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January 31, 2008

The Glass Ceiling

It has been about three and a half hours since I finished my first live web conference with Jenny Spadafora. Growing up in a generation where AIM was second nature, I was surprised to find out how much I didn’t care for the method with which the conference was carried out. Maybe it is because I was new to this type of conference, but I was not a fan of the lack of emotion felt during the conversation.

By no means did I feel that there was a lack of interest in the topic. What I do mean, is that there was no way of replicating the emotions behind each question that the others in the conference had. Since it was just text on a screen, I needed to fill in my own perceived emotion to cover the gaps. And, as the conversation carried on, it was harder and harder to do that, because there were many, and often unrelated questions popping up. Let me take this moment to applaud Ms. Spadafora on how well she fielded all of those questions.

I was eager to hear Ms. Spadafora discuss her job/experience with workstreaming. From the description of her job prior to the conference, it sounded like something that I could see myself doing later on down the line. But, I will say that after having the discussion, I am less enthusiastic about following a similar line of work.

On page 145 of Connect, Zelenka titles a section I’m Okay, You’re OTP. In this section, Zelenka describes the etiquette of instant messaging while you are in the office. The author says that it is okay, to “Ignore a message, even if your status message says you’re available and you’re sitting right there.? (Zelenka, 2008, p.145) Out of all of the items listed, this is the one that intrigues me the most. I am definitely under the belief that just because the phone rings doesn’t mean that you have to answer it. However, after our discussion this evening, and learning that Twitter is used to constantly update coworkers about your progress/status, I have to say that I feel this information is a bit counterintuitive.

Zelenka later discuss workstreaming as an alternative to face time. “The Benefits of workstreaming include satisfying your boss (or client) that you’re making regular progress towards shared goals, notifying team members of your status in case it affects their work, and even giving youself a sense of accomplishment and progress.? (Zelenka, 2008, p.148)

The whole idea that our coworkers need to constantly know about our status/where abouts, concerns me. I feel like this dependency, overtime, will cause employees to lose the ability to be self-reliant. If this is the case, we will constantly need to update our availability through something like Twitter or an IM, whether we are at work, the coffee shop, or at home. I find this quite concerning because I don’t know where the separation between work and our personal lives will be.

I think that we are far from reaching the potential extreme grasp of Twitter updates, but I do think that we will get there. I hope that humanity will take a step back and reevaluate before we reach the point of operating completely though workstreams out of our houses. I think that we will reach a glass ceiling. If we don’t reach that point, we will eventually forget why, or for whom we are doing all of this work for.

2 heads are better than 1

I was really intrigued with the chapter on platforms in Wikinomics. It really goes to show you that platforms that spawn from participation, do create innovation and value quickly in times of distress and need. For example, the katrinalist. After the screen scraping process headed by Geilhufe, the tech savvy team was able to sift information from missing people and organize it into central database which collectively contributed to a spread of massive participation from volunteers and high profile bloggers. I find this amazing. In only four days a usable program was put together with almost no money involved. Something as big as this would take time and money. This truly was "mass collaboration at its finest" (pg. 187). Another true and exciting point raised is "as long as the web remains open...services and components are constantly remixed and improved by anyone with the skills and inclination" (pg. 189). With this provided, platforms are the best way to gather outside sources of information, talent, and participation that enhances the capabilities of any business or person for that matter. I am all for platform benefits. However, I do believe that there is a fine line between legality barriers in questioning the use of certain material. For example, Radamacher did not develop his program further because he did not know about the intellectual property.

I find Facebook to be very useful. I believe that it is a great social networking site to use as agreed upon by Zelenka. I use it mostly to surf my friends "friend list" to see if there is anyone that I have hung out with in the past. I find this incredibly helpful, especially when I have lost my cell phone which happens quite alot. Then I can simply check on Facebook and send out mass messages and network in that way. I rarely find time to IM, and I cannot help but think this would be a nuisance if someone was doing it in the work place and still remaining focused on work.

“…every human social network behaves as a gas…?

I started rambling on in a comment to sara m’s post, but I figured I should finish it here. I was talking about how most of my friends and family members are not “online people.? We have most of our conversations in person or over the phone. I then started thinking that maybe it is the reason I’ve never felt compelled to join any online communities or do any social networking. But then again, I don’t usually join anything and I’ve never played team sports. Hmmm…something to ponder.

For the next month or so, I will be at my busy little job where work gradually gets transitioned to other people before the lay off and I spend more and more time doing homework. The current environment is all face to face communication, with email being our only electronic communication. IM is blocked. At a previous job, we were able to use IM, and I liked using it to send quick messages. It was great getting an IMing etiquette refresher course in Connect!. I’m finding that book to be full of very useful information for my future work path—whatever that may end up being. I also think the examples in Wikinomics are very interesting.

Before I got my current job, I contemplated if I was the kind of person who could work from home. This was back in 2000/2001, so I don’t know if any of the applications we are using in this class were around back then. Anyway, I was really surprised that I could use Twitter and Facebook at my current work. I thought for sure it would be blocked (IM and MySpace are), so I’m going to try to get in the habit of using Twitter while I am still there.

In regards to the Licklider and Taylor article on computers as communication devices, I think it is a bit of a novelty and had to laugh at some of the statements and the graphics. It was fun to read to see what has come true and what has not.

The first line: “In a few years, men will be able to communicate more effectively through a machine than face to face.? I personally don’t think that will ever happen—as a whole I don’t think most people are very good at really saying what they mean. But when the article talks about using a computer to discuss modeling, then I agree the collaboration will work. “When communicators have no such common framework, they merely make speeches at each other; but when they have a manipulable model before them, they utter a few words, point, sketch, nod, or object.? (23)

His discussion of online communities on pages 37 – 40, is interesting. Letters and telegrams have pretty much disappeared, but business trips still happen all the time. And this certainly does not happen: “When you do you visit another person with the object of intellectual communication, you and he will sit at a two-place console and interact as much through it as face to face.? It’s usually one person at a terminal and one person hovering over the other person’s shoulder.

I really don’t know what to think of “OLIVER? (39). OLIVER seems like a combination of current social networking technology and also future technology.

Also, I like how “mice? is in quotes (25) and they have a graphic with a woman in a bikini…it’s very dated. One that is a little weird from a perspective of current events is the graphic of the smiling guy at a computer. He just pushed a button and on his screen a bridge is collapsing with trucks falling into the water below it.

On a side note on social networking. I occasionally check out the blog/website of my college roommate’s husband. I don’t usually understand what he’s writing about (he’s a computer guy), but I check it out anyway. Lo and behold, the week I’m supposed to start using Facebook and Twitter I come across this heading: Time for some anti-social networking. At least one of the commentators says he only uses Facebook and Twitter. Here’s his link: http://www.sellsbrothers.com/news/showTopic.aspx?ixTopic=2162

And here’s another side note. In a SETI reading for my journalism class, the article has the line, “We know that every human social network behaves as a gas…? Anybody care to hazard a guess as to what the author meant?

2 heads are better than 1

I was really intrigued with the chapter on platforms in Wikinomics. It really goes to show you that platforms that spawn from participation, do create innovation and value quickly in times of distress and need. For example, the katrinalist. After the screen scraping process headed by Geilhufe, the tech savvy team was able to sift information from missing people and organize it into central database which collectively contributed to a spread of massive participation from volunteers and high profile bloggers. I find this amazing. In only four days a usable program was put together with almost no money involved. Something as big as this would take time and money. This truly was "mass collaboration at its finest" (pg. 187). Another true and exciting point raised is "as long as the web remains open...services and components are constantly remixed and improved by anyone with the skills and inclination" (pg. 189). With this provided, platforms are the best way to gather outside sources of information, talent, and participation that enhances the capabilities of any business or person for that matter. I am all for platform benefits. However, I do believe that there is a fine line between legality barriers in questioning the use of certain material. For example, Radamacher did not develop his program further because he did not know about the intellectual property.

I find Facebook to be very useful. I believe that it is a great social networking site to use as agreed upon by Zelenka. I use it mostly to surf my friends "friend list" to see if there is anyone that I have hung out with in the past. I find this incredibly helpful, especially when I have lost my cell phone which happens quite alot. Then I can simply check on Facebook and send out mass messages and network in that way. I rarely find time to IM, and I cannot help but think this would be a nuisance if someone was doing it in the work place and still remaining focused on work.

