Main

February 3, 2008

Too chummy with your co-workers?

First, a general comment: as I mentioned in my introduction, I've been extensively involved with the internet for years now, but I've always been better at the observer role. I rarely comment on blogs I read; I rarely write on Facebook walls and my own blog - though this hasn't always been the case - is updated every month or so. (Twitter is the exception - something about the snappy entries and the single-person nature of it makes updating easier for me.) What I've always liked best about the web is that a passive role is OK, and generally accepted. I can respond if, and when, I feel like it. It's strange to have what I've considered a leisure activity bumping against school and work. While I generally like the internet's role in business and other formal communication, I'll be interested to see how I shift gears.

A thought about the texts: In Connect!, the authors mention that web communication allows "team members to get to know each other on a human level" (Zelenka 56). This is advantageous - especially for those members working cross-country or transcontinental - but I see downfalls. With Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., the internet rapidly exposes more detailed information than one might hear around the water-cooler. In five minutes, I could discover my colleague's birth date, marital status, weekend plans, kids' names and even religion and sexual preference. I'll have a pre-determined idea of them before we even begin a project. Instead of meeting a blank-slate co-worker, I've already painted them. Another disadvantage is that the line between co-worker and pal becomes a little blurry - while, often, co-workers become friends, there often needs to be a level of professionalism present to get the work done. I think the internet makes this professionalism more difficult. What do you think?

I've really enjoyed reading everyone's thoughtful entries. I look forward to next week - it's fun to see how everything's coming together.


--

Zelenka, Ann Truitt. Connect!: Web Worker Daily’s Guide to a New Way of Working. Wiley, 2008. Pg. 141-171.

February 1, 2008

Perfecting my Practicing

Setting up Facebook, Twitter, my information on our moodle forum...what a week! I still feel a little lost, even with the crazy amount of time I have spent on these things. So, Twitter is used for "ambient intimacy" (Zelenka, 2008, p147), Facebook is used for networking (Zelenka, 2008, p149), our classes blog page is used for providing information we have learned from the work we did the previous week, I am not quite sure what the moodle forum is used for, where can it all come together? Do we have to have all of these tabs up so we don't miss anything? The answer, I am finding out, is yes. Even though Twitter will feed to your Facebook page, it is not "real time" so having the Twitter page up in a separate tab is necessary. I am curious as to where it ends. Will there come a day when we have one homepage where all of these things can be displayed? Kind of like our own web page with our moodle, Twitter, blog, and Facebook displayed for only those we allow to see. If I am understanding this weeks reading in "Wikinomics" correctly, a mashup may accomplish this. The stories of housingmaps (Tapscott & Williams, 2006, p183), and PeopleFinder (Tapscott & Williams, 2006, pp185-187) explains how "mashing" together existing platforms can create a website that is what you want it to be.
Before I can go even deeper into this conversation, I needed to look up what a platform was. according to The American Heritage Dictionary (2008) it is "the basic technology of a computer system's hardware and software that defines how a computer is operated and determines what other kinds of software can be used". Supposing Twitter, Facebook, a blog page, and a forum page are all platforms, or on another platform, can it be possible to incorporate all of these things onto one page, set up specifically for the user? And then add del.icio.us and Flickr at a later date? Only time will tell, as I said above I am perfecting my practicing.

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
Thanks ever so much to David, I have now learned RSS feeds. I set up a feed for our blog and our twitter onto my Facebook page. I guess we could consider Facebook as our platform and twitter and our blog as added platforms? In any case, I am no techno geek, that is for sure, so learning how all of these applications can be used is daunting and exciting. Thanks, David!

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.

Continue reading "SOCIAL Networking = WORK Networking = LIFE Networking" »

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.

Continue reading "This is all well and good, but..." »

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

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.

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

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?