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Today’s topic is Networks of Power. There are a bunch of questions after I read the articles: Do we need power in cyberspace? If we do, what kind of power it is? Will it be something we familiar or something new? Will the power powerful?

In our daily life, power is everywhere but difficult to be sensed. It is difficult to be sensed because, partially, we get used to it.  If we borrow the idea that “the cyberspace is a mirror of the real world”, we can draw a natural conclusion that the power will be in the cyber space. I bet that many of the “netizen” familiar with what this power are influencing their digital life in some way or to some extent. We may fight with them fiercely when we do not pay enough attention to the new power networks in the cyberspace.

Not too long time ago, Wikipedia shows its “power” to the world. Of course, someone may justify it that the shut-down activity is for protesting the “power” in the real world. However, the power of the intelligence and knowledge should not be neglected only because they may use this power in a positive way or on a positive trend. There is an irony in this event that not all of the Wikipedians agree to block the website to protest pending anti-piracy bills. Actually, there is a voting process before the decision was made. The fact in this event is that most members’ voice makes the final decision. Does it sound familiar?

Will the power powerful in cyberspace? Let us wait and see.

Will the Power Powerful in Cyberspace?

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RT @judithdyck58: Kadushin’s world has

RT @judithdyck58: Kadushin’s world has an index. Small groups, small worlds, small mercies. @KateInAlberta #COMM506

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Some thinkings on the longest chapter

Wow, finally I finish the readings for this long chapter. What a chapter with all kinds of complicated concepts and theories! After reading all of these, I do have a question falls into category of “eggs and chicken”. In terms of the relationship between an individual and his/her social networks, is that the individual shapes or builds up the social network first, or are the social networks this individual has shape who he or she is first?

People get used to judge one person on the basis of their judgement on the person’s social network because they believe one person is similar to the persons he or she hangs out. It is difficult to distinguish whether these judgements is on the person’s social circle or on the person’s social group, therefore, these judgement can be very unfair and inaccurate.

If we have a close look at the one’s group selection, we will find out that most of our group selection is a two-way process, which is very different from the cases in biology cases, as one of our readings describes. The ants and bees cannot actually choose or select their group. As soon as they are involved with a particular group, they cannot change the group or choose who they want to work with. But apparently, we can. The human being’s group selection is more flexible and more dynamic. At the same time, the group can select an individual. For example, a professional organization may contact a well-known expert in a certain field and invite this expert to be its member.

However, as a member of this natural ecological system, human beings have some group selections that they cannot decide at all. As soon as we are born in a particular family, a group selection has been accomplished automatically. We are in a particular social group based on the location and the social networks of our parents and the other family members.

The question comes again: which one comes first? It seems that the one way group selection comes first. We have a social networks framework since we were born. This framework depends on many factors that we cannon choose. Within this framework, we select our group, and also are selected by groups. Where social media fits in? For me, social media expand this framework in terms of time and space.

 

Why not Take One Small Step?

Today’s reading is in regards to the organization and network. Nowadays, the banditries of organizations blurred because of the wild spread through internet and social media. According to the theory of our textbook, organizations, probably even as small as a local coffee shop, has become an “open system”. The advantage of this change is that organizations can access more resources, and the operation and management for an organization can be highly improved, while of course, some challenges such as privacy policies and public relationship are also bought about.

If one takes a close look at the attitude to social media use of different organizations, he or she may find that the attitudes are really varied. Some organizations make good use of social media as an effective communication channel and a marketing strategy; some organizations starts catching up and try desperately to integrate themselves with the current frameworks in the new era. However, the others are still hesitated to step their feet into the “new world”.

According to my observation, the reluctances to step out depend on various factors, e.g. the nature of the organization, the technology preference of management, and also the expectation level on social medial. Some organizations feel that they are facing a dilemma regarding the use of social media. Take the settlement service providing non-for-profit organizations as an example, many of them find themselves in a difficult situation. The reasons include: first, their services are information-service natured, and requires a high degree of confidentiality, so the management find risky to skip to the world of social media; secondly, the reputation is critical for the organizations of this nature, and using social media for them is like exposing them under the sunshine. You know, sunshine is beautiful, but sometimes it can be harmful, too.

