Monthly Archives: March 2008

Still a great ad- Bush in 30 seconds

This was the last winner of the Moveon.org participatory ad contest.

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Filed under participatory technology, Politics, Power, Activism

Comparing fourth and fifth editions of Organizations by Richard Scott (And Gerry Davis for fifth)

So, a new edition of Organizations:Rational, Natural, and Open Systems by W. Richard Scott is out. Its co-authored by Gerry Davis (Who was a student of Scott’s at Stanford, apparently) and has a newer, more active title (stamp out nouns!). This book was an absolute classic for me doing my PhD at IESE. It also helped me bridge sociology and management. So, like the priests we are, it is good to turn back to the canon and see what is there.

Organizations and Organizing: rational, natural, and open systems perspectives.

I wanted to see if it is worth reading/buying the new version. A quick comparison of the two tables of contents reveals that some major changes were made. After Break for table.

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Filed under Books, organization studies, organization theory, Scholars, sociology

Oil and Politics Visualization

Just started playing with this nifty tool that allows one to visualize relational patterns of oil sector employees’ contributions to federal politicians.

Price for oil.

I didn’t notice a difference between PAC money and individual contribution.  It seems a stretch to me to say that because an employee of Chevron gave $1,500 to Obama, Obama is in the pocket of big oil the way Bush or Cheney are.   One interesting thing to look at is how many people max out to all candidates.  That would seem a prxoy for people buying access versus supporting the politician they actually prefer (for better or for worse).

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Filed under activism, Network Visuals, Political Economy, Politics, Power, Activism

10, no 15, Commandments of Writing Theory

A conversation with a collaborator about how to write and publish theory led Ted to send me the hot-off-the-press Editor’s comments from the most recent AMR. Got me thinking about some of the other badly needed comments on theory in our field. Distilling them led to the following list. There are many other resources out there about how to think theoretically. These have the advantage of being about the craft of writing and publishing theory. These are all my paraphrases (including colorful language in a few places).

I am very grateful to to the cited authors for offering guidance and directions to those of us setting off across terra incognito.

□ Know that your audience are other scholars interested in same topic, not God, or ignorant savants. Talk to the Guild; the heavens ain’t listening (Rindova 2008).

□ Your theory shall start with a richly detailed problem statement that triggers theorizing (Weick 1989)

□ Your theory shall have a what (elements) a how (processes) and a why (fundamental logic) (Whetten 1989).

□ Your theory shall be a why account that emphasizes the causal nature of events, thoughts, and structure; it delves into reasons for systematic occurrence or non-occurrence.

□ Your theory shall not substitute references, list of variables, diagrams, hypotheses nor data for good theory (Sutton and Straw 1995)

□ Your theory enlightens, illuminates, surprises, delights, and narrates (Weick 1995; Sutton and Straw 1995; DiMaggio 1995).

□ Thou shalt know that the What and How of a theory describe; only Why explains (Whetten 1989).

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Filed under organization theory, Research, social theory, writing

Can’t Grasp Credit Crisis? Join the Club

A good and brief description of how the housing boom, deregulation,  CDOs, and market ideology led us into this mess…

Can’t Grasp Credit Crisis? Join the Club – New York Times
Because these loans go to people stretching to afford a house, they come with higher interest rates — even if they’re disguised by low initial rates — and thus higher returns. The mortgages were then sliced into pieces and bundled into investments, often known as collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.’s (a term that appeared in this newspaper only three times before 2005, but almost every week since last summer). Once bundled, different types of mortgages could be sold to different groups of investors.

Investors then goosed their returns through leverage, the oldest strategy around. They made $100 million bets with only $1 million of their own money and $99 million in debt. If the value of the investment rose to just $101 million, the investors would double their money. Home buyers did the same thing, by putting little money down on new houses, notes Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.com. The Fed under Alan Greenspan helped make it all possible, sharply reducing interest rates, to prevent a double-dip recession after the technology bust of 2000, and then keeping them low for several years.

All these investments, of course, were highly risky. Higher returns almost always come with greater risk. But people — by “people,” I’m referring here to Mr. Greenspan, Mr. Bernanke, the top executives of almost every Wall Street firm and a majority of American homeowners — decided that the usual rules didn’t apply because home prices nationwide had never fallen before. Based on that idea, prices rose ever higher — so high, says Robert Barbera of ITG, an investment firm, that they were destined to fall. It was a self-defeating prophecy.

