Pooky Doesn’t Paint, and other things pets shouldn’t do…

After observing Pooky by Youtube  I can make a few comments…

First, Pooky should be hired by Kimberly Clark, as they are one of the Top 25 firms in the world and have spent an amazing amount of money trying to understand human eye tracking to promote brand awareness and increase sales.  Perhaps the Pookmaster could teach them a thing or two about eye tracking, as he/she had a LOT going on in that little head while watching the mouse.  Imagine how much $$ they could make selling what they learned from Pooky to Meowmix & Purina!

Second, I believe that Pooky had a strategy all along with this painting mouse bit, of course he was just too wise to give it away at the start. He/She was just going to wait that dumb mouse out, as surely he would tire out eventually – and pooky knew right where to find him. Besides, why waste all that energy chasing, lets just lie back and relax a bit right??  It worked for all the greatest artists!!

Finally, in spite of how we love our pets we sometimes put them in awkward positions to amuse us…  I shamefully (though with a smile) share the following.   Happy Halloween!

Fiona the Space Schnauzer…

ps: Is she NOT the cutest space schnauzer ever???

pss:  This does not count as animal cruelty, as she is simply wearing her everyday rain coat, and we like to think of her tin foil antennae as an “accessory”… that is my story, and I am sticking to it.

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This is your brain… this is your brain with tags…

After the blur of last night’s class and the jolt of this morning’s coffee, I actually think I am managing to muster a clear thought.  It goes something like this…

I spend a lot of time thinking about (and reading research on) how experts see the world; how they think, what they think about, and why they think about things that seem so “distant from” from what they are actually working on  – when solving problems.  I believe the notion of making thought processing explicit through tagging could really add value to understanding experts, how they associate seemingly dispirit information and draw analogies.

Part of the problem in this area of research has to do with experts’ inability to explicitly tell you the associations they are making; sometimes they don’t even know they are doing it.  Watching the tags of experts would allow us to travel the mindset of those people, and analyze (like google, Klout, and Amazon) what their NEXT thought, idea, preference or association might be.  I can see a lot of professional industrial application for this, especially as our workforce ages and the Millennial masses move in to replace the Baby Boomers.  How can we assist them in being successful?  I am wondering if tagging can help us with this…

RAA #1: Dogear Social Bookmarking

Millen, D. R., Feinberg, J., & Kerr, B. (2006). Dogear:  Social Bookmarking in the Enterprise. Paper presented at the CHI, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Purpose:  The purpose of this research was to establish user value of social bookmarking within business verses personal use.  To accomplish this, the researchers developed a social bookmarking tool for a field test deployment with the plan to analyze adoption behavior and user experience.  The tool was designed and customized in order to meet the needs of the targeted user audience, which were self identified as IT professionals/experts.  Design attributes included:  1) both personal and business links could be saved, sorted, viewed and 2) links could be made private, shared for particular groups or department use only.

Methods:  The method used for the study was a field test deployment of their bookmarking tool (Dogear), within a VERY large IT firm employing over 300,000 associates.  Word of mouth was used to promote use of the tool within the firm.  Both quantitative and qualitative data was collected for analysis.  The quantitative data was harvested from the activity logs of the users (clicks, creates, etc.) while qualitative data was harvested from intracompany blogs and direct emails to the researchers.

Main findings: The main findings of this study suggest that social bookmarking is a tool that can be adapted and may be considered beneficial in the business environment.  Most contributors commented that use of the tool did assist them in information finding.  The large number of user shared links (vs. private) seems to indicate user willingness to share information with co-workers, which may lead to community building by helping employees with common needs/interests find each other (expert location assistance). In addition the volume of posted links would tend to indicate a business need for information location and retrieval.

Analysis:  I found this study interesting and important in that it choose to deploy an actual beta Ent 2.0 tool into the real world of work.  Often I read research that appears meaningful to industry, only to read further into the article and discover the population used for analysis was college age research subjects rather than a representative population for the average firm.

That said, while the authors did deploy the tool into an enterprise setting, they chose an IT industry setting – which I feel is especially problematic when trying to gauge an IT based tool’s acceptance and “value”.  Perhaps it was just an unfortunate oversight, however I feel there is a case to suggest substantial population bias with this firm’s participation.  In this scenario, I am suggesting the bias is in favor of any IT based tool that would be presented.  This situation was made worse as many participants self reported as  “experts”, indicating even a higer level of IT user than “average”.  Had this tool been trialed in a consumer products, automotive, or any other non- IT based firm, I feel the evidence (which was very well presented) would have been much more compelling.

