Thursday, November 18, 2004

Flash Mobs are so much Fun

Flash mobs are one of the most fun and entertaining innovations that have come out of using mobile technology. It promotes a system of gathering that perpetuates a more organized and efficient way to have messages spread through the masses. The idea is for the organization to be effective, swift, and untraceable. Stephanie M. put it best when she wrote, “Flash mobs and smart mobs allow an empowerment of the members because they feel like they belong to an organization, and the members of flash mobs get a laugh after causing a public scene and entertaining the people who encounter one of their meetings.”

In the past I have received e-mails from friends or “promotion teams” for an event called “party train”. An e-mail in addition to text messages were sent to party kids across NYC on the same day the event was to occur, it included a time, train line, and car number, or hint to indicate where to gather. At the chime of the train doors, DJ’s and their friends flooded the train car with a few pieces of sound equipment, people of the group emerged and began to dance and for the next few stops on the line, more people filled that same car. The gathering took place on a train line that is less frequented by riders at 3 o'clock in the morning and is always located in the to second last car. The party dosen’t last very long, but is much fun. With the use of mobile technology, the public sphere, some spontaneity and the mind frame that anything can possibly happen, it sounds like a flash mob to me- and until now, I didn’t consider party train anything else other than a quick party. (There was a beer commercial which aired showing a depiction of a party train, if you remember.)

Again, at anti war protests during the summer, I recall people desperately reaching for their cell phones once crowd blockades were discovered along the route. Text messaging also seemed to play an important role in keeping protesters close together, and out of trouble.

Our generation defiantly has an advantage through the use of such technologies. How many times has your cell phone helped you out of a jam, and afterwards you wonder, if it weren’t for your phone, how would you have gotten through it. People in our parents generation would have found a way to survive a situation, rather than talking their way out of it. My mother is constantly reminding me of how much easier I have it, in the sense that I have constant communication between school, friends and family etc. Refer to Imbar’s story which involves a work relationship between herself and an older women journalist, working for the NYT. The generation gap in addition with a technology gap all leads to a miscommunication.

Wikipedia tries its best to avoid any kind of miscommunication or mis leading information, it gets updated every second, and knowledge is easily accessible. Flash mobs has been described as performance art, a cultural event, a fad, a phenomenon, or simply belonging to a crowd, read a few brief articles to form your own opinion.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Weblogs and Wikis

Whenever I am faced with new technological advancements concerning the improvement of communication, I instantly become interested in knowing: what now?. Perhaps being a communication student, has allowed me to develop some uncounicius need to know, and an ability to be aware of what's going on. But at the same time I feel like I am caught in an unending, never satisfied web of ideas and constant recreations of similar ideas. It convinces the masses that the newer system of communication is more effective thus smarter and necessary for optimum service of information transfer. As Bryann stated “...the Mob stand for mobile and this means greater communication flexibility. This also means I am becoming more lost in this world of technological advancement.”

As for the use of email, personally, I find having more than one email account is more useful. I use an account for school related issues another for personal messages, and one for promotional contest or anonymous online events. This way when my messages are delivered they are properly grouped and categorized upon arrival. Although, Michelle points out that, having too many e-mails and not being able to find a specific message among the many, is one reason why e-mails are not the best way to store and organize information. But e-mails are purposeful to have a place to keep private and personal information that is more directed only to you and for you to see. I agree with Stephanie T. when she wrote, “All in all, I will not abandon email (especially for things that are personal and you are not trying to share with the world.)

Wikkis, allow groups of people, to collaborate in bringing information to a specific site, Wikkis have become the “social software”. These digital tools increase communication thus knowledge between people throughout the organization. These tools have few limitations, it is assumed that almost anything goes, people can then post and discuss anything that is useful to those within an organizations. One thing to take into consideration is the information source. One may question the information's validity. This type of information sharing is encouraged but is only successful if the thoughts are coming from a knowledgeable source. One complaint I have heard concerning wikkis, is its ability to support easy upload of images. But overall the capability of wikki services does better the distribution of knowledge to all that have access. People within an organization always have the option to be connected and obtain answers.

Search engines also serve an important role as far as providing the information to the public, that is available through such sites as wikkis. The increased knowledge gained through wikkis, aggregators and weblogs all perpetuate interest and build thought which will eventually end up on one of the many blog sites. One wikki that has recently caught my attention specifically targets the “no war” campaign, it is titled “No War Wikki”. It gives people who are interested in alternative news sources the opportunity to get their information concerning out present day events that involve foreign countries. Overall these forums give much of the population a place to easily exchange information.

Monday, November 01, 2004

[Un]Made in the USA

Money is makes the world go round. It is the driving force that encourages things to get made and distributed, it is used as a power mechanism and it plays a big part in "comand and control". "Unamde in America: the true cost of a global assembly line" exposes much of what American- made companies do to become internationally based. The essay discusses other concerns dealing with the manufacturing buisness, but the idea of these proud to be American buisnesses not giving job opprotunites to Americans is upseting.

