John Gonzaba Blog #11

Posted: November 19, 2010 by jgonzaba in Techology, Uncategorized

Ron Burt’s paper and experiments were done in 2004, which was arguably prior to the widespread, heavy use of Web 2.0 technologies and social media. What effect will the increasing use of these forms of media likely have on his hypothesis? In other words, do you think the strength of his findings will increase or decrease, and why?

Since Ron’s experiments were done in 2004 and the grow of Web 2.0 has grown his changing would have been a lot different today. Instead of looking at the technology and having a deterministic  view on the matter we need to look at the social aspects. Ron’s findings explain that we be close to the social holes in order to gain new ideas or creativity, and in some respects I agree with him. However, social networks can provide unlimited and valuable information if used correctly for creativity. While some of the other bloggers explained that having a bunch of friends may automatically make you a broker. This is not the case in my opinion, and it all comes down to the person who utilizes the network. For example, on Facebook, I have friend (fake names for respect) Leon who will add almost anyone to his social network without really having a connection to this person. Furthermore, he doesn’t communicate at all after adding but wanting to keep his friend list high. Thus he is not gaining anything from the friendship (by commenting and reading from others wall’s), like Ron’s experiments were showing. Another example is Jessica, she has many friends and connections due to her photography hobby, but also reaches out and communicates to mostly all her friends. Her commenting/debating/jokes allow her to have an outlet of information and new ideas.  This proving that Ron’s experiments and findings were just partially true.

We can’t think that we are stripping our individualism due to Web 2.0. Sure, there is more infrastructure and we can fall into groups rather easily. Its up to you to keep an open creative mind and how we use to technology to achieve it.


Ian U Blog 11

Posted: November 18, 2010 by iuessele in Uncategorized

Okay, so here’s the big question: Ron Burt’s paper and experiments were done in 2004, which was arguably prior to the widespread, heavy use of Web 2.0 technologies and social media. What effect will the increasing use of these forms of media likely have on his hypothesis? In other words, do you think the strength of his findings will increase or decrease, and why?

When I first read the question I initially thought that the widespread use of web 2.0 would increase the strength of his findings. Web 2.0 has created a stronger ability to connect with different groups, but the strength of the connections is what I believe makes his findings less applicable today. Being the connecting bridge or “broker” between different groups widens ones perspective and increases the likely hood that others will deem your ideas as good. Web 2.0 allows you to connect with many people in ways that could not have been easily accomplished just years ago. On social networks the majority of the people I know have four hundred plus friends. Many of these contacts are part of different groups that would not usually socialize or collaborate together. In a sense the person that is friends with all of these different people would act as the bridge between the various contacts. In the readings Burt would classify this person as a broker connecting many different groups. According to Burt’s writings this person should be influential and looked upon as someone with many “good” ideas. However, most of the time people with many connections don’t have  strong bonds with other individuals.  The weak relationships with many online friends can discredit and limit the effectiveness of the broker in spreading ideas or influence.

Evan Samuels Post #11

Posted: November 17, 2010 by ebsamuels in Uncategorized

Before reading this extensive article, I thought that the increasing use of social media actually hinders peoples’ abilities to connect across networks.  My reasoning was that, with social media, there are so many networks that we are apart of that I feel that many people (including myself) don’t feel connected at all—we spread ourselves too thin. We have so many connections, but very few of those connections are very strong.

As I started reading, I did agree with Ron Burt’s point of how people reach out to different networks eventually learn more and get new, and sometimes better ideas if they did not reach out. However, what I disagreed with was the issue of communication. Ron Burt found that “between-group brokers are more likely to express ideas, less likely to have ideas dismissed, and more likely to have ideas evaluated as valuable ” (page 2). I think, in a structured, institutionalized setting like a large business or a university, expanding your networks of knowledge and people can be challenging, but is extremely effective and useful. However, in a very unstructured environment, like the Internet, people have so much opportunity to make connections and form networks that the value of the interactions decreases.