The Organizing Power of Social Media

For this week’s class we read a variety of articles; from academic papers to pieces from Vanity Fair and everything in between.  The common thread between these disparate writing forms was the notion of the organizing power of social media.  While this was not the first time I had heard or read about social media being viewed as a change agent in enabling social change, there were a couple items that struck me as unique from a couple of these articles.

What is Occupy Wall Street – Washington Post :  “We are all leaders”… REALLY??

In the WP article, Social media was positioned as an enabler of participatory democracy; a vehicle for allowing a wide variety of voices/themes to unify for a cause, verses promotion of shouting over each other for their own selfish purpose. Further, this alternative media is represented as a virtual welcome mat for any would be causes looking for a means to join forces based on “principles of unity”; anti-authoritarian, anti-discrimination.

Up to the point that this article used the women’s rights movement of an example of a similar and “leaderless protest”, I was hanging with them.  Have they not heard of Gloria Steinem, renowned New York feminist and journalist who was the feminist spokesperson of the 60’s?  What about Carol Hanisch, considered a “radical feminist”, a member of New York’s Redstockings group?  She protested Miss American and certainly represented the women’s rights protests as a leader when she came up with the saying “The Personal is Political”.  We can all have voices… we cannot all be Leaders, just like we can all play in a football game, but that does not mean we are all winners when the clock ticks down to zero.

Social media does make for democratic prioritization of issues.  For me however, whether you are using social media or not, a leader to unify the issues is important, and if the cause is really a cause – a clear leader or set of leaders will emerge.  Social media provides the megaphone to the masses for these leaders, and the lack of a leader results in just a bunch of people shouting in the streets & Tweeting on line to themselves.

 Here Comes Everybody – Clay Shirky

Clay Shirky’s article was based on a sad story forced into the light of day by the organizing power of social media.  With a tone of irony, I say THANK GOD for social media in this case.  In this article, the words that resonated for me were…

Social tools do not create social /collective action, they merely remove the existing obstacles.

The old obstacles highlighted in this article were 1) the locality of information and 2) built in barriers preventing group sharing of information.  The notion that social media takes local information global seemed intuitive to me, but how that “globalness” results in totally re-constructing, the borders of organizations had completely eluded me.  Even more compelling was the idea that this restructuring cannot be contained by the “rules of the local”, because they no longer have any relevance or jurisdiction.  A curious quandary for organization rule makers and for sure – another opportunity for our WebLawyer.

Finally, the barrier breaking nature of social media to increase group sharing seems almost Sci-Fi when you think back to the days of clipping paper articles, making copies, and waiting for US Postal correspondence; frankly, in reflection, I had nearly forgotten just how long that cycle took.  In addition, back then when someone sent you a Xeroxed article on some topic, you always wondered if it was real – or if someone had doctored something up using the copier.  I suppose the same is true for the web and social media– you can make anything up and create WebPages out of thin air in minutes, but now so many people have access to the same set of information that the fakers are found out almost as quickly as they release their bogus info.

The bottom line for social media and the power to organize:  SM is a tool for informing, sharing and growing a cause; it breaks old paradigms but also creates a few new ones.  It is not a panacea but does allow us an opportunity to rethink boundaries of all kinds, including geographic, social, and political ones.

Crowdsourcing – A New World of Work?

This weeks readings offer a broad variety of views on the topics of crowdsourcing and open sourcing.  Through the readings the authors attempted to not only answer the question of what these new phenomena are, but they also tried to place them in contexts outside the expected spaces of social media, and consider rather the opportunities for their mainstreaming.

As some of you might know, the research I have been focusing on for the last couple years involves the world of work, and the impact industry faces due to the transitioning workforce from predominantly Baby Boomers to the incoming droves of Millennials.  Some of what I have learned about the Millennial generation is a bit about their work habits and preferences.  While on the surface you may be asking “so what”, in reading the literature on crowdsourcing and reviewing the attributes of “work” that are finding success within crowdsourcing, it may be that crowdsourcing migrates from “fad supporting social media behavior”, to a possible norm as “a new world of work”.