SOCIAL Networking = WORK Networking = LIFE Networking

Facebook is known as a social networking site and is first known as just that: a social network. However, while viewing Jenny Spadafora's VoiceThread presentation, I developed a sense that social networking sites like Facebook are not just a social network but more than that. Furthermore, the chat that I attended tonight (Thursday 1/31) further developed my sense that they could be used as powerful work tools to connect with colleagues. In addition, Judi Sohn lays it out really well on using facebook professionally at http://webworkerdaily.com/2007/07/24/12-ways-to-use-facebook-professionally/

Of the 12 ways that Sohn described on how to use facebook professionally, I thought one of the most powerful ways was: "Look for old co-workers and current connections. I found more contacts on Facebook this way than I did on LinkedIn. Former colleagues have “Googled? me, and after a few emails to catch up we don’t communicate again. By adding these people to Facebook, I feel more connected to them without having to actively maintain a conversation via email. Look for business opportunities out of shared interests. (Sohn, 1)" To me, I have worked at a number of places. I have created many work relationships, but after leaving a job, it's easy to lose touch. By Sohn's suggestion, I could re-connect with former co-workers.

Another of Sohn's suggestions that I thought was powerful was to use the SOCIAL network site as a WORK network site was: "Join Groups related to your business interests. Many groups on Facebook are nonsense, but there are quite a few that can provide useful information and professional connections. Don’t miss the already existing groups for our parent site, GigaOm and sister site NewTeeVee. Each group can feature a Wall (like a guestbook…a continuous scroll of messages) and threaded discussion lists. Rather than trying to search for groups, watch the groups that your friends are joining, as often you will find them of interest for yourself. After all, they’re in your contact list because you have something in common, right? You might even think about using Facebook to virally address a business cause, as some are doing in their effort to save Business 2.0 magazine from going under. I only wish there was a way to see updated discussion threads on one screen rather than clicking group to group. (Sohn, 1)" Yes, there are many non-sense groups out there, but there are also some legit ones that bring individuals with common interests together . . . groups on Facebook like Ernst & Young Careers and Asian American Journalists Association. Connecting with these groups may lead to more opportunities.

Thus, Facebook (which was initially developed as a Social networking site) has many uses, including networking professionally (work networking). Furthermore, you could think of it as a life network. Think of all the people that you have met in your life that you have lost touch with. You could definitely reconnect with some of them on Facebook.

Speaking of life, it seems to get busier and busier as time goes by. Nowadays with the age of technology, life has gotten burstier and burstier. The topic of this week "workstreaming" could help in today's age of technology. As defined in Connect: "workstreaming, verb: publishing one's work-related acitvities and events to your remote colleagues to they can see what you're up to. ... Workstreaming is aimed at professional activities, though it may include personal updates too, when they're relevant for team bonding or for updating workmates as to what you're up to (Connect, 148)" People are running around with class, work, activities, etc. Therefore, sometimes it could be hard to know what's going on with your colleagues. Twitter is helpful in helping you know what's going on with your colleagues, loved ones, or your friends across the country. Just as there was a list on how to use Facebook professionally, there is one on Twitter: http://webworkerdaily.com/2007/03/15/eight-ways-twitter-is-useful-professionally/

Anne Zelenka gave eight ways. One of the ways was: "Get questions answered. Say you’re trying to put a plugin in your WordPress blog but it gives you errors. Tell your Twitter friends and someone might be able to help you. Now, you wouldn’t have emailed all those people to ask and you wouldn’t have instant messaged them either… but a broadcast message to those paying attention is a lightweight non-intrusive way to do it. (Zelenka, 1)" Earlier, Hilary asked if anyone was going to be on campus tonight. I replied saying that I'm on campus right now. Although we did not end up meeting, we were able to connect via Twitter. That's great!

With the application activities this week, they are both new to me. . . . I'll celebrate my 1-week anniversary in having Facebook and Twitter next week. Happy Early Anniversary! These applications are also new to some of you. I think something that is new can be exciting or be really scary. The UMN Guide to Living in Online Communities is very helpful: http://www.osa.umn.edu/safety/online_safety.html

Although the questions and the answers were kind of scary (it mentions stalking, identity theft, harassment, etc), the following sums it up wonderfully: "[Question] Should I just stay away from them completely? These online communities sounds scary. [Answer] This information is not intended to scare you away from online communities. The University just wants to make sure that you make choices that allow you to experience the benefits of these sites and avoid the negatives. (U of MN)"

We should not be afraid. The web has many uses: Social Networking . . . Work Networking . . . Life Networking. We definitely could benefit from it. In ending, the web is where social and work and life come together.

My closing thoughts:

Since I have joined Facebook and Twitter this week, I felt so new to everything. I'm getting more and more comfortable with the applications. I know there is a lot more that I need to learn. I will continue learning. We're always learning throughout life. It seems as though in this past week, I have consumed a lot of my time on Facebook and Twitter, thus I kind of feel as though I'm being sucked in. I hope I don't get addicted to them so that I cannot function (sorry if I sound too dramatic). Nevertheless, this is a learning opportunity for me. I hope I'm doing things right. I want to do things well. In the end, I want to do it right and do it well.

Facebook and the Corporate World...

I’ve been on Facebook for awhile now, I first logged in shortly after coming back to college. However, I have never found it to be very useful, those friends I keep in contact with I can usually talk to in person in the time it would normally take for them to get a message through Facebook. Problems with connectivity and over all technological issues with connecting to an online environment have always made offline storage methods of important information preferable. I have too many times almost missed class deadlines or been unable to connect to quickly check something before leaving for class for me to fully trust a web application to keep track of the contact information of people important to me. Unlike Zelenka, I don’t believe Facebook would be a useful tool for social networking outside of first meeting a person online. A persons Facebook page could then help someone get a sense of the person they are talking to in a way that isn’t usually possible with online communication. This would require people to be honest and not just fill the page with what they think people would like to hear or else the false impression would only hinder actual social interactions. Unlike Facebook I do agree with Zelenka that instant messengers can be an invaluable tool to help with social networking in a work environment to allow quick un-invasive communication between people in the same building and across the world. However, if the clicking of your keyboard is loud enough to become distracting to people in a conference call as Zelenka warns (Connect!, p. 160), then it seems that you probably have your microphone settings too sensitive or your keyboard should be replaced.

Currently connected: Local and Internet

A lot to digest again this week, and this time it's live online at the same time. This is just what I was hoping for - reimmersion in the social web and exposure to new tools, sites, and functions. The online chat this evening was especially engaging, and I thought a nice demonstration of the fluidity of these concepts and the directions they can run in the hands of a diverse community of participants. The conceptual framework provided by Connect! and Wikinomics alongside these actual applications really gives a lot to work with and contemplate.

Reading through the ideas presented in Chapter Six of Connect! and from Zalenka's definition of Workstreaming, I found myself wondering what the analogues were to existing (partially digital, but non-web 2.0) modes of work and doing business. The drier discussion of Amazon's and Google's innovations in Wikinomics, while impressive, interesting, and informative, didn't contradict my initial expectation of finding a respectable amount of "x is just the internet version of y" connections. Eventually, I concluded that most of those connections just wouldn't line up. "Orly?", you say? Sure, a grand revelation it's not, but our little multi-faceted practice this week drives the theory home - this actually is something new we're talking about.

Briefly on Facebook, it's not quite what I'd expected. I am not finding it as intuitive as some of the other social networking sites, which surprises me. I like the potential for closed networks within the larger scope, but I haven't had enough time to dig in to exactly how that works, and what's really protected versus public. It's a bit of a challenge, but I'm confident that means there are some rewards to be had.

Finally, I'd like to add in a strong endorsement of all of the tips Zalenka offers regarding etiquette (Connect! p. 145 & 163 especially). They align nearly perfectly with what I've learned from my own experiences using digital communication socially (albeit a while back), as well as with clients and vendors professionally.

Done writing and re-writing

I have spent most of this week attempting to write this blog post with little success, so for the sake of my own sanity I'm going to keep it relatively short.

I really enjoyed the chapter from Connect! this week but disagree with much of what it has to say. I personally don't think that there is an appropriate place for Facebook in many corporate environments. I find that most of my clients are trying to limit how much "digital communication" they participate in because they spend their entire day answering emails. The idea of using Facebook in the professional environment only seems to work for Web 2.0 or technology companies, an environment that fosters technological progress. Many finance or law firms are worried more about the legal implications of what their employees may put online then building new personal relationships through the web. On the other hand, I find Zelenka's suggestion of using Google talk in the office to be great. I work in a relatively small firm so it seems silly to pick up the phone to talk to someone only 10 feet away (in another private office) but yelling is neither professional nor courteous. So we spend a lot of time trading emails with each other which is inconvenient for quick questions. Earlier this week I implemented Google talk use between myself and a coworker. We love it, it allows to have a quick little personal chat to catch up or ask a quick question. Brilliant!

On another note, the Wikinomics reading brought me up to speed on the use of mashups. I didn't realize that Amazon and Google (two of the most powerful web companies) encourage freelance use of their material. It's interesting how Paul Rademacher was hired by Google because of the program he built to help himself find a house. Although, I do agree with the point made by Anil Dash on page 205 in reference to exploiting these contributors. I personally feel that individuals who make really great contributions on platforms for participation should receive some sort of compensation. If companies like Google, Amazon and Ebay are going to profit from the work of these individuals then there should be some sort of profit sharing, whether it should be a set amount or a percentage I don't know but some sort of gratuity should be involved.

