Monthly Archives: July 2008

Don’t do what I did- Beta

I have this running joke about how I made life difficult for myself while doing my PhD.

I call it the “DOn’t Do What I Did” brochure.  I mentioned this line today to a research acquaintance and he thought I meant- “Don’t Study what I study.”  So, in an act of reassuring him I am not so egotistical, i produced the beta version of the brochure:

Also, I made a joking reference to “don’t do what I did.” I think you misunderstood me. Life is too short and being a scholar is too important to get worried about turf wars. I welcome our mutual and complimentary interests. I have a running joke about how I am the poster child for how not to do a dissertation.

  • – Don’t do it across an ocean.
  • – Don’t use a method you never studied
  • – Don’t do mixed method.
  • – Don’t have kid(s).
  • – Don’t teach FT while dissertating.

And so on…

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Filed under life, PhD, writing

Indirect Social Influence

SOCIOLOGY: Indirect Social Influence — Denrell 321 (5885): 47 — Science
To learn more about these mechanisms, we need to broaden studies of social influence and belief formation to include the phases of learning and information collection that precede decision-making and judgment.

The above quotation from Science summarizes a brief yet interesting overview of how indirect influence matters.  The gist is that the exposure I have to infomration, as a result of my network connections or position, can bias my “rational” decision-making.  Its not that we are all weak-willed lemmings who do what the joneses do, it s that in the face of difficult to find information, we may rely on information gathered through netwokr ties to make decisions.  And by separating network effects into direct influence on disposition and indirect influence though information gathering, we can better analyze influence.

Fine.  Seems a bit of a round-about way to get there, but I suspect it makes network effects more palatable to economists or game-theory types.

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Filed under economics, Research, Social Networks, sociology

Amusing Diaper Story

One of the folks over at BPP has this amusing story about trying to use eco diapers and findng that “reality overhwlems the good inetentiosn of the crusade.”

Could sum up my challenges in writing too.  What to do when the reality is you?

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Filed under writing

Social Networks gains another level of salience

While over at socnet, there is a discussion of how “social networks” has become totally co-opted and stolen by the rise of the social networking sites/services (MySpace, Facebook, Okrut, LinkedIn, etc), i stumbled on to the new HP TouchSmart computer marketing campaign.  By the way, the author of the post above, Guy Hagen, is totally correct that social networks are as old as the species while SNS are, well, younger.

(I wonder what is the first SNS?  Orkut? It would be nice to have a brief history of SNS.  What would minimal definition be?  Profiles+relationship building+messaging system… Is that enough?)

The HP touchSmart, which looks pretty cool, bills itself as the one machine that will enable you to manage your digital life.  “It puts your digital life at your fingertips giving you instant access to info, entertainment, and social networks.”  So, not only has social networks as a term become a whole genre of applications, but even a class of functions like photography, word processing, or data management.

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Filed under Future of Technology, Social Network Sites, Social Networks, words

Practicing trust and VWs

Terra Nova: Practicing trust
Here it strikes me that MMOs sit in a sweet spot between being different enough as a practice to externalize, among other thing, acts of trust and kindness. Yet familiar enough in terms of the generic nature of what’s going on for those acts to have emotional impact – at least some of the time.

This is a very interesting comment from the author- Ren Reynolds.  Don’t knwo much about him, but maybe I should look more.  Fits in nicely with the “why VWs matter” paper Ted and I are trying to write.   And it captures the in-the-middle, sweet spot I have been imagining between total disarticualtion of real world identity and VW identity on the one hand and tight coupling or specified articulation (buying on ebay, buying on Amazon? LinkedIn?) on the other.  In SL, to juice up, or catalyze, the ferment of the world, there has to be enough distancingto activate playfulness, but enough peresistence and accountability to allow community to emerge (at least at player-player level) and norm reinforcement (we used to call it social control) to operate.

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Filed under sociology, virtual worlds

The emergence of a new research paradigm: Relationalism?

I remember how excited I was to read Emirbayer’s 1997 “Manifesto for a Relational Sociology.”  I was in grad school, and I was eager for a manifesto to inspire me to academic arms.  The essay did just that.  But, as I tried to work it into PhD papers and a dissertation, I didn’t cite it as much as I might have.  It was too big, too bold, too general for a dissertation.  And I had the feeling that it was too “out there.”

One of the things I liked especially was the way it seemed to leave behind a debate about networks as method or networks as theory.  Network analysis is a method, of course, but to ask the right questions, to understand the implications, requires a relational perspective.  Borgatti and others have since started their power points on networks, I’ve noticed, with an intro to a “network perspective.”

Now I see this book over at Edward Elgar called :

Relational Perspectives In Organizational Studies

Not only that, but I was put onto it because of a review of the book in AMR.

Three quick observations

1) It seems that relationalism as a rallying point has emerged and my early reading of Emribayer was part of many schoalrs picking up on those ideas and beginning a process of importng them into org studies and management schoalrship.

2) The Above volume draws heavily form work done on identity, inequality, and feminist theory.  The influence of feminist theory on relationalism is new to me, but makes sense.

3) there was not much on the study of networks and relationalism in the TOC.  Maybe that is a niche that can continue to be exploited/developed? Or is network analysis simply a tool that is appropriated differently by scholars depending on your prior interest.  if you are focused on how to strategically manage alliances, you use networks one way, and if you are interested in the way interdependence leads to emergence of inequality, you use network analysis a different way.  The use of the suite of network analysis tools does not imbue the scholarship with a particularly relational and there fore challenging or radically different epistemology to normally static and atomistic social science.

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

Miracles and Nasty Surprises

Miracles and Nasty Surprises
This blog is an experiment in presenting an academic work for public commentary. We have taken the web introduction to our book Miracles and Nasty Surprises (found at and converted it into smaller segments. Each segment is available for commentary (call this the talmudic approach).

The authors of the above book used a blog to try and spark discussion. They broke the introduction up into discrete chunks and blogged each chunk.  neat idea.

Possible book for teaching org theory?

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Filed under Books, organization studies, organization theory, pedagogy

Mental Organization

One of the boons of Web 2.0 technologies, like tagging, folksonomies, and social bookmarking, is that it gives a mental pack rat like me an immense feeling of relief and empowerment.  I used to try and clip articles form newspapers and journals I thought were important.  Back in the days before the internets, I mean.  WIth browsers and bookmarks, I found myself saving bookmarks  willy-nilly.  And e-mails.  The problems was that using a file architecture to manage all these handles (a small handle to grab to access more in-depth knowledge) became itself a time suck and a mental burden.

Searchability is key for me.  That is one thing i learned from Gmail.  It wsa liberating to simply abandon the compulsion to keep and organize old emails.  By letting go and adopting a problem-solving mentality, I realized I could rely on my own mind to offer key words to search for relevant emails as I needed to find them.

Now delicious (and digg to a lesser extent) enable the same shift from organizing for organization’s sake to tagging and dropping (tag it and drop it till you need it).  I can organize myself and my time instead of organizing my files, bookmarks, handles, etc.

This summer I want to keep streamlining.  I still need and use paper copies of important articles.  Just as I look through my delicious bookmarks or blog for ideas,  I want to go to a file folder and review the articles there.

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Filed under Research, writing