As the articles point out, there are great benefits and efficiencies that can be derived from crowdsourcing:

  1. Collective intelligence (Surowiecki)- imperfect individual judgement, offset by the scale of many and the aggregation and review of a hundred sets of eyeballs.
  2. Commoditization of “simple”tasks (Kittur, Smus, Kraut)- decreased investment with increased speed and a portion of benefits associated with a diverse solution set, though that is debated due to limited web access related to socio-economic status (Surowiecki).
  3. Worker Flexibility (Oreg-Nov/Haythornthwaite) – Only work on what interests you and what you can make time for; no need for a long-term commitment or even a great deal of in-depth expertise.  Individual contributors not only welcome, but valued in an environment with low coordination requirements.

These are just a few of the crowdsourcing benefits that the various authors highlight, but as I compare those to the work desires of Millennials, many common threads arise;  to work collaboratively, but have an individual voice; to work flexible (and shorter) hours without the confines/trappings of a traditional work environment; to work on things “that matter”; to make work “fun”(Twenge 2006).

The article by Oreg/Nov (Oreg & Nov 2007) also shared with us why someone would be motivated to work for free (or nearly free) in crowdsourcing/opensource work.  Again, the idea of working on what matters (mostly for increased self-development) but also for increasing individual reputation topped the list.  In traditional industrial work environments you are paid for your work (well above crowdsourcing rates), that said – only rarely do you get to choose the projects you work on, determine the flexibility of your own work hours, or control the FUN in the FUNction of your role.  Perhaps crowdsourcing provides a “work re-invention” opportunity to not only endear the Millennial generation, but also increase the competitive positioning of U.S. firms?  Maybe if “novel, rare or coveted” work problems (Brabham, 2008 p.83) were carefully examined within the firm and crowdsourced (rather than outsourced) we could reinvigorate job prospects for our young domestic workforce?

If such a sea change in job development/placement was made not with industrial greed in mind, but rather the sustainability of U.S. jobs in mind, I wonder how this shift might be viewed?  Perhaps crowdsourcing as part of a new world of work offers a meaningful and flexible alternative for Millennials and a new option for our U.S. Industrial base.

What Neighborhood do you live in?

This weeks course readings revolved around several key points associated with social media which have their roots in early traditional communication and social network theory.  While these theories are often laden with complicated mathematics, the concepts and approaches they portend are easy to relate to and offer a unique way of understanding or considering the new world of social media.

Consider first that a sociogram can be a simple diagram showing the relationship between you (EGO) and others (nodes).  The connections we form between each other are called edges, and when diagrammed connect us like little sidewalks connecting houses.   These sidewalks indicate relationships and can have directionality to express how the relationship exists between connections (one way if you know them, they don’t know you – or two way, you both know each other).  When many people are adjacent to you (you have a direct relationship with them), this is called a neighborhood.  When a very tightly formed neighborhood exists, one that is fully connected or only having a few gaps – this is known as a clique.

The “sidewalks” joining us together can be either weak or strong depending on your familiarity with the person you are joined to; these are referred to as weak or strong ties.  Those with a lot of strong ties are often considered power brokers of what is called “social capital”.  This clout allows them to be heard by many, but also to exert a great deal of influence over their sprawling neighborhood, which may actually look more like a suburb, city or continent thanks to the scale of the internet!

As we ponder some of these concepts in the context of social media, and for me – specifically in the space of Enterprise 2.0, my mind begins to spin with research questions as I consider what the neighborhoods within industry look like.

  1. Where do the industry “sidewalks” take us, and who lives there?  Does the “house” (node) have someone we value due to their knowledge and capability?  If so, can we see based on the sidewalks and neighbors how much social capital they have in the firm?
  2. Who is excluded from the clique like neighborhoods within industry and what does that tell us about the culture of the firm and neighborhood?  We know information/innovation sharing happens more slowly when there are cliques, so what is the implication for that firm if their “city of neighborhoods” all look like cliques?
  3. What are the demographics of each neighborhood, and like the urban plight we have witnessed in the “real world” due to dying neighborhoods, are there indicators of “corporate urban plight” on the horizon seen as dramatic changes in the neighborhood (i.e explosive perculation)?

So many questions, so little time to sleep – but for sure, the data being collected within the firm (Ent. 2.0) and outside the firm (social media), offers a wide open playing field to revisit many old social network theories, and uncover many new ones as well.  On a personal note, this network perspective and the research that supports it should cause us to pause a moment to consider what neighborhood we live in.  Have we unconsciously isolated ourselves in a way that could impact our ability to gain valuable information, learn new things and question our viewpoints, or have we purposely locked ourselves in our “houses” within a closed “gated community”?

I know where I have been living…   I also think I hear a moving van pulling up my driveway right now….