Until later my fellow emergents.

This is all well and good, but...

...it seems a little clumsy, inefficient, and challenging. What I mean by this is mainly the outlets from which users have to work with. Building social networks using the various software tools available is great, IF they can find others. It all seems too decentralized to me. The following will explain this further.

Connect! Chapter 6 is chocked full of websites and tool sets for communicating. This is all great and wonderful, but the problem comes down to... which one(s) to use? Most people can’t possibly use all of them all of the time, nor do most people even know about most of them. They typically hear about the popular ones and those are the ones that get used, for better or worse. But are so many different systems really necessary? Could a system be made that integrates ALL of the communication outlets available? Could this be accomplished without the constraints of Intellectual Property Rights? It would be my desire to say yes as that would make truly global communication a reality.

So, how could something of this magnitude come about? Wikinomics makes reference to various companies (namely Google and Amazon) that reward and integrate new and interesting systems into their own. This would be a key developmental concept to keep in mind. My view is that there are too many windows, screens, and general clutter on the computer desktop to effectively maintain solid social networks while trying to get work done.

Currently, I have 3 windows, 6 gadgets and about a dozen or so web tabs open. Each of these is necessary to be connected to the social networks for class and for getting assignments done for my other courses. Half the time I lose windows in the clutter or close something that needed to remain open.

I do have ideas floating around my head, but they would require people who actually knew what they were doing to implement. First would be to integrate all of the social ports into a single system. One name links all of your info within a secure network. It would run from the desktop background rather than a browser window so that it would simply feel like the desktop of the computer. All of your friends, contacts, coworkers, etc would be simple moveable tabs with rollover capabilities under multiple programmable categories. Further, messages could be instant, emailesque, or urgent depending on the length, status of the recipient, schedule status, etc. One key component would be to make it feel like an organic user interface. Moveable, selectable, scrollable, fluid, possibly even 3D. It would use a p2p system so that no one server system would have to be bogged down at any given time. Automatically connected unless otherwise specified and fully integrated into the desktop itself.

Now this was just my brain hiccup in writing, but I think it’s important to write things as they come to you and even better to share them with your peers. I just think social networks are simply being bogged down by the decentralized systems through browser based programs. I understand that browser based programs are portable across platforms, but with the advent of IBM hardware in Apple machines, I think that the days where incompatibility completely inhibits cross platform networks, are coming to an end.

1. Tapscott and Williams. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. Portfolio Hardcover, 2006. Pg. 183-212.
2. Zelenka and Sohn. Connect!: Web Worker Daily’s Guide to a New Way of Working. Wiley, 2008. Pg. 141-171.

As a side blurb, it would also be neat to have translation software integrated. Where a person in the USA could type something to someone in Japan and it would translate "instantly". Just an idea...

Removed from isolation

In reflecting about the assigned readings this week, I find myself intrigued yet a little scared. Up until I had enrolled in this class I have gotten by with basic use of the internet and email. I almost feel in a sense that I have been isolated all of this time. It seems as though I am being introduced to a whole new world.

I think that is was mostly the fear of not knowing enough about it to try it. Part of me feared that if I were to post a MySpace or Facebook account I would be giving out information to complete strangers. I was unaware that you can protect your privacy. I was also unaware of the networking possibilties. It is such a great way to meet people and develop relationships.

I can see that this trend of social networking is going to become essential in the workplace. These tools are not only being used for personal reasons anymore. Whether the people you work with are sitting in the neighboring cubicles or in a country around the world, you need to coordinate and collaborate (Connect!, pg. 154). Virtual teamwork has made the workflow so much more efficient. While the telephone still does hold a purpose, not everyone has time to talk during the day. This comes in particularly handy when working with people in different time zones.

What I find interesting is that while I have often spent an afternoon at work waiting for an important response to an email, when in fact there are alternatives that are more efficient and allow you to be able to multi-task. With the use of instant messaging it allows an immediacy that doesn't always work with email. It also allows a more fluid conversation. Until reading about this in Connect! I have just associated instant messaging to that of my younger cousin who communicates this way with her classmates. I now see how it could be very useful in a work setting. Finding a time to schedule a meeting can be close to impossible. With the use of status updaters, tools like Twitter allows you to provide status updates of what you have accomplished. This makes it very beneficial in team projects in which your status affects their progress.

In regards to the reading in Wikinomics it has become clear that businesses now days must "open up your platforms to increase the speed, scope, and success of innovation." (Wikinomics, 185). Companies like eBay, Google, and Amazon have had extraordinary success by doing so. Being able to obtain external ideas these open platforms have been able to innovate much faster than solely relying on the limited amount of internal resources.

I have learned a lot of information this week and in a sense feel less isolated. Implementing this new technology into my life is going to take some work, but I feel the benefits will be limitless.

January 30, 2008

Aaron Sorkin weighs in

I have a longer entry in the works, but I came across this quote by The West Wing writer/creator, Aaron Sorkin. Seemed applicable to the course. What do you think?

"I am all for everyone having a voice; I just don't think everyone has earned the microphone. And that's what the Internet has done."

Media or misanthropy?

In thinking about the readings this week, only one strong theme emerged for me and it’s a personal one. Perhaps others can relate to this subject however and so I will share it here: I don’t think I can deal with an “interactive ethos (1)?! Being connected, online and in-touch 24-7 with multiple networks of people is overwhelming—isn’t it? Or has privacy and solitude become a form of misanthropy?

Until enrolling in this class, I have proudly lived the lifestyle of a Luddite: I have no computer, no iPod, no iPhone, no Internet. I don’t even have cable TV. I got my first cell phone last Saturday but only because it was free. I used it once then forgot all about it. Clearly, I am going to have to create a demand for it in my life because I don’t think I really need it. Isn’t that sort of ironic?

I haven’t taken to information technology because I’m used to being annoyed by it. During the work day, I have to be on at least 4 channels simultaneously all day: email, voicemail, Basecamp and UMCal. I can never focus on just one thing at a time and I’m expected to respond to everything faster and faster. The pace at which I work literally makes me dizzy sometimes. By the end of the workday, I just want silence. No more communication!

On the other hand, cell phones and iPods make me feel left out. My last boyfriend spent more time talking on his cell phone than talking with me. My nieces and nephews rarely communicate face to face anymore. At family gatherings, they pile onto the couch with their iPods and cell phones, each connected but neither to each other nor me. My best friend always abandons me at parties for his cell phone. And my mom insists on calling me from her car then accusing me of hanging up on her when the connection fails.

I still don’t own a computer and in many ways, I don’t want one. By the time I’ve stared at a computer screen for eight or more hours on my job, I really don’t want to stare at one at home. If I had my own computer, I’m afraid I’d take freelance jobs and never stop working. My social skills would atrophy…

Last night however, I realized my Luddite days are ending. I stayed at work late to set up accounts on Facebook and Twitter. I linked Twitter to Facebook. I sent tweets to my colleagues. I checked out 43 Things. When I got home, I plugged in my cell phone to charge it.

Outside, the wind was howling and my house was freezing. I piled on the blankets but I still felt cold—and more importantly, alone. I wanted someone or something to keep a light on for me through the night. I grabbed my borrowed laptop, turned it on, found a wireless connection and logged onto the Internet. I left the screen glowing all night because it felt like something living watching over me. By morning, my niece had discovered me on Facebook and now I have a window on her life that I probably wouldn't otherwise have.

The trend of social networking makes me feel both isolated and eager to join. I feel isolated because I’ve stayed outside the fascinating communities forming online. So I can't wait to join networks that will extend far beyond what I can reach in the physical world. What I find most compelling about social networking however, is the potential for making positive social and political change. Chapter 7 of Wikinomics opened my eyes to the innovative and effective ways citizens, nonprofit and governmental organizations are utilizing Web 2.0 applications to address significant problems. I want to be part of that revolution.

Adopting a more interactive lifestyle is not going to be easy for me. Unlike, Zelenka who implies that more ways to multitask are better (2), I need the option to focus exclusive attention on at least a few important things: reading, writing or really listening to someone. And I need the option to not focus on anything to restore my mental energy. The challenge for me will be finding ways to protect a sanctuary of silence without falling off the social web.
________________

1. Tapscott and Williams. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. Portfolio Hardcover, 2006. Pg. 36.
2. Zelenka and Sohn. Connect!: Web Worker Daily’s Guide to a New Way of Working. Wiley, 2008. Pg. 145.

A Little Zen for Your Life...

