Daily Archives: January 28, 2008

Search for Social Physics (keynote from INSNA)

Keynote Address
By soft science we mean, science conducted on phenomena that don’t tend to come with numbers already attached. And by hard science we mean science that has been around long enough to have acquired the ability to have numbers already attached.

That  is a pretty clear definition of hard and soft science.    This is from INSNA’s keynote address about ten years back.  One of the two speakers, Peter Killworth, just passed away which I learned from the INSNA list-serv, SOCNET.

The address looks like its worth reading.  Of course one is immediately struck by the very INSNA-y approach of having a physical scientist and an anthropologist.  That kind of deeply interdisciplinary work seems to be often the hallmark and honey (attractiveness) of research that attracts netheads. (Did I just coin that?  An off shoot of orgheads?)

The idea of social physics has come up before.  Harrison White and Duncan Watts more recently, at least in terms of their career trajectories.  Also, I recall one fo those grand daddy type sof social science (Comte? Sant-Simone?) said something to that effect.  Maybe I can check later…

Leave a comment

Filed under Networks, Research, Scholars, social theory

Union activism in Facebook

Mydd.com had this story about union activism in facebook including the successful use of facebook tools to reinstate a banned labor activist (he’d been banned.)

  A few weeks ago I took a look at examples of unions using Facebook, partially inspired by Change to Win’s Smack the CEO Facebook application.  Over the last few days, a mini-revolt of sorts has rolled through the Facebook labor activist community, and I’ve got good news: our side won!

This seems relevant for the article about Organizing in the Network Society.  Usual questions: does the technology or the stance of the hosting company make it easier to organize?Is this a “new” kind of organizing orthe smae kind but with new technology?  who is calling the shots (who has power) in heavily privatized communication media like Facebook?

I need Brian to look at this and see what he thinks.  I need to finish post also!  D-oh!

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, Information and Communication Technology, Network Society, Politics, Power, Activism

Social Networking and Business

Peter Durand asked this question over at linkedin.

I thought to myself, “I should be able to say something about this.” Here is my first crack. I think its ok. Its helpful to have someone with a practical question ask it to get me to focus.

My initial response raises more questions (which I’ll return to at the end.)

What is the most effective way for a professional service firm to use social networking apps? (After all quantity of connections does not equal quality.)

(1) What are the business goals behind the use of social networking Web 2.0 apps such as LinkedIn, Plaxo and Facebook?
(2) As volume of connections increase, how can integrity and authenticity be maintained?
(3) And, most tricky, how can the business value of social networking apps be described to senior leaders who tend to operate on the other side of the technology gap?

Great questions. I need to have good answers for myself. Some quick hits.

1) The goal for any particular business must be part of an overall approach to customers and relationship management. However, if a given business seeks or has one way, firm to customer communication, they will find lots of conflicts because most SNS have reciprocity built into them.
2) Facebook is an interesting case. Due to its initial growth exclusively through college domain name emails (bubba@college.edu) college students flocked to it creating a “network effect.” A network effect is when a product becomes more valuable as the network of users increases. The value of a carrot to me is not affected by the number of carrot owners. The value of fax machine goes up as more people have them. But, now that Facebook has thrown itself open, will the attractiveness of network effects offset the negatives of the lower baseline trustworthiness of the average user. The second half of that sentence is the predator fear. On MySpace, due to its low threshold for authenticating users, I don’t know who is a predator so newbies are vulnerable and power users are wary.

3) Short answer: how do they feel about this: Cluetrain.com elevator pitch. If they feel threatened, don’t bother. If they feel invigorated, than explain that SNS are a way to have more conversations between you and any one of your customers/stakeholders.

If that seems like too much of a cop out, especially for decision makers who feel threatened by conversations but can be convinced otherwise, I might try this.

Markets are about conversations. Even when you don’t see or monitor those conversations, it is the most natural form of communicating. In a brand-intense, information saturated economy, conversations are even more important, and the new scarcity, the new value driver is “real” conversations. For more and more people, they are choosing to substitute many-to-many forms of communication for the older one-to-many. That is the difference between a radio ad and a blog, between mass media and wiki media. We are not “adding” SNS to our lives, we are building our lives around them, and adding TV, print, radio as we need or want to.

Peter’s Blog response.

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Networks, participatory technology, Social Network Sites

Google and Legos

Today is the 50th birthday of legos!  hat  tip. (Searchenegine blog).

And Google is celebrating with this google logo.

Yesterday, Elijah made his first home movie with his Flip camcorder. The characters were all Legos and had funny names like Colonel Hamburgersstine.  Or something like that.

1 Comment

Filed under Information and Communication Technology

Serious (and silly) Game “Get Good Karma”

Due to twitter, i stumbled into this amusing little example of a “good game.”  Good as in a game with an ulterior social goods purpose or message.  Serious games.  That is what othes call them.  Like here.

Get Good Karma. 

You wander around doing good things.  And you get points.  How big is it?  I dunno.  You can regsiter to save your progress.

Supposedly its supposed to encourage community activism and voter registration.  How, I fail to see.

1 Comment

Filed under activism, Gaming, Information and Communication Technology