Archive for August, 2007

OII SDP recap – Cool widgets

It was almost three weeks ago when I dragged myself, reluctantly, out of the