I am addicted to the Web Worker Daily Website now. I check it multiple times a day and have found many useful tools for my job so I thought I had to share. My favorite thus far is something called DarkRoom (Windows) and Writeroom (Mac). I spend several hours a day writing between my classes and work. By the end of the day I tend to become easily distracted so this program is a blessing in disguise. It makes your entire screen black except for the brightly colored text so that all distractions are out of eyesight. You can't tell when emails come in and you aren't drawn to surf the web wither. It reminds me of the really old desktops we had with the black screen and green text but it works wonders. I highly suggest it, especially for anyone who is writing difficult material such as dissertations or proposals.

Workstreaming 101

Hi I'm Tracy and have to admit I am a bit confused with the workings of Facebook and Twitter. I did set up my accounts, but I am not sure how to connect them to our class. Also, I am not sure if you all have access to my accounts, or do I have to add you. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

January 29, 2008

Twitter aggregators

I’ve been fiddling with Twitterific, a Twitter aggregator, this afternoon. It's proved surprisingly useful: I don't have to remember to check twitter.com, since all of your tweets automagically appear on a little widget on my desktop and I can also enter tweets there. The end result looks like this:

Twitterific screencap (for 4662W students)

You can see the grey Twitterific bar over on the left-hand side. It makes Twitter much more useful and real-time. (For instance, Amber and I just had a very briefly worded conversation via Twitter and email.) There are a couple of other, similar programs available if you're interested in fiddling with this sort of thing. Here are links to all of them that I'm currently aware of:
Twitterific (for Macs)
Snitter (for both macs and PCs)
Twhirl (for both as well)

Btw, this is the first entry in our "awesome apps" category. Feel free to post to this category yourselves, since I'm sure you're all also aware of cool apps that make your lives a little easier (or more interesting).

UPDATE 1/31: I twittered this yesterday, but I’ll say it here too: Twitterific’s ads are so annoying that I dumped it for Twhirl. One of the things that really irritated me was that there was no obvious freemium option — that is, no option to upgrade to a paid, ad-free version. I’m fine with paying for things, but not with being forced to accept advertising.

Dis- or misconnected

I'm Sara, a confirmed Luddite and dutiful student of WRIT 4662 suffering the humiliation of absolute ignorance about Twitter, Facebook, etc., etc. As per our assignments for the week, I just set up accounts in Facebook and Twitter. I sent Tweets to 4 colleagues at work and finally found my way back to this blog where I'm placing virtual 911 call for advice on Twitter and Facebook.

I can't figure out how to connect my facebook page with the facebook page for the class though. Is anyone willing to help with this confounding linkage? I will post endless worshipful comments to your blog posts in return for assistance.

Another question: I know I can control who can find my Facebook page but it wasn't evident to me whether someone who I have not admitted as a friend can find me by searching for my name. I must admit that it was very uncomfortable for me to post my name. It doesn't seem secure.

And, can Twitter messages really be only 150 characters?

January 28, 2008

Guest Speaker: Jenny Spadafora, Intuit Innovation Lab

I'm going to post these talks here as well as in Moodle. Don't forget that there is commentary for each slide. If you have trouble seeing the talk bubbles, try clicking on the Floating Head of Jenny on the left side.

New template!

I've changed the template so as to better accommodate embedded media. Nobody panic.

January 26, 2008

Because "Urgent Emergents" just ain't right.

I’d love to give our blog a better name than the rather bland "Emerging Technologies in STC," but I’m coming up dry on this one. If you've got idea, leave it in the comments. Best one wins!

Update 1/26/08: I’m moving this up top just in case anyone missed it before. Great responses so far, but more is always better for this kind of thing.

January 25, 2008

This is awesome!

My goodness! There is so much diversity in this class. I hope this blog can help those of us who are not as efficient in the applications required for this course---and for our careers. And, of course, if there is anything us non-techno geeks can do for anyone, just ask, there are plenty of us to say 'help is on the way'! Thank you all!
Amber

What is to come

What is to come
Hello everyone! My name is Hilary and I am in my final semester here at the U. I am majoring in Scientific and Technical communications. I have been in the program since I was a freshman. I have always been a very strong writer, and interested in the new developing technologies that have advanced our world with scientific breakthroughs especially with new medical devices and procedures that help many people throughout the world. I have wanted to work as a medical technical writer for a couple years now, but have recently been interested in web design and development, though I have not really had much experience with either. I have no work experience thus far in my interests and am currently figuring out what I am going to do for my internship. I am familiar with facebook, photoshop, dreamweaver, flickr, AIM 6.0 and I have just recently started to blog for collegerecruiter.com, which uses the same publishing platform (MOVABLETYPE). I am trying to work out a way to gain experience as a writer by blogging about new medical discoveries, and somehow use this to fit into my internship criteria, since it would be a virtual internship. I do want to pursue graduate school through the S & TC program. I feel that the past year I have become even more interested in the program and I feel that just getting my B.S. would be scratching the surface, and I don't want my education to end just yet. I enjoy playing poker, watching movies, and playing soccer, which I did here at the U. I am originally from South Bend, IN. (GO ND!)...That's right I said it. However, I moved to Ohio when I was 12, and that is currently where my family lives. I am a Cleveland Browns fan (because of Brady Quinn of course). I also enjoy polishing my knife collection for fun and keeping potential boyfriends chained up in my closet.... JK.

I have been an avid internet user since beginning college here at the U. I do not have much experience in open source usage or even blogging for that matter, probably since I have been so busy with school. A couple years ago I had heard about open source identity and stumbled upon Dick Hardt's Identity 2.0 presentation which was very interesting. His ideas for accessing information across a vast amount of sites without having to fill out site registration every time was ingenious, and a step in the right direction for open source intiative.

After reading Connect, I evaluated each work style (bursty vs. busy) and tried to figure out which style I would lean towards more. I really liked the structure that a busy style would provide for me, but on the other hand I liked the independence that I would be capable of if I ventured outside the bubble. When I think of a busy style, I think of an individual that is focused and has their mind set on a particular goal. When I think of a bursty style, I think of a dreamer who is not limited to restrictions, but may not be focused well enough to grasp what they want because of the lack of structure. I guess in order to be successful I would have to grasp both concepts equally. The busy style would allow me structure so that I could evaluate my goals in a timely manner, and the bursty style would allow me to prod around and experiment with different opportunities that might stimulate productivity in some manner.

I am very excited about open source networking, I feel that the shift towards mass collaboration creates opportunities for companies like GoldCorp as well as smaller businesses and individuals for that matter. I had no idea that anyone could access MIT's curriculum for free and engage in collaboration among faculty about the content and actively participate in a global knowledge based forum. It makes me think that anything could be possible one day through the internet. However, with open source and free expression with blogging comes negativity and flaming. Anonymity is very attractive, and as pointed out by Zelenka, people often say things online that they would never say to your face. However, I do agree with Zelenka when she says that over periods of time and with multiple interactions, the person you are connecting with online will show their true colors.

In this class I am hoping to expand my knowledge based on open source networking, and start seriously blogging in areas that interest me. I feel that by peer collaborating daily in blogging forums will help me to expand my knowledge in new medical technologies.

The Red Queen Theory

Hello everyone, my name is Quinn, and I am a third-year Scientific and Technical Communications major here at UMN-Twin Cities. I am an avid car guy, with a love for everything from all-wheel drive rally cars to sixties muscle. During the summers I can often be found at a Wednesday night car club, or running the quarter mile on the weekends.

However, as a college student, the only muscle cars I have are on the pages of magazines. I find most of my time these days is occupied by talking with people. I have always had a natural ability to communicate with someone, especially when there is a task to be completed.

This course sums up a lot of my own focus for the future. I am very focused on the positives and negatives of Internet communication. How do you communicate feelings and emotions through text? My drive in life is to help people through technology. I feel that between my own communicative abilities, and my studies in Scientific and Technical Communications, I will have the right tools to improve certain aspects of business and social communication.

I will be the first one to admit that I am an absolute fan of technology. Example: “It may cost two thousand dollars more, but that stereo sounds great!? Of course, this is usually followed by the wants vs. needs equation kicking on in my head, and I walk out of the store.

The advancement in technology is best shown in a performance car equation. If you want to go twelve seconds in the quarter mile, it’s going to cost X. If you want to go ten seconds in a quarter mile, its going to cost X * twenty.

These days, we are expected to complete more tasks, because now we have access to faster computers, faster Internet, and better and faster communication tools. However, I think that this rapid pace with which we are expected to produce work is going to hit a wall.

Summed up nicely, the Red Queen theory, says that we are running to stay in the same place. I think that this is one of the best ways to describe the current workload demands due to technology.

I’ve been using the Internet for the longest time. I remember the upgrade from 28K to 56K. I’ve moved from playing games on the Internet to conducting business through a website development firm in India. But even this early on in my career, I am under the belief that the pace is out of control, and if we don’t get a handle on it soon, I think that we are in for some trouble.

I think that the tools and knowledge that can be gained from this course will be vital to producing the correct communication tools and structures for the future of society and business.