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Filed under economic sociology, economics, policy, Political Economy

A little rant about the Academic game

Here is a little bit of an email I just sent to a colleague in which I rant (a little) about the state of AOM and having taken one-too-many sociology of knowledge classes.

I think AOM may have lost sight of its best purpose if it is all near-journal articles.  OTOH, that is probably why visual and round table sessions evolved.  Meanwhile, the near-journal expectations for normal papers helps to increase supply of citations for the burgeoning demand for more CV lines among the exploding business school faculty ever-urged on by the whipping of reputation-mad Deans, Presidents, and trustees.  Having a sociology of knowledge pair of lenses is really a fucking curse since I can both see through the BS artifices of knowledge production and also feel self-justified in not playing the game.  Ok, rant over.

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Filed under conferences, higher education, humor, Research

Lessig talk on ‘hybrid economy’ March 27 || Bucknell University

I am encouraging all of my former Capstone (“Rise of the Network Society”) students to attend this one.   Lessig is an important voice discussing the pratcical and poitical implications of the overalps between technology, culture, law, and also politics.

As the press release states, Professor Eric Faden, who is bringing Lessig, is a client due to his creation of A Fair(y) Use Tale which explore issues of copyright protection.

Looks good!  Hope you can make it!

News: Lessig talk on ‘hybrid economy’ March 27 || Bucknell University
Lawrence Lessig, the renowned copyright and intellectual property rights author and Stanford Law School professor, will present a talk titled, “Remix — Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy,” on Thursday, March 27, at 7 p.m. in Bucknell University’s Trout Auditorium.

The talk is free and open to the public.

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Filed under Creativity, digital culture, economic sociology, Government, policy, Political Economy, Scholars, technology

Scholarship 2.0: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

I am not an innovator, but maybe a first or late first adopter.   Of course, it varies by network too. At my university, I seem to be clearly an early adopter of many collaborative technologies (blogs, wikis, virtual worlds).  Anyway, this blog came up and seemed to be worth exploring further as my own scholarly work about Web 2.0/living web also takes on living web forms.

Mitchell Waldrop, coincidentally, is also the author of Complexity which is one of my favorite books and indirectly influenced my choices of scholarly interests in grad school and beyond.

This is a stub until I can look at the blog more.

Scholarship 2.0: An Idea Whose Time Has Come: <strong>Science 2.0</strong>
Scholarship 2.0 is devoted to describing and documenting the forms, facets, and features of alternative Web-based scholarly publishing philosophies and practices. The variety of old and new metrics available for assessing the impact, significance, and value of Web-based scholarship is of particular interest.

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Filed under Living Web, participatory technology, Research, Scholars, science, technology

Bringing Second Life To Life: Researchers Create Character With Reasoning Abilities of a Child

Wow ! Welcome Hal 2000! Or the Oracle. Or agent Smith.

RPI: News & Events – Bringing <i>Second Life</i> To Life: Researchers Create Character With Reasoning Abilities of a Child

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Filed under innovation, Second Life, technology

Teenage Suicides Bewilder an Island, and the Experts

That is the headline of a very sad story about a cluster of three suicides on Nantucket.  Too bad they didn’t seem to look for any sociology experts.  Starting with Durkheim’s Suicide there  is a lot of evidence that suicide is not exclusively a problem of the “head” but also of the community and society.  All of the experts are trying to help the individuals (and I am sure with the best of intentions).

My students and I read  about how suicides often spread like other social contagions or information cascades in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.  If this is the case, the the specific network structure will matter.  One advantage to understanding suicide as a social and not merely a psychological phenomenon is that intervention strategies can shift or adapt.  Unfortunately, it is not clear that the psychiatrists are making much headway on what to do.  This article summarizes research on suicides in Micronesia and ends up concluding that “sociocultural factors” may matter.

Teenage Suicides Bewilder an Island, and the Experts – New York Times
Then the specialists began to descend. Some visited classrooms, wanting to talk students through their grief. Another emphasized the importance of telling young people that suicide was wrong, and an awful way to solve problems. Still another promoted relaxation techniques and warned that suicidal behavior could be contagious.

I want to find out more about what conclusions and recommendations come from looking at this problem as a social fact as much as a psychological one.

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Filed under psychology, Social Networks, sociology