Evidence for my claim is supported by the fact that Ron Burt observes how C-level people are not near structural holes that connect networks and thus aren’t as knowledgeable about the spread of ideas. So Ron Burt admits that this divide between high-level executives and managers and employees perpetuate the “segregation between the worlds” (page 47).  This is very relevant today in a structured atmosphere (like a big business or university).

As a result of all of this research, I think Ron Burt’s findings are becoming more important. To manage the communication issues that are holding back the companies that were described in this article, are that many new business (the best example being Google) are becoming more transparent, less structured, and more casual. In this model, there is more incentive not just to be efficient and stay on schedule, but deeply discuss issues in order to add value to the company. Ron Burt even explains himself that there is  “shift in focus from the production of ideas to the value produced” and that “the source of an idea is no longer the focal question; what matters is the value produced by the idea, whatever its source ” (page 41) Ron goes on to say that an idea is no less valuable just because it involves a different part of the business, it just valuable in different ways.

So, the challenge going forward is two fold. First of all, there should be an emphasis on being able to create enough connections outside of one’s own network so that people can discuss new ideas outside of their own domain. Likewise, there should also be a limit to those connections enough so that there is a concentrated focus of ideas and not an overwhelmed overflow of information. It is better to have a few foreign connections that are strong than many weak connections.

Andrew Spicer Blog #11

Posted: November 14, 2010 by spiceram in Uncategorized

Ron Burt’s hypothesis which states, “The hypothesis in this article is that people who stand near the holes in a social structure are at higher risk of having good ideas. The argument is that opinion and behavior are more homogeneous within than between groups, so people connected across groups are more familiar with alternative ways of thinking and behaving, which gives them more options to select from and synthesize” (349-350).

While I believe the hypothesis is very relevant today, I feel as if it will be short lived due to the use of Web 2.0 and social media. In other words, it will be increasing still for a time to come, but unless there is a drastic change within the way we use these technologies in the next few years, we, as a society will become much more connected to each other and more homogenized, leading for the holes within the social structure that Burt describes to become smaller and smaller.

An example to support my claim that this will create a more homogenized environment can be found on page 358. “Fleming (2002) describes such a process within Hewlett-Packard where company policy was to move engineers between projects rather than having each project hire and fire individually. The result was that Hewlett-Packard technologies were constantly mixed in new combinations. As an engineer described the experience: “I had to work in a single field for only two or three years and then like magic it was a whole new field; a paradise for creativity” (358). While this is very true during that time period, moving throughout a company and working with people you may have never known before was great for brainstorming new ideas by working in an unfamiliar environment. Today, these unfamiliar environments barely exist. Whether two people within a company never meet face to face, they can get to know each other through social media, which leads to a less diverse way of doing things.

To take this outside the realm of social media, look at Wikileaks. Even documents that pose a threat to national security are becoming public knowledge. Leading for people to know what is going on everywhere at almost anytime, which leads to those who do remain outside of the social scope that Burt hypothesizes, becoming increasingly rare.

Blog 9 Sam Dearinger

Posted: November 11, 2010 by smdearin in Uncategorized

I apologize for this being so late, after it was pushed back I had forgotten about it entirely in the midst of other school work and it also being pushed back.

Question: Please take a few minutes to examine and analyze a digital platform or artifact from the Lunenfeld and Briggs angles. As you will see from the readings, Lunenfeld is most concerned with how the artifact or platform has an unfinished aesthetic for the people who engage it, and Briggs is most concerned with the effect of that engagement on people’s ability to more fully participate in the future. (note: Lunenfeld’s point is not just about leaving things unfinished and messy, and Briggs’s point is not just about connecting people with information, so read carefully)

I think that blogs are a good internet artifact that Briggs and Lunefeld could consider in there writings, Briggs as a participatory platform and Lunefeld as an unfinished, changing artifact.