Seeing with a new perspective

Sitting down to write this post has turned out the be the most difficult task this first week of school. So, despite my strong desire not to start with the standard introduction of myself, I find it my last resort. I'm a Nutrition Science major with a scientific and technical communications minor. After graduating I plan on attending law school with a focus on corporate law. One of my favorite ways to spend time is, actually, working. I work for a communications coaching and consulting firm in downtown Minneapolis and my time spent there has proven to be infinitely valuable.

As for my technological experience, it began when I was really young, maybe 2nd or 3rd grade. Ever since the beginning I taught myself through trial and error, always keeping in mind that there was almost nothing I could do that could not be fixed later. Today, I handle all of the IT support for my company including server and webpage maintenance and still continue to learn new things everyday. I try to keep up with as much Web 2.0 material as possible but find it becoming increasingly more difficult as new applications are appearing at a faster pace. I am familiar with and use many applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, Gmail, etc.

I found the readings really interesting and thought that they provided me with a new perspective I have neglected to notice in the past. I really wanted to discuss the ideas of busy and bursty work as I found them somewhat perplexing. Just from my experience in the corporate world I do feel like we are making somewhat of a shift to bursty work but busy obviously still takes precedence. With technology being what it is today including email, texting, blackberrys, etc. there is no real way to escape work. This forces a bursty style on all professionals but coincidentally it seems that this shift is fueled by the busy nature of the corporate world, as referred to in Connect!. I don't believe that it would be possible for the most successful people to be what they are today if they worked only in a bursty style and Zelenka seems to agree with this. I feel that it is impossible to complete everything that needs to be completed with a bursty style of work. Many projects actually will require complete concentration and I don't feel that a bursty style is conducive to that. Just in my own personal experience, while reading the chapter I could easily pick which colleagues and clients fell into which work style. It seems that the ones with the least amount of stress and the most success are the ones who tend to have a more busy than bursty style. I do not feel that bursty is bad but rather works best in conjunction with busy. Perhaps this understanding will help me discover what works best for me.

My Life in Technology and the Web

Hello all, I’m a senior in the S&TC major. I am a returning student to college life after a three year break to experience “the real world?. As of this moment I’m not positive exactly what I want to do upon graduation other then some form of technical writing. My hobbies and methods of relaxation involve books, movies, video games, and writing. As of this moment I am un-published but have several short stories that I hope to get published after they are finished.

My life in technology started when I was young and our family got our first Apple II computer giving me several years of experience using Dos and command line interfaces. I’ve built my own computers and have some minor experience in programming in Pascal, and Java. I’ve been using the internet since its instigation to the public domain starting with a few bulletin boards and eventually MUD’s. However, my experiences with Web 2.0 applications are limited. I have heard of many of the web applications that Zelenka mentioned on page 29 and 30 of her book, but have only used Gmail and Hotmail. I have a face book page and a live journal page, but do not check them or update them with any kind of frequency.

I love and hate the internet. I love the access it gives me to the world and those people that live in other areas of the world. There is no other place that I know of where you can get into a live and animated discussion with people all over the world from Minnesota, to Maine, to Norway, and Australia and everyplace in between about any topic of conversation that interests you. A person in Minnesota can shop in a store that is only located in Florida. This aside I also hate the internet for what it can do to people. It is very difficult to avoid the type of impatience and anger one feels when your normally fast connection to the world at large slows down or crashes leaving you feeling disconnected from all the information and people that you have become attached over your time spent online.

So, you're a cowboy astronaut millionaire? Welcome aboard.

Greetings, Emerging Tech collaborators, I'm Jim O. It is my great pleasure to participate in this unique project, and hope our exchange over the next few months will be productive for all. By way of brief introduction, I have been working as a Geographic Information Systems professional in various capacities since the year 2000, and am currently serving as Operations Manager at a specialist research/historical data firm serving the environmental site assessment industry. I am a returning student and chose this particular course for the opportunity to combine three topics (STC, Web 2.0, and the I35W bridge) that are both personally interesting and professionally applicable. If I find some time between coursework and the office, I'll be trying to get out to play or watch some hockey, or maybe just get out of the city for a day.

My technological background includes extensive coursework in and application of desktop GIS technology, and I consider myself a well-versed user of the web and PC software. I've been an active user of all sorts of online applications (message boards, AIM, eBay, mapping apps, gaming, social networking, Google Reader,etc...) since the mid to late 1990s, but my attention to the new developments has lapsed over the past two to three years, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to get back up to speed on the latest and greatest.

To the reading...

As an individual with my own ambitions but also in the role of a semi-corporate manager, this week's chapter of Connect! presents an interesting dichotomy of ideas. The conceptual shift to web work and “bursty? productivity, away from traditionally structured modes of doing business, offers an ideal of personal development and lifestyle freedom that does not require sacrificing the expected financial and professional rewards of the existing knowledge work infrastructure. The concept reads rather like a renewal of the initial promise of telecommuting, with a more tangible chance for wide adoption via the ever-improving tools and accessibility of the web. From a personal standpoint, I would consider that to be very appealing. At the same time though, underlying the enthusiastic language of Connect!, it strikes me that the bursty protocol demands much from any would-be practitioner.

Being connected at all times is relatively simple, but the demonstration of authenticity (pg. XV & 10) without personal contact presents a new challenge. Translating a history of successes and experiential learning (ie, failures) and demonstrating technical, problem-solving, and innovational credentials authentically to a truly global audience, all the while protecting other aspects of personal identity, is no basic task. Third parties to these past successes and failures (ie, employers and clients) often have vested interests in preventing exposure of either. Even under Web 2.0, a website, blog, or profile can not rewrite itself to spin these factors for each potential reader's unique perspective, and simple interpretation of language can create widely differing (mis?)understandings of any single point or experience. Great diligence is thus required simply to establish and maintain an authentic web worker identity, toward the greater goal of keeping an opportunistic door open. Skipping over the additional concern of personal financial and professional risk for the sake of space, all of this also assumes a web worker who does have some experience or capabilities to share in this environment of open collaboration. What then is the role of the entry-level person without experience, credentials, or technical expertise? Are they to exist as lurkers until they agglomerate enough knowledge to fully participate and sustain themselves as web workers? One might easily come to the conclusion that the knowledge work path is still requisite in establishing a foundation for most individuals interested in making the transition to web work.

A point too on the other side of the coin: the employer's perspective. Not all web workers will go off to pure independence through entrepreneurship and freelance work. Many if not most are sure to remain within some form of corporate environment. Moving to a bursty model of productivity for even a part of a company's workforce introduces new risks and challenges at the organizational level, possibly adding to or even conflicting with the risk and challenge for each individual. Zelenka touches upon some of these organizational downsides in Connect!, but in my opinion the Carr blog raises the point more directly: “Implicit in the ecstatic visions of Web 2.0 is the hegemony of the amateur.“ No matter how many voices are out there offering support, advice, content, and data, accountability does have to be maintained, or projects will fail. Failure costs time and money, and corporate tolerance for either is limited at best. More importantly though, professional judgement and ethical standards of practice exist at the end of the decision-making ladder, and somebody's signature will go on the end product (contract, report, policy document, or whatever). With legal and professional liabilities overarching our entire culture, a web alias or a .com address is simply not a viable substitute for the actual knowledge work upon which final decisions must be made and products generated.

Last, I'd like to put the above in relief against something I noticed in Connect!. In the introduction (pg. XVII), Zelenka identifies the book as a “manifesto and practical guide for the working world...?. Manifesto is a relatively strong term, and I believe it does reflect the author's core purpose in regard to furthering the idea of the bursty web worker. However, later on (pg. 21), after other comparatively minor caveats throughout the text, she adds:

“One style is not better than the other, but the bursty style is likely to be undervalued because it looks unproductive and because it can be unproductive. There are no guarantees that your bursty experiments will always or ever succeed and you may lose credibility...?

While certainly realistic, this also looks rather like a large hedge to me. Regardless, nothing is black and white, and I think these two remarks from the text help illustrate the inherent uncertainty of everything under the Web 2.0 umbrella.

Thank you readers, and I look forward to seeing your other takes on the blog.
Cheers-
Jim

First time for everything

Hello everyone! My name is Tracy and it has been a while since I've been a student. I am by no means a techno geek. I do use the internet on a daily basis, but mostly to check news and email. I am a little familiar with My Space with the guidance of my sister. I have taken longer than planned to obtain my degree, but I figure it's better now than never. I am in the Inter-College program with emphasis in Marketing and Writing Studies. I live in Buffalo with my husband. I have worked the past 5 years in the mortgage industry which is a far cry from what I had planned.