Economic globalization combines human innovation and the integration of economies around the world. The term sometimes also refers to the people of labor and the knowledge of technology across international borders. Globalization allows world trade and financial markets to become more integrated. The spread of knowledge (and technology) acts as an information exchange, this often is overlooked as a part of globalization. For instance, foreign investment brings not only an expansion of capital stock, but also technical innovations. More generally, it brings knowledge about production methods, management techniques and markets that are available at very low cost. This represents a highly valuable resource for the developing countries.

Imbar pointed out that the essay states the fear of the possiblity of one segement of the assembly line or chain to “grab hold of a few strands and start yanking”. Imbar then goes on to say, "basically don’t yank the chain, everything is suppose to run smooth, on time, and consistent. Michelle comments that, "if one thing goes wrong somewhere within the process, the entire production is halted, and this could happen anywhere on the globe", this is simular to the don't pull the chain idea.

Societies across the globe have progressively established closer contacts over time, but recently the pace has dramatically increased. Jet fast airplanes, cheap telephone service, email, computers, and so on, have all made the world more interdependent than ever. Multinational corporations manufacture products in many countries and sell to consumers around the world. Money, along with raw materials move swiftly across the borders. As a result, laws, economies, and social movements are all forming at an international level.

For a funny and easy way to understand the history of globalization view this comic strip. It mentions the fact that America often creates ways to make goods for American companies duty free for little expense. If all this debate over outsourcing has you feeling a bit unpatriotic, speak up! There are a few websites were one can post thoughts and even contact the companies that are highly involved in the buisness of outsourcing. Here are some U.S. companies that either send American jobs overseas, or choose to employ cheap oversea labor rather than American workers: Verizon, Toys R Us, Time Warner, Friut of the Loom, Kodak, Coca Cola, and Bank of America. Barry Lynn asked a good question, "how many of us actually twist around to check what is printed on the labels of our underwear?"

Monday, October 25, 2004

Social Network Analysis

Organization charts suggest that work and information flow in a hierarchy, but network mapping reveals they actually flow through a vast web of informal channels. Social network analysis involves the mapping and measuring of these normally invisible relationships between people, providing an organizational X-ray. What ties information, knowledge, management and social network analysis more closely together is the relationship between people and content. Nodes of a network show the relationships or flow between the workers of an organization. They work by using the concept of degrees (as in separation.) "Many nodes and links can fail but it still allows all the rest of the nodes and links to reach others through "other network paths," states Courtney. There are the many facets that make up the organizational network analysis, such as betweenness, closeness, and boundary spanners. They examine the position of an individual on the network map. Danielle thinks that "in the context of organizations a social network analysis can be vital to increasing the success of the communications relationship and productivity of an organization."

Like nodes the network centralization provides insight into the sturcture of the organization. The "senders" and "receivers" make up a traditional structure, were the lines of contact work up and down, it is difficult for messages to reach higher authority from the bottom. Whereas in a modern organization, communication is rapidly moving and changing. Technology has made it possible for the lines of talk to be more accesible by all; lack of communication is now easier to avoid.

The concepts of network analysis and socially orientated systems are far beyond the ordinary text-based chat. In fact, these concepts are critical to the creation of truly useful online communities. These innovations are lying all around us, from Google's Links to AOL's Buddy Lists to Amazon's circles of purchase.
We humans are very social animals. It's about time more of us started recognizing this in the systems we design.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Meaning is Found Where?

The meaning of a word, is only sometimes found in the actual word or within a persons own thoughts. The reason why this only works sometimes, is due to the subjectivity of both methods. A persons' thinking or understanding of a word may misinterpret the meaning; and in the American language it often happends that one word can have various meanings or definitions. A meaning of a word becomes more clear and relavant within the context of a network or source.

Nicole put it simply when she wrote "networks are what shapes the meaning behind a word instead of a word shaping a meaning and then delievering it into a network." Perhaps to understand this, we need to define what a network is. I liked Sarah's explaination that a network is an organization consisting of many different people with different experiences and background. This reflects the notion that one cannot assume, when speaking words, that the same meaning of a specific word is being referanced by everyone. When working or living in a specific network, people learn and use the language and meanings of the institution. This may also happen to an individual through ones personal biography and culture. Each different culture intails subcodes that are understood by the members of that culture. These subcodes define the meaning that relay the message.