Briggs analyzed Tocqueville’s writing about town meetings in the 1800s and how they functioned to create a community through participation. Briggs went on to say web 2.0 artifacts are a digital form of town meetings. Blogs are a great example of one of these artifacts. Users “gather” online and express their views and concerns and leave “the floor” open for comments. And through this process, a community is formed through discussion and debate. In this comparison, blogs and town meetings are identical except for the online/offline factor.

Blogs, though published, are unfinished and ever-changing. It is possible to alter the post after publication but most importantly, the discussion continues with each comment and response by the author. Bloggers generally post personal views which allows other users to agree or disagree, stimulating debate and discussion. This creates an ever-changing, never finished dynamic. Throughout the course of discourse, views may change or be challenged, possibly providing more information about the arguement even after its initial publication.

Blog 10 Sam Dearinger

Posted: November 11, 2010 by smdearin in Uncategorized

Multi-tasking: the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.

The concept of multi-tasking has existed for a while, activities like talking on the phone and writing a memo. But with new technologies, mult-tasking has become a whole new skill. Now, multi-tasking includes jumping from one window to another, whether it be an actual computer window or a conversation with your boss.  It involves being able to focus on each activity diligently but also being able to switch and work on all activities effectively. As Jenkins put it, being able to maintain “continuous partial attention.”

Older generations may have trouble honing this skill or even recognizing it as a skill. “Multi-tasking is often confused with distraction” as Jenkins stated, and older business training methods focused on the task at hand. Resistance to wandering the internet during work time can be seen in early days when computers and internet were brought into schools. Cyber patrol websites were set in place to keep students from accessing anything besides encyclopedias and even surfing the web at work was frowned upon. Older generations have been slow to realize and embrace the networking potentials of the web.

 This is in part due to how they were raised and in part that these technologies came about after their learning curve. Older people were settling down in the knowledge they had, making them slower to learn new things. Business models of a decade ago were becoming more law like and less apt to change. This is, of course, until the internet proved itself as a powerful networking tool. Now people in business are learning to write blogs while sending out work emails while making important calls while posting company events on Twitter to alert consumers.

Blog 10 Ian U

Posted: November 10, 2010 by iuessele in Uncategorized

Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information

( Judgment of information in today’s participatory society)

Using sound judgment to determine the credibility of information  is becoming more important in today’s new participatory society. Twenty years ago the flow of information to the masses was more controlled than it is today. There were fewer sources producing information. The few that could spread information were set at higher standards in terms of reliable content creation. Not everyone could easily propagate their ideas or knowledge to many. The amount of information flow was limited by the technologies that gave few people the ability to reach many.The few that were able to be heard usually consisted of experts with the credentials to prove it.  They were known and rarely unanimous to the people. Experts and professionals were the main source of information to the masses. TV producers would not air programs that included expert advice or insight by people who weren’t really experts. The same goes for books. Most popular books contain information written by experts in the field. Not everyone was given the opportunity to be heard, but now the internet has changed the rules.

Today almost anyone can upload content to the internet, and this information can be accessed by the masses. Non experts can now spread information as easily as the experts. Because of the lack of expertise involvement in the majority of information more and more unreliable content is available. The creators of information can be unknown making it difficult to gauge the quality of content. Without the ability to correctly judge what is credible and what is not, unreliable information will be obtained through the internet. With more sources to choose from good judgment is now imperative so that one can filter out what is and isn’t reliable information.

Side note – I am not saying that one has to be an expert to put out credible information. Nor am I saying mass media(TV) in the past didn’t willfully put out false information or skewered opinions by “experts” in order to advance a particular group i.e.  propaganda. I am arguing that because anyone can easily upload information, there is more information out there and being able to judge between the good and bad is becoming more difficult because of the sheer quantity of it.

People who are not accustomed to the new ways people receive information might find it difficult to see why this skill is becoming more important. If older generations are accustomed to reading information and they do not judge whether its reliable or not they will have a harder time deciding what is good information and bad. To find good information one has to develop this judgment skill. Without good judgment  false information can easily be interpreted as reliable.