Most recently the mortgage industry has changed quite drastically and has left many of us with fears of losing our jobs. I have been very used to "busy" type of work. There wasn't the option to be "bursty." I would be considered the typical knowledge worker. My only means of networking are within the organization and my priorities are set by my manager. This type of work makes creativity and opportunity very limited. After reading the first chapter of "Connect" I now have a new understanding of the importance of bursty type of work. It is extremely important to incorporate both types of work with balance.

I realize that it is coming time to change my career and I am very excited to use my degree to accomplish this. I am not familiar with how all of this new technology works. I have to admit that it took me a while to learn how to add to this blog. I admit that I am a bit nervous not knowing too much about how all of this works, but I know that practice makes perfect.

I am familiar wtih the internet and for the most part stay "connected" by email with friends, family and co-workers. It truly excites me to know that we have the abilities to become connected and share information with people that are complete strangers. I didn't realize until reading that story about the goldmining company that sharing confidential information could open up so many opportunities and save a drowning company. The invention of Wiki's have helped people from all locations and educational levels can come together to develop something truly amazing.

I am really excited to be taking this class and to learn how to become connected into today's world. Wiki's have made such an impact on bringing new ideas and strategies to the table. I hope that this class will enable me to be more bursty and assist me in reaching my new career goals.

Let's get started!!

The other half of the Web 2.0 equation.

By sara m.

Tim O’Reilly, Kevin Kelly, Anne Truitt Zelenka, Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams all seek to define the phenomena and philosophical principles of Web 2.0 and predict the economic, social and political impact of this most recent trend in information technology. These authors share the belief that the Web 2.0 is ushering in a new era of unprecedented significance that will change all aspects of our lives. They also share, albeit in varying degrees, a belief in the utopian promise of Web 2.0. Zelenka claims that 2.0 webwork embodies the ideals of authenticity and abundance, for example—in addition to profitability (Zelenk, 2008). Tapscott and Williams invoke democratic-sounding ideals to describe their concept of “wikinomics?: business and production based on openness, “peering,? sharing, acting globally, community, collaboration, self-organization and horizontal interaction (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, pg. 8–9). Moreover, they claim that wikinomics is ushering in a world in which knowledge, power, and productive capability will be more dispersed than ever before in history (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, pg. 12). Kelly is the most reverential of all, praising blogs and open source software for creating a vast and growing “gift economy (Kelly, 2008).? He credits hypertext linking with propelling a mass participation movement that has overturned traditional economic practices and founding a new culture based on sharing (Kelly, 2008). With the emergence of the culture of sharing, Kelly claims that “ … the Web has embedded itself into every class, occupation, and region.? He declares that online culture is now more than mainstream: “online culture is the culture (Kelly, 2008).?

Kelly’s declaration is recklessly sweeping and unfortunately, it exemplifies an extreme version of another theme common to these authors: techno- and ethnocentricism. Kelly claims the existence of universal online culture shared by “everyone?—yet everyone knows that a majority of the world’s population does not have access to computers or the Internet and is therefore excluded from online culture. Moreover, he assumes that all possible outcomes of the Web 2.0 trend are good and good for everyone. O’Reilly analyzes Web 2.0 in more neutral terms than Kelly but assumes the inherent value of the trend. Like Kelly and O’Reilly, Tapscott and Williams tend to glorify technology but acknowledge that in reality the Web 2.0 trend is “ … both a blessing and a curse (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, pg. 15).? They turn this observation into a threat however, warning that everyone must get connected or perish.

The utopian vision of the Web 2.0 era also suffers from a lack of critical analysis. In his blog posting, “The Amorality of Web 2.0,? Nicholas Carr calls out the assumption on which these arguments are based namely, that technology is inherently good. Carr argues that technology is amoral. The moral value of its effects depend on how it is used. The positions taken by Kelly and O’Reilly lack this objective view of technology. Carr challenges the credibility of their claims by asking whether it is possible that not all the effects of Web 2.0 era are good?

Testing Carr’s counterargument reveals that, with the weak exception of Tapscott and Williams, these authors ignore or gloss over the other half of the new Web 2.0 socioeconomic equation.
Consider the outcome of the contest sponsored by Goldcorp Inc. from the perspective of the mass participant and winner, for example. The winner of the contest received $575,000. Unquestionably, it was an attractive award but it was only a one-time payment. The Wikinomics authors point out that the winner’s ideas yielded “ … copious quantities of gold … [and] catapulted his underperforming $100 million company into a $9 billion juggernaut? that has become one of the most profitable mines in the industry (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, pg. 9). Stating the obvious, the authors conclude that McEwen and his shareholders are very pleased with the outcome of their experiment in openness: “One hundred dollars invested in the company in 1993 is worth over $3000 today (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, pg. 9).? Tapscott and Williams do not do not calculate what the contest winner lost by settling for a one-time payment of prize money, while the company continues to reap the rewards of her/his ideas. The authors praise Proctor & Gamble for pursuing similar practices in openness and mass collaboration: “Rather than hire more researchers, CEO A.G. Lafley instructed business unit leaders to source 50 percent of their new product and service ideas from outside the company. Now you can work for P & G without being on the payroll … can help solve tough … problems for a cash reward (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, pg. 13).? While this type of practice is definitely innovative and promotes participation, the rewards are not distributed equally to all participants. The company realizes the significant savings of a reduced payroll in addition to ongoing profits from contest winner’s ideas while contest participants receive a single payment of prize money.

Research into another of the Wikinomics exemplary companies, Foxconn, reveals other negative effects of the Web 2.0 trend. Foxconn is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of today’s most popular electronics including iPods and iPhones, personal computers, mobile phones and Wii videogame consoles. According to Tapscott and Williams, the company exemplifies how the wikinomics business model is enabling young people in developing countries to join the global economy “on an equal footing (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, pg. 13).? They describe the company town run by Foxconn in Schenzen province, China, as a place where “people work, live, learn, and play on Foxconn’s massive high-tech campus, designing and building consumer electronics for teenagers around the globe (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, pg. 14).?

The perspective from within the Longhua Science & Technology Park belies this utopian depiction. In his article “The Forbidden City of Terry Gou? published in the Wall Street Journal Online, Jason Dean describes Foxconn’s business model and the disparity of wealth distribution between “participants? and owners. He reports that employees live inside the walls of a secured company compound which few outsiders are allowed to enter. Most employees work on assembly lines earning the legal minimum wage in China of about 60 cents an hour with the option of higher pay for overtime. Most employees work 6 or more days a week. Their monthly earnings including overtime pay range from $155 and $230/month before deductions for housing, food and health care. Meanwhile, Dean reports, Foxconn’s revenue has grown more than 50% a year in the past decade to $40.6 billion last year. It is expected to add $14 billion in revenue in 2006 (Dean, 11 August, 2007). The CEO, Mr. Guo, is himself now worth $10 billion (Dean, 11 August, 2007). Although allegations of labor abuses at the compound have not been confirmed, an investigation conducted by Apple (the company’s largest customer) concluded Foxconn’s practices generally comply with their policies regarding treatment of labor. It is grossly misleading to suggest that Foxconn workers are participating in the new economy “on equal footing? with Mr. Guo and the shareholders.

Dean’s report also suggests that the Foxconn culture and ethos also contradicts the Tapscott and William’s ideals of horizontal organization, “peering,? and sharing. He reports that Guo maintains a very top-down style management. For example, he has published a book of his own quotations that managers are expected to remember including the following: “No. 133: “The important thing in any organization is leadership, not management. A leader must have the decisive courage to be a dictator for the common good (Dean, 11 August, 2007).? Guo also reminds his workers that “The group’s benefit is more important than your personal benefit (Dean, 11 August, 2007).?

These examples indicate that Carr’s suspicion is correct: there is a dark side to the latest technological trend. Examining the other half of the Web 2.0 equation reveals that technology does not guarantee the good of all. It can and in some cases is, widening the digital divide and producing profits for a few at the expense of many. Rather than worshipping Web 2.0 technology, Kelly, O’Reilly and others would serve society better with less dramatic but more objective arguments that consider new developments from all perspectives, not an elite few.


Bibliography

Carr, Nicholas. “The Amorality of Web 2.0.? Rough Type. http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2005/10/the_amorality_o.php, 3 October, 2005.

Dean, Jason. “The Forbidden City of Terry Gou.? Wall Street Journal Online. http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB118677584137994489.html?mod=blog, 11 August, 2007.

Kelly, Kevin. “We are the Web.? Wired. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.08/tech_pr.html, 2008.

O’Reilly, Tim. “What is Web 2.0? Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software.? O’Reilly. http://www.oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html, 30 September, 2005.

Tapscott and Williams. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. Portfolio Hardcover, 2006.

Zelenka and Sohn. Connect!: Web Worker Daily’s Guide to a New Way of Working. Wiley, 2008.

