM shares go down if the public loses faith, markets shake if the populace does not believe that Greece can get their **it together. We are a globally networked system. And the tools we use are a reflection of ourselves.


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That’s What She Said

Michael Scott


Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=michael+scott&f=hp

Shereef Bishay on open enterprise 

What would a new agreement of work look like? Do we all dream of having a exposed brick workplace that has a coffee maker named Darren that makes lattes for you with foam artfully crafted as a unicorn?

We all look wistfully at greener pastures. Some of us found out through our organizational communications theory course that our workplaces varied greatly in terms of how vertically or horizontally inclined they are.

Shereef got us jazzed on the open enterprise model. What would this upended structure of our workplace look like?

1. No job titles.  Just the label of Human Being. There can be a functional hierarchy where not everyone was leading at the same time.

Example of such a company–W.L. Gore.  You are an associate. You own part of the company. You are voted in as a leader.

2. Transparency. Making employee culture the number one thing. We then start to feel trust and ownership.

3. True meritocracy. Based on the merit of the idea itself, not from the person.

We need to invent these new and intelligent was to aggregate our work to have our tenets of democracy carry over to where we work.

Think about walking into work tomorrow if these 3 concepts were applied to your workplace. Would everything come to a crashing halt with the executives crying and curled up in the fetal position, mailroom ladies tipping over filing cabinets in a frenzied mob mentality?

This brings me to a not-so-real life example from The Office.  Concept #3 of a true meritocracy is definitely at play when Darryl from the warehouse is brought upstairs to the executive level. He brought up a great idea and was promoted on the basis of his idea alone on how to improve paper processes. Take a COMM506 break and chill out on the meritocracy of Scranton’s paper company.

Ah… it’s a good day when we can find a connection this straight up and big from The Office.That’s what she said.

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In reading Kadushin’s Chapter 8 on small network theory, it really reminds me of The Oracle of Bacon.  According to Kadushin, it should not be surprising at all that Kevin Bacon is well connected to all other actors. Druggies know druggies, execs know execs. It’s assortive distribution in action. Homophily- people with like attributes and interests-flock together.

Although what he delves into is mostly commonsense, his term of linker is an interesting one. How many linkers do you know? Prior to this I would have referred to these people as mavens.  I would think that Hummingbird604 is a linker, connecting otherwise isolated circles. It jumps me to Dianne’s blog, talking about the lego building and how there is crosspollination. A hummingbird is just that- helping the ecosystem spread and flourish, exchanging along its path valuable info.

I just had an great experience on Twitter- I found an exchange teacher from another province in Canada who tweets and blogs.  Check out his cool blog! In light of this course I was curating and adding people to my network. Okay, maybe it was a good distraction to doing other MACT assignments. In any case, I followed him, and now we have connected online. I supplied him with a list of our fellow bloggers who are on exchange, so now he can get a real bird’s eye view of going to live and teach in another country. Maybe now there will be a cross-pollination nationally…. wouldn’t that be cool. It would not even be that far-fetched that he would be on exchange close to where one of our Albertans would be assigned to, and they might be able to connect even before they go on their teaching assignment, building those valuable support networks.

Anyway, I think I smell bacon. Better go. No wait, that’s my brain frying…..

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Internet Access Here

One of the concepts that resonates with me is the challenge of offering universal access to these networks. Even free social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter present challenges to access in terms of the haves and have-nots. Free sites still have barriers for those with limited internet or computer access. Those of us lucky enough to have portable devices have distinct advantages over those who do not.

Politics are also at play for access- the control of bandwidth- limiting customers’ usage will have huge consequences in terms of who can afford to download freely. Fighting for the access to this commodity will shape the future of the web. It’s still the Wild West in a lot of ways, with everyone going ahead to stake out their territory, making that incredible Berner-Lee’s  topographical map. Benkler chimes in that communities can now spring up free from the constraints of time and space, and does not result in alienation. The participation can lead to a richness in ties. But I don’t think this includes the forgotten  ghetto of non-users. Who are those feeling like they are on the other side of the fence, like Marc’s wife in her interview situation with her cane.

But Berners-Lee urges us not to forge ahead unthinkingly in our path to structure our webbing structures- to thoughtfully steer our ship towards a goal to orchestrate a purposeful path for the web.

Tim Berners-Lee conveys that he is just part of the layering of the tapestry- that he added to the existing bricks and mortar already in place. He has that Wikipedian mindset-at first thinking that the web is like a wiki that anyone can edit, but then goes further to urge forward thinking and planning to the unfinished W3 project.

His view of the Web as a body of living intelligence follows the same metaphorical language as the organization as an organism in organizational communications theory. At what point do our tools and constructs become separate entities from the user? Do they go beyond the role of enhancer to have a life of their own? Just as we learn that we shape our tools, to what extent do they shape and influence us?

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Plankton Avatar by srkL

On plankton

Shirky’s talk about the media landscape- how media is social, ubiquitous, and cheap. The change is that now our media is natively good at supporting conversations. We know have many to many communication.  The digitization of information has turned media on its head-a site of coordination no longer controlled from the top down. Media is now interactive. We are producers of information, part of the ProAm revolution. Change in the media landscape. Still changing patterns. Earthquake was reported as it was happening.

Where do I check for traffic jams? CBC radio? Nope.–Twitter. I can remember being stuck on Highway #2 between Edmonton and Calgary, and not knowing what was causing the problem, I quickly hopped on Twitter to discover there were disgruntled drivers stuck in traffic 30 km north of me.  I had the opportunity to take a side highway, clicked on my google maps app to figure out how far to go before re-routing back to the main highway. 

We become the filters as these knowledge amateurs. The ProAm movement. Sometimes I feel like thebottom feeder, filtering through all the plankton. Enthusiastic, figuring out my way through these streams of knowledge.

On planktonShir…


Anyone around here bobsled?

Bobsledding 16 by Radder Photos

Berners-Lee video on YouTube Annenberg School for Communication, 2007

Decentralization is really important. How is there a way to collect information and yet still stay decentralized? This theme spoke to me in terms of the number and diversity of people we work with and come across in our daily lives. The web was designed to bridge that collective diversity, and make information like a blank sheet of paper, available to all. This can be mapped onto most of our workplaces, and even our social lives. Bridging gaps. Creating a common understanding.

He talked about how the architecture of information has to separated out from the way we think. There are many ways of knowing, and culturally diverse ways to come at knowledge. With the web, the dimension of thought and organizing is left up to the user to self-design.  Design decisions are documented, interwoven into the collaboration of the group.  These snail trails were saved, and made accessible.

The World Wide Web Project. It really is a success story of collaboration. And completely random innovations that catch on within a larger social context and social needs. Anyone around here bobsled?

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