Monthly Archives: September 2008

Insight into professors

Hilarious PhD comic!

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Filed under higher education, humor

Pretty good advice from fallen Fals Borda

Orland Fals Borda,  a Columbian sociologist active since the 1960s, had this to say.

Obituary: Orlando Fals Borda | World news | The Guardian
There he delivered a speech in which he outlined four of his own guidelines for sociology researchers: “Do not monopolise your knowledge nor impose arrogantly your techniques, but respect and combine your skills with the knowledge of the researched or grassroots communities, taking them as full partners and co-researchers. Do not trust elitist versions of history and science which respond to dominant interests, but be receptive to counter-narratives and try to recapture them. Do not depend solely on your culture to interpret facts, but recover local values, traits, beliefs, and arts for action by and with the research organisations. Do not impose your own ponderous scientific style for communicating results, but diffuse and share what you have learned together with the people, in a manner that is wholly understandable and even literary and pleasant, for science should not be necessarily a mystery nor a monopoly of experts and intellectuals.”

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Filed under Politics, Power, Activism, Scholars, sociology

Best campaign button…

This is great…

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Filed under humor, Politics, Power, Activism

On-line reputation(another media inquiry)

I got _another_ media inquiry.

Summary: How does on-line reputation matter?  What can you do if your reputation is being trashed?

Hmmm. It is interesting how many of these queries seem to be “how-to.”  There is the famous case of the Facebook suicide, but such stories do more to illustrate our fears than capture the reality of most people most of the time.  My first thought to protect your reputation is to have a reputation worth protecting.

You might ask Greta Polites and Eric Santanen also.  (In my department.)

I have this book and have not read it but it seems relevant.

http://www.wordofmouthbook.com/

It must be possible to spend a lot of time surveilling   one’s on-line profile.  “Google myself” is a verb and a state of mind.  How is the “me” I know being seen in cyberspace?  But I think if you obsess about it, it says more about you than the world.  Judging by the generally low level of negative feedback on eBay transactions, or in Amazon ratings, or in other open reputation systems (by open, I mean where any user can comment on an identifiable user).  As opposed to the Hobbesian dog eat dog world we often imagine, when we look at most interactions, even on-line, it is kind of boring in the sense that most people are OK and not trying to cheat others for gain or trash them for a sick kind of fun.  There are of course a few exceptions.

For those times when you are worried about how you are being presented, I would think about the audience before reacting.  If an employer or consulting prospect is concerned or I think they can see negative comments, offer up your own list of recommenders for them to contact directly.  Offer several.  This would mean more than written letters.  If the negativity comes from anonymous systems, you can delicately point out that such attacks are not very reputable and cowardly.  On systems like LinkedIn, have people who will speak on your behalf noted so that a prospective contact can link to them easily.  Include contacts form multiple jobs over your career.  If those people are not on, take this moment to be a technology maven and encourage them to sign up.

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Filed under Information and Communication Technology, Network Society, participatory technology, Social Networks, technology, writing

Networks and jobs

It is always interesting to me how much people like the “strength of weak ties” argument.  It is so familiar to me, I forget how powerful it can be.  I mentioned it in my Bucknell “new faculty” profile, and ended up getting a media request from an on-line columnist.

I may not have given her the “five hot tips” for job hunting she wanted (of course, if they were so hot, why would I give them away, or why would she?), but it was fun to try and riff for a few minutes on netcentric insights.

Here is what I said:

I can give you a few insights from my background studying social networks.

Most people assume that they will get the most support from those closest to them: family and long time friends. This is true for one kind of social capital: the strong ties that make us feel safe and foster healthy self-confidence. However, weak ties, old school mates, friends of friends, former co-workers and the like, are valuable for a differ reason: they are far more likely to be have information different from yours due to the fact that your strong ties tend to be linked to each other, whereas each of your weak ties is unlikely to be linked to your other weak ties. Research has shown that job seekers, especially younger ones, attain employment through the information gleaned from weak ties.

At the same time, networks are two way streets. People can sense and will avoid a “network jerk.” Even though some companies, like Amway, try to marketize pre-existing relations, most of us prefer that community and friendship ties and not just a façade to get to something valuable. I tell my students, in short, that you have to be a real person and grow your networks and relationships for the sake of the relationships.

LinkedIn or other SNS can simplify or accelerate existing social processes. Just as people in real networks rely on signals to determine how much they like a new contact, signals like their credential, who they know, how they present themselves, so too in virtual networks powered by web 2.0 software. In virtual networks, employers or HR mangers will develop ways to “read” the candidate through their profile. In fact, the speed and ease of linking in SNS can have a perverse effect for job seekers. If I am an employer looking for employees, I want to avoid a deluge of inappropriate applicants. If it is too easy to find or link to me in a virtual network like facebook, then I will limit accessibility. If I saw a recent grad with 200-300 contacts in LinkedIn, I would be skeptical that these were real and relevant contacts and not just the result of excessive “friending.”

Here are some more resources you may find useful:

http://nevereatalone.typepad.com/

Getting a Job (by author of original weak ties work): http://books.google.com/books?id=2xgEIBTTdVUC

Recent work that includes gender in questions of networks and careers: http://knowledge.insead.edu/contents/Ibarra.cfm

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Filed under Media, Social Network Sites, Social Networks, technology

A picture is worth a 10,000 words (inflation)

How much does this explain?

Look familiar to you?

Look familiar to you?

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Filed under economics, macroeconomics, Politics, Power, Activism

Classes begin…

Classes have begun.  Blogging goes down.  I’ll have to see what happeened to the statistics.

I am teaching a Foudnation seminar called “Six Degrees of Separation” and an upper level Management course called Management 335 “Changing Organizations.”

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Filed under Bucknell, higher education, pedagogy