January 24, 2008

WHO AM I? MY LIFE ON EARTH AND IN WEB 2.0

Who am I? What do I do? How do I live? Where do I survive? When do I eat, sleep, breathe? Why all the questions? I could go on and on and on about myself. Have a question? Go ahead and ask. For the time being, here's my life in a snap-shot (well, more of a panorama view). I was born on April 28, 19 . . . okay, BORING! . . . Instead of giving you a novel, let's just give you a short story. Well, it's not going to be that short. However, it beats a 500 page autobiography! So let's not delay in telling everyone who I am. So, without further ado, here it goes . . . and feel free to enjoy some popcorn while you're reading this. . . .

Energetic, fun, friendly, hard-working, lively--those are some of the words that people use to describe me. I'm a little out there, but that makes me more fun I guess! : ) I was born overseas. My parents, who also had two other daughters (who were born before me and that makes me the youngest), immigrated from the other side of the world to America, America! Since we were really, really young when we came here, I don't think of my sisters and I as foreigners. We pretty much know American pop culture and all that . . . my proof . . . flashback to the 80's . . . Michael Jackson, big hair, banana clips, tapered pants, spandex, leg warmers -- all those were hot when we were growing up. Take it to the 90's . . . MC Hammer--"Can't touch this!", Mariah Carey and all her hit songs including the one I cannot get out of my head right now--"There's a hero if you look inside your heart, you don't have to be afraid of what you are; there's an answer if you reach into your soul and the sorrow that you know will melt away, and then a hero comes along with the strength to carry on . . ." I love that song!

Anyways, can you tell I get easily distracted? J/K--well, not really. My mind is always thinking and thinking and thinking though. Also, I'm always going and going and going. At any one time, I'll be involved in many activities, perhaps working multiple jobs or participating in several extra-curricular groups. Right now, besides taking this course, I work at a broadcasting company. They have a couple of TV stations, radio stations, a web based network. I work with their local TV stations with their traffic a.k.a. continuity. Traffic in media means advertising/programming--making sure that the daily flow of commercials/shows is correct and accurate. My job is kind of hard to explain, but an easy way to think of it is that I am a scheduler. It sounds easy, but there's a lot more to it. I love my job. I love the people I work with.

I also love a lot of other things. I love being involved; hence, outside of class and work, I participate in a student group. I also volunteer at an organization that prepares and packages meals to homebound and ill people. In addition, I am on an alum board, serving as Vice-President: Communications. That sounds important, but it is just the local board. If I am ever on the national board though, you might hear the sound of horns (due to me tooting my own horn). I try to take care of myself not only physically but spiritually. Once a month, I visit a group of nuns--and I'm not kidding--they call themselves "Nunz in the hood" because they are located in the inner city. They are great, and they love their location because it allows them to do outreach where they are at. I'm always looking to do outreach and making the community and world a better place. That sounds cheesy, but I always want to improve myself. Improvement is something that never stops. One way I strongly think that I am able to improve myself is through lifelong learning. That is why I am taking this course (and frankly it also fulfills a requirement). I pursued my B.A. here at the U a few years back, and I have returned to the U pursuing the Grad-level certificate in Organizational and Professional Communication.

So here I am now--taking this course and telling you about my life. The Web has become more and more important to not only my life but other people's lives. It has become a necessity as I think many times to myself: "what would we have done before without it?" When I think I know a lot about the Web, there is so much more that I don't know. Going over the assigned readings, repeated thoughts included, "Wow, I did not know that!" or "Interesting, I learned something new!" Just as I would like to continue improving, I would like to continue learning about Web 2.0. I first heard about Web 2.0 at my last job about 2 years ago. There was a position opened where that person would dedicate his/her time on Second Life, which is a virtual community. It's like living your life on earth but on the Web. If anyone is interested, the site is http://www.secondlife.com. What is interesting is that some major companies have invested their time in Second Life (such companies like my former employer). Honestly, it's hard for me to comprehend -- in terms of valuing a virtual community vs. actual community. What would the world be like if it were all virtual? That boggles my mind sometimes.

When it comes to my interactions online, I try to keep my life on earth the same as my life on the Web. I don't want to live another life online. The web is always changing and emerging. In the article, "What is Web 2.0?", it gives us an illustration of the evolution of the Web . . . from 1.0 to 2.0. That was very helpful for me to understand the web now vs. the web back then. To be honest, I am not a super-expert when it comes to technology. I think that I am tech-savvy (in terms of being able to use the computer), but there is a lot more that I would like to learn. I hope to learn a lot in this class. Live and Learn!

Reading material that really interested me . . .

"Ten years ago, Netscape's explosive IPO ignited huge piles of money. The brilliant flash revealed what had been invisible only a moment before: the World Wide Web. As Eric Schmidt (then at Sun, now at Google) noted, the day before the IPO, nothing about the Web; the day after, everything. (Kelly, We Are the Web)"

I totally remember 10 years ago, and I totally remember how Netscape Navigator was "da bomb"--lingo back then meaning really cool. It was only 10 years ago, but boy, have things really changed. I remember it took "forever" to load a web page. Also, do you remember when there were web addresses of well-known companies that did not even own their website? There was a person who would create web addresses URL's of well-known companies without their approval. If I recall right, Coca-Cola was one of them. Boy, has the web changed within a decade! Very fast!

"There is only one time in the history of each planet when its inhabitants first wire up its innumerable parts to make one large Machine. Later that Machine may run faster, but there is only one time when it is born. (Kelly, We Are the Web)"

Okay, the last quote really concerns me. The part where it says that "Machine may run faster", what if the world is taken over the Machine(s) and destroys us? You see that in science-fiction, but sometimes you have to wonder. That's why it concerns me.

"Due to deep changes in technology, demographics, business, the economy, and the world, we are entering a new age where people participate in the economy like never before. This new participation has reached a tipping point where new forms of mass collaboration are changing how goods and services are invented, produced, marketed, and distributed on a global basis. (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, p. 10)

Yes, I agree that technology has changed and developed tremendously in such a short time. Thus, changing the economy. Technology has changed how we live life. For example, instead of going to the store to buy items, you could shop online. Therefore, not only does a company have to think about marketing at a store but also marketing online. Also, take the political campaigns for example--the candidates are using YouTube to reach the audience. That's something different!

This class is very timely for me...

First a little background…I’m Michelle and I’m a Master’s student in the STC program. I’ve been working on this since 2004, so I hope to finish this year. It’s taken so long (seems like forever) because I’ve been working full-time and only taking one class at a time. I double majored at St. Kate’s in English (writing) and studio art (2-D/photography). Right now I work as a technical editor for one of those companies that is described in Wikinomics that uses “traditional business thinking? and is full of busy work. I’ve also worked as a technical writer.

Why is this class timely? Because I’m going to find out in the next couple weeks whether or not I’m going to be losing my current job. The company made a political promise to create jobs in Louisville KY, so they are moving my entire department. No relocation, but if you want one of the new jobs, you can apply for it, try to sell your house here, and then move. No thanks. I actually feel sorry for the people that get hired down there because they are going to have to learn a lot, but the people that would normally teach them what they need to know won’t be around to help them learn the processes…and it is a very process-driven organization.

Since I first heard the news (and I realized I don’t have to worry about insurance because I just got married this year and I’m on my husband’s benefits), a whole new world of possibilities has opened up for me. I have been thinking about contracting and not going back into a “normal? work life. I think I’m ready for “busty? work. So this is why this class and these readings could not have come at a better time in my life.

I am not a techie person, but I like to learn new things. The term “Web 2.0? was unknown to me before reading the class flyer. But after reading the assignments, I get that it is all about collaboration and openness. I also get that it is being used and abused as a “meaningless marketing buzzwork,? though it can’t be that common yet, or else I think I would have heard of it. But then again, I wasn’t aware of most of the information that Kelly put in his mini history lesson.

Some of the things I’m looking forward to learning more about is how I can present an identity for myself on the web, but also maintain privacy. I prefer to be a “behind the scenes? kind of person, so I’m not sure how it can work both ways, but I was glad to see that Zelenka says it is ok to “lurk? (14) when you first start out. I’m going to have to get over my personal bias regarding people who spend a lot of time on the internet…this is a result of one of my brothers and how he used it to avoid his responsibilities.

I’m also interested in trying out some of the web-based software that Zelenka mentions on pages 29-30, especially for photo-editing, illustrating, and the calendar function. I never knew they existed.

Can’t wait to see what everyone else has written!

Practice makes perfect.

O.K., I think I have just found out how to add to this blog. I am not quite sure how I found it but I will continue to practice, practice, practice.

I am relatively new to the Tech Comm world. I like to write but had no idea I could make money from it. My first passion was to follow in my parents footsteps and become a nurse. But, I had a job at AT&T I could not leave because of the 25 years invested in my pension (30 years is soon to come...yee haw!). I am now working on my second career.