Derrida teaches us that "binary pairs" help us draw lines around words and meanings that put them into categories. As helpful as his may sound this is also a problem. Languages are not so cut and dry as we may wish them to be. Meaning can be negotiated, but should it be? When two people communicate, they both want to be understood clearly, if any interferance can be avoided this is beneficial to both parties. Professors like Derrida, Shannon and Weaver have tried to eliminate the possiblities of miscommunication, so that people from different backgrounds or sources can effectivly communicate.
Check out Derrida the movie for a full understanding of this mans life and impact.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Shannon & Weaver Part II

Semiotics draws heavily on linguistic concepts, partly because of the influence of Saussure. Saussure referred to language (his model being speech) as 'the most important' of all systems of signs. Language is regarded closly as the most powerful communication system by far. It refers to a system of rules and conventions. Applying these notions to the semiotic system rather than simply to language, the distinctions are mostly between code and message, structure and event or system and actual usage. It can help us realize that information or meaning is not 'contained' in books, computers or audio-visual media. Meaning is not 'transmitted' to us - we actively create it according to complex codes of which we are normally unaware of. We learn from semiotics that we live in a world of signs and we have no way of understanding anything except through these signs and codes into which they are organized. Through the study of semiotics we become aware that these signs that are normally transparent are able to be read. Danielle
along with Rosalyn agree that Saussaure's semantics help us to understand the study of human communication better. Get a better understanding through visiting Suassure's theory. criticism of the classical structuralist position of Ferdinand de Saussure. Roman Jakobson was a socio-linguist who thought that Saussure's insight concerning sounds had an arbitrary relation to meaning; meaning being determined by their relations with other sounds which differed, was an overstatement. A collection of sounds can function as the vehicle for meaning, but how exactly do the sounds perform this function? There is a relation between sound and meaning within a word, and within language generally. In the end this comes down to the problem of identifying language. Like any verbal sign, there are two components. The sign has two sides: the sound, on the one hand, and meaning, on the other.

Shannon & Weaver Model

The movement of information was once seen as the transport of goods or people, them came about the desire to increase the speed and effect of messages. The theory that messages could travel through space seemed ideal. Shannon & Weaver perfected this idea with a model of human communciation. As Gage notes people needed to learn how to become more effective communicators on both the sending and receiving side.

Writing always had to be transported to the reader, so in written communication the transport of letters, books and newspapers supported the thought of the transport of meaning from writer to reader. The engineers working for Bell Telephone Labs, reduced communication to a process of 'transmitting information' it identified various parts of the process. As Imbar, I too wonder how is it possible to put a mathematical equation to the English language. The transmission model clearly fixes and separates the roles of 'sender' and 'receiver'. But communication between two people involves simultaneous 'sending' and 'receiving' (not only talking, but also body language and so on). The communication model is set up as a linear, one-way model, ascribing a secondary role to the 'receiver', who is seen as absorbing information. But communication is not a one-way street. Although, the important point here is that, meaning-making is not central in transmission models.

It is widely assumed that meaning is contained in the 'message' rather than in its interpretation. But there is no single, fixed meaning in any message. In this model, even the nature of the content almost seems irrelevant. Transmission models of communication reduce human communication to the transmission of messages, whereas, a linguists say, that there is more to communication than this. People who study language, believe in phatic communication, which is a way of maintaining relationships. Some will also argue the chain model implies a commonsense understanding of communication in general, but also for specific forms of communication such as speaking and listening, writing and reading, watching television and so on. In education, it represents a similar model of teaching and learning. It reflects the notion that meanings exist and are awaiting to be decoded by the receiver. This may sound true, but it still has a mechanical quality about it that reminds me if an instruction manual diagram, that teaches me what part goes where. In all these contexts, such a model underestimates the creativity of the act of interpretation.

However, you will find no single, widely-accepted constructivist model of communication in a form like that of Shannon and Weaver's block and arrow diagram. This is partly because those who approach communication from the constructivist perspective often attempt to produce a formal model of communication. The message here is that, it is up to ones interpretation whether Shannon and Weaver's model has a much wider application to human communication than a purely technical one.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The Nature of Communications in Organizations

The Nature of Communication in Organizations illustrates the myths and misconceptions of commmunication, they laid out and explained this through examples in a work place. Although many of the myths overlaped in their definitions. Myth #2 discuses non-verbal communication as does myth #7 which explains silence as a communicator. Myth #1: meaning are in words, described the theory that meaning is found in people, not in words. Though we as comunication students should not forget that words and their meanings can be understood in different ways within the context of a dialoge. The content of a dialoge also determines the meanings of certain words,this can alter the understanding between two people.

As we all know communication contains the processes of verbal and nonverbal cues. This also incluldes the factor of gestures and their importance. A key statement which I found useful in effective communication, said that being sensitive to others veiws is key in communications skills. Myth #8: comunication is a natural ability, states that comunication is a learned ability. The author justifies the learning experience happends when a individual is educated and undergoes experiences. But how can we assume that everyone has access and the means to get educated and have experieces that will shape their communicatons skills. I do believe comunication is learned, but it is not a natural ability that we all do easily.

The components of communication which include a source, channel, reciever, message and noise within that model all work together to explain how a message is sent and received. This model is timeless in the effect that messages will always be sent and received in a simular form, from time to time. Establishing an understanding for how people correspond with one and another is knowledge that will always be put to use.