In my opinion, the main problem they have is that they do not regard themselves as an “open system”. One thing they forget about might be that in this world now, no organization is a closed system any more only because they do not open themselves to the web world. People will comment, twitter, and blog the organizations even though there organizations choose not to show up in the frameworks. If these organization put down their bias, and consider about integrate social media into their management, they can make use of social media in many fields, as the graph shows below:

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What is Changed by Social Media?

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The readings for these two days touch a common topic that how people integrate internet, web and social media in their personal life. One point of view is that people’s life is completely changed, while the other insists that nothing has been changed.

Frankly speaking, I did not feel the “change” as strongly as many people do. One reason, probably is that I grow up with the development of the web and social media, and I take it for granted. The other reason is related to the feature of my community. Chinese community is a very dense community, and the characteristic of it is not the “cluster model” as our textbook describes: with many “holes” and “weak ties”. On the contrast, it is a “network model”, where the people are linked and connected through their won social networks. It is similar to the current situation of the social media, through which people can always find “friend’s friends”.

However, at the same time, I have to admit that social media do speed up these connections and spread the connections across geographic barriers.

In our textbook, one point was emphasized repeatedly that the social networks and the seminaries among the nods inside the social networks are inter-dependent and inter-influential: the more similar the nods are, the more possible that they are in the same social network, and vise visa.  The social media, though, realize one amazing thing that the nods with different interests, purposes and background can co-exist in the same social network harmoniously. I think this is a crucial change that people can share, cooperate and collaborate even though they do not have “the same feather”.

 

Western Community…Asian Community…? Really?

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In today’s reading, two concepts which were brought up: Western community which emphasize individualism, and Asian/traditional community which emphasize interdependency. Given the context that we were talking about the psychological foundation of the social networks, many in-depth discussions were conducting on the class. However, I do need time to figure out whether the differences between these named communities result from the psychological foundation.

In my opinion, the psychological foundations for the social networks (communities), no matter western or Asian, are the same: the desire of connecting and the need to keep oneself safety. The most convenient way to realize it is to interdepend. The value of “independence” and “individualism” emphasized by the western community were not embedded in the western society when its social networks came into being. I do not think that any social networks or community can survive without interdependency.

It is true that there are differences between the western community and Asian communities, however, it will be a rush judgement if we say that the differences between them result from the different psychological foundation. I think it would be more rational to me that the differences result from the different approaches or characteristics of the historical development when the social networks were formed.

Asian communities come from a typical agricultural culture. During its development, people settle down wherever there is fertile land. Few people will travel around because they have nothing to live on when they lost their land. Land, as we all know, is fixed asset, which cannot be moved. Therefore, people live in the same place generation after generation as long as their land can meet their basic needs. Around the fertile land, people get together and begin forming the social networks. These social networks will be comparatively fixed, too.  Under this circumstance, people will tend to collaborate with each other and depend on each other. They collaborate because one’s help for the others will be rewarded, in some way, in the future; they depend on each other because they realize the fact that if they are going to live together in the same social network for a long time, people have to be dependable. If one person is not reliable, he will not be accepted as a member of the network, which conflicts one’s nature of pursue safety sense.

On the contrast, western social networks came into being on the basis of changing and travelling. Sometimes the western culture is called “sea culture” because of its origin: Greek culture, which is a typical culture values adventure and reason. If one traces the early Greek literature, he will find that most of them, if not all of them, are about adventures. No one who depends on the others during the adventure will be praised, and sometimes, the fact is that the travellers do not have anyone to depend on. The value of reason results to thinking independently, and draw one’s conclusion regardless of the other’s bias. As Dante says, “Follow your own course, and let people talk.”

I know that my interpretation on this topic is very limited, but I do believe that the psychological foundations for today’s social media networks are the same, otherwise, it will not be a social network across the internet.