I am no techno geek but I am familiar with the internet and intranet. I have dabbled in Facebook and My Space, Wikipedia, and my son's blog (now there is a techno geek). As I started the readings, the fear-inducing questions that popped into my head was what is a Wiki, Flickr, del.iicio.us, and Twitter. After reading the first chapter of "Wikinomics" I now have at least a basic understanding of what a Wiki is. I looked on the websites for the other items and am now consuming myself with trying to figure them out. This may be a slow process for me, but I am gung-ho about it all.

I can relate to Peter Druckers definition of Knowledge worker. I work for a Fortune 500 company. I abide by their rules and regulations. I am only allowed to use the resources they deem fit for us. While there are a few web-based applications we use, they are predefined and include a firewall. All of our information is proprietary and we have the busyness of step-by step processes in place. Everything revolves around time and money (Zelenka, 2008, p. 3).

I am aspiring to become Om Maliks Web Worker. In addition to the knowledge work I will continue to accumulate through my 30 years with my current employer and my schooling, being able to interact on a global basis on my own schedule is extremely appealing. Having a search engine at my fingertips bestows upon me the power to create what I want to create when I want to create it (keeping in mind there are deadlines to hold up to).

Even though I am used to doing "busy" work, I want to be busy in a bursty way. I am very capable of forming relationships and doing so in a new way---via the web---excites me. Sharing my work along the way, as in the story of the goldmining company, opens possibilities for enhancing my knowledge and possibly my future earnings. How many times have I thought, "you know, if I could just get someone to see this idea I have, what could be done with it?". The openness of Wiki's makes it possible to share those ideas with people from many walks of life and many geographical locations.

So, as Krista said, and away we go!

A chance to be a nerd, for credit!

Hello, everyone! I'm Jennifer, and I'm a Political Science major. I live in St. Paul with my music-teacher husband and our two non-musical cats. I'm a super-super-super-super senior because I've had that pesky problem of not knowing what I want to do with my life. I've spent the last decade slowly finishing my degree while dipping my toes in writing, photography, politics and - most recently - financial aid (I'm a financial aid assistant at a local Catholic college).

My family's first computer was an Apple IIC, and I was instantly in love. My dad was a technophile, and I followed suit, salivating over each upgrade. My friend's father, an Apple rep, brought home a scanner when I was seven, and I spent an evening - in awe! - scanning my drawings while my friend sat bored in the living room.

My parents signed up for a Prodigy account in 1993. I was a shy, nerdy kid who was thrilled to find a platform where I could communicate without the horror of face-to-face interaction. I spent a fair amount of time on BBs and IRC, and - when it became available in the AOL years - instant messaging. I started a personal website in 1997, after researching the musical RENT online, and finding the online diary of an obsessive RENT fan. Diaries? Online? For everyone to read? The concept piqued my interest, and I've updated my own site since then, though the hosting has changed (originally on an AOL server, now have my own domain) and I don't post as frequently.

While I found convenience of e-commerce interesting, what really fascinated me was the idea that I could find or read ANYTHING on the internet - any idea I had was already there. I've seen the internet go from its Compuserve-days to its sprawling, behemoth-like present state. I feel like I've been a (quiet) living witness in some ways in the development of the web, and I'm excited to take a course like this because it's the first time I'll be able to say, "Hey, I remember that! I was there!" Never thought I would get a chance to brag about THAT.

Tying into the reading, one of the concepts I've struggled with (and which Wikinomics addresses) is the idea of specialness, or, more accurately, how the internet has dissolved some of those hierarchal lines that make "specialness" possible. Anyone can be a writer or reporter or expert these days, and inherently, I believe that's a good thing. But there's that nagging feeling - is it really OK for EVERYTHING to be so easily achievable now? Is there merit to the old-world struggle of becoming a writer or journalist or scholar? The Wikinomics authors see this egalitarian system as a positive change. I think they're right, and I think any hesitance I might feel is ego - there's something satisfying about working hard to climb a ladder, and then feeling that slight superiority as you watch others try to get to where you are. Though it's rampant with ego - more so in real life, I'd say - the internet has a way of flatlining this type of arrogance. Though I don't think the internet is quite as egalitarian as the authors suggest, there's truth to the idea: on the internet, you can be anything you want, and your dreams are often more achievable than in the analog world. But does this concept encourage mediocrity? I struggle with this, too.

I look forward to this class!

Cyberesque Greetings From David

From my living room at home, I send greetings to all who are taking this course, stumble across the blog by accident or are simply looking over the shoulder of another reader. My name is David and I am an IT student studying electrical engineering. I have an associate of arts degree in graphic design/communications, specialized in 3D animation from my first attempt at college. I have since completed 2 years and most of my MNTC at Normandale Community College specifically for electrical engineering. This will be my first semester at the UofM:IT.

My experience with computers and the internet is fairly vast. I generally grew up with video games in the house. We had everything from a commodore 64 to a genesis, but it wasn't until our first computer (an apple 6800 power pc), that I took to electronics with great ferocity. A combination of AOL instant messenger, a drive to modify every bit of software available and new programs being offered at school gave me the skills I needed to become proficient with digital media at a rapid rate.

After high school, I tried my hand in software engineering and programming. I decided I would rather do graphics, so I spent 2 years at Brown College finishing up a graphic design degree specialized in 3D animation. I soon realized that if I wanted a job in that field, I would have to move to a coast or work as a janitor for a design company for 12 years. Ultimately, I didn't want to do either. I got a job working for Kinkos and got married to my wife, Ellie.

The first few years of our marriage, she was finishing school and I was working. Once she finished, I was able to quit my job with Kinkos and pursue my education in electrical engineering. Now I am 2½ years into school with about 2 years left to finish my B.E.E.

I have participated in many forums over the years as well as beta testing for various computer games. I have written reviews on pieces of software, both retail and open source. I also have a fairly extensive programming background, though I don’t practice it enough to keep myself fresh and proficient. My passions generally lie in gaming and game related environments.

I have to say that I found the readings interesting and almost directly along my way of thinking. I've always thought that, in order for a society to truly succeed, a few things have to happen. First, human greed would have to be greatly reduced, if not abolished. Second, mass collaboration would have to become widespread, accurate, and be held to a highly ethical standard. This isn't to say that people would spend their lives working as in the modern capitalistic framework, but to an extent that progress is achieved. Finally, competition would have to be minimized. That said, competition does play an important role, but I say this only to the extent that people aren't wasting time determining the best way to bring about the demise of their opponents. Competition does help to keep people honest as well as weed out the poorly executed from the well executed procedures, but it should be used by the "winner" to help the "loser" to become better or find a path more suited to their skills.

In correlation to the Connect! book, my ideals have always been to work remotely without a corporate officer looking over your shoulder constantly. I, personally, work far more effectively and productively when I am not under the constant watchful eye of my superiors. It has always appeared to be a huge waste of time when an employee is trying to achieve some goal and their boss is standing next to them, doing nothing productive themselves, watching every move made, but doing nothing to help. This idea further applies to the current corporate cubicle. No human does well in a cage, whether it be a prison cell, grounding to a room as a kid, or a cubicle at work. Many people become bored, unmotivated, and unwilling to work to their full potential when they are forced into a 9-5, office meeting, computer terminal, cube for a third of their life. I do hope this model is forced into change by the idea of global collaboration and connectedness. The technology has spawned the ability for people to work the same amount or more, but at a pace far more comfortable and accommodating to themselves and their lifestyles. But the old corporate officials are slow to change and relinquish the power they have worked their whole lives to achieve. It will take some time and retirements before significant change can be made at the corporate level, but if we all contribute a little here and there, I feel the change will come sooner than later.

Well, I've rambled for a little more than I had anticipated. I am finding the Wikinomics and Connect! books to be decent reads and quite close to my way of thinking.

All in all, I am looking forward to this course and to working with each of you. Digital media has been my "thing" for the past 15 years or so and I hope I can share and contribute effectively toward this collaborative effort being put forth by each of us.

I thank you for your time in reading this.

The following image was something I simply found amusing on a gaming site that relates to one of sections in the Connect! book, so I decided to link it. Enjoy!

Photobucket

January 15, 2008

and away we go.

As I mentioned in the email, you’ll need to change the way your name appears on the blog. Right now, it shows your full first and last names. You should modify this to show your first name and last initial. This will shield the writing you do here from Google searches for your full name.

To change the information, you’ll begin by logging on to Uthink at http://blog.lib.umn.edu/. Click on the "Login to UThink" link at the top of the sidebar.

UThink Login
(You can click on any of these images to see a larger version.)


Once you’ve logged on, you’ll see the main MoveableType menu. Your screen won't have all of the same blogs that mine does, of course.

Changing names in MT 1


Click on the welcome link with your x500 ID at the upper right corner.

Changing names in MT 2


That’ll take you to the Author Profile screen, which is pretty self-explanatory. (I’m not screencapping it here because I don’t want to release my ID to the world.) Update your info, click “save changes”, and you should be good to go.