Bad Endings & Cyber Stalking

After reading numerous articles, reviewing statistics and watching youtube media clips about cyber stalking, (the following articles to name a few:  http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/criminal_mind/psychology/cyberstalking/5.html , http://womensissues.about.com/od/violenceagainstwomen/a/CyberstalkStory.htmhttp://writing.wikinut.com/My-cyber-stalking-horror-story/lxihxqeu/ )

It seems that women find themselves frequently the victims of cyber stalking, often due to relationships that end badly.  A few articles suggest that cyber stalking is just a Web 2.0 version of the “old fashioned” stalking behaviors that have been around for ever, but the ease of launching “attacks” and the size of attacks that can be launched grows exponentially with the mass media Web 2.0 tools.  The broadcast nature of Web2.0 also makes for more victims from cyber stalking; whereas before, perhaps being stalked was someones “secret”, now through the web one can not only torment you – they can effectively engage your entire network to work against you.

I believe it is some of the best nature of women that opens them up to cyber stalking; not wanting to hurt someone, attempting to be responsive to someone else’s needs, trusting people with our personal information and or trying to end a relationship on some sort of “amicable” note – when it is really impossible to do so.  That said, women might want to take a note from our male counterparts and be more direct about situations, be clear about limits, de-personalize bad behavior – acknowledging it for what it is – bad behavior.

No one deserves to be cyber stalked  – or stalked for that matter, but I believe women in particular need to reconsider the precautions (or lack there of) that they are taking to protect themselves.  First and foremost, women need to surround themselves with healthy relationships so that cyber stalking  – or any form of stalking doesn’t even enter the picture.

Dumb – No, Distracted – Maybe, Impatient & Lazy – Definitely!

Maggie Jackson’s intro to her book Distracted, and Nicholas Carr’s article “Is Google making us stupid” definitely makes you take a step back and reconsider the effects that social media is having not only on our culture but on our physiological beings.  I for one can say that the thought of my brain being altered because of my recent Tweeting, Blogging, and time on the internet is more than a little unsettling.

Do I really believe these tools make us dumb or distracted, I say no to maybe on the short term.  It is something new; we can’t possibly understand what the long term affects might be to our eyes, brains, reflexes, etc.  If the use persists we need to be concerned.  Like the loud music hippies and Yippies of my GenX generation, they really did suffer long term hearing loss…   it was real, even if they didn’t believe it at the time.

What I am positively sure of in the short term, is that these tools have made us lazy.  Does anyone actually walk into a library any more?  How about write a long hand letter on special stationary? I feel that their is value in taking time, taking stock and reflecting in a moment that is all ours.

Definition of impatient: Updating Facebook in the bathroom stall…and sending photos to a friend.  Yep, I heard it all “going on”.

That I am especially sure can wait…

Making the best of both “worlds”

The article CSCW & Enterprise 2.0 – Towards an Integrated Perspective (Kach, 2008) is a reminder that some processes, ways of doing business or thinking about business collaboration etc. considered “old” can really be made valuable again if rather than tossing them aside completely we consider carefully what we have learned from them and bring forward  their beneficial aspects into the “new” processes and practices.

The case that this author makes is that Group Support Systems and CSCW research has advanced our way of thinking about how IT can enable collaborative/group work within the business context; he adds that Social Software is really an extension of that learning, which allows us to take the best of both approaches/systems rather than make a choice of one over the other.

The ah-ha moment in this reading for me, is that having to select one platform/system/process in business over another is really a false choice that has been promoted and actually served no one well.  This way of thinking creates factions of followers and non-followers for the various systems/platforms, and only serves to build walls that make for missed opportunities to leverage the best of all approaches.

Its not about “my system/platform” or “your system/platform”, its about finding the “right system/platform” to do the job – serving the users, clients, customers and business most effectively and efficiently.

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…

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.