 

Reflective thinking on Reading of May 2nd, 2012

The article “Understanding New Web Era: Web 3.0, Linked Data and Semantic Web” (2009) is a well-organized article, which elaborates and interprets three trends from a serious of Greg Boutin’s posts. The writer explains each of the trends in a separate section, which is very helpful for us to follow. One of the difficulties I have when I read this article is that there are many basic concepts need clarifying. So first, I will go through some key concept the article mentioned quickly.

  1. Structured data and unstructured data

According to Duncan Pauly, when we talk about the structured data, “there are at least three orthogonal aspects to structure”:

The structure of the data itself.

The structure of the container that hosts the data.

The structure of the access method used to access the data.

These three dimensions are largely independent and one does not need to imply another. For example, it is absolutely feasible and reasonable to store unstructured data in a structured database container and access it by unstructured search mechanisms.”

The term “unstructured data” refers to information that either does not have a pre-defined data model and/or does not fit well into relational tables. Unstructured information is typically text-heavy, but may contain data such as dates, numbers, and facts as well, which leads to a difficult of processing through the traditional computers. The prevalent way of dealing with unstructured data is text analysis, and manual tagging. Examples of “unstructured data” may include books, journals, documents, metadata, health records, audio, video, files, and unstructured text such as the body of an e-mail message, Web page, or word processor document, which means, the dominant contents the web user dealing with every single day.

In this article, the writer believes that Web 3.0 will feature with open and more structured data, which “makes the web more intelligent”. (filtering content, real-time data, personalization), while Web 2.0 features with user-generated contents and social applications.

2.  Likend Data

It comes from the LOD (linked open data) project. On the homepage of this project, it is defined as:

“Linked Data is about using the Web to connect related data that wasn’t previously linked, or using the Web to lower the barriers to linking data currently linked using other methods. More specifically, Wikipedia defines Linked Data as “a term used to describe a recommended best practice for exposing, sharing, and connecting pieces of data, information, and knowledge on the Semantic Web using URIs (uniform Resources identifiers) and RDF (Resource Description Framework).”

Two pieces of suggestion are given by Greg in regards to the linked data: one, invest more; two, mash it up with the other technologies.

3. Semantic Web

The Semantic Web is a collaborative movement led by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)[1 that promotes common formats for data on the World Wide Web. By encouraging the inclusion of semantic content in web pages, the Semantic Web aims at converting the current web of unstructured documents into a “web of data”. It builds on the W3C’s Resource Description Framework (RDF). The writer believes that Google will play an important role in the semantic web because it facilitates “search options” which allows the user customize their search results.

This article was posted in 2009, so now we can take a look whether these trends are going on.

First, the information load on internet is dramatically increasing due to the structuralizing the three items Duncan commented on. We can explain it by this way: we have all kinds of information on the web, and we put the information into different spaces we create in the cyberspace, and we access this information through different approaches. If we take a look at this process in a metaphor way, we can consider the information as books of different sizes; the cyberspace can be regarded as a box in which we can put dividers; the access method can be regarded as a way with which we grab these books. So if everyone has the same standard on identifying different sizes of the books, the same standard on dividing their spaces and the same standard on finding these books, the box will contain more books than when we just stuff a whole bunch of books of different sizes into a box.

Secondly, access to the information will be much easier, which is a natural result. A typical example of this is Twitter. People use the same language to arrange, organize and access information. However, I notice a trend that since it takes time to grasp this skill of using this language, more and more social media tends to give up this semiotic way to convey information. They try to lead a new way by conveying voice. A typical example is “Wechat”, which is an app on Apple products. I use it every single day to talk to my husband. It enables a real-time, free, confidential vocal talk through the social media, which is really fascinating. It means that the distance, in terms of time and space, between each other is zero. At the same time, it opens a door for the illiterate people to connect to the cyberspace.

To draw a conclusion, in my opinion, the web 3.0 is an ear when filtered information other than flocked information is accessed; the customized cyberspace other than uniformed cyberspace is created, the diversity other than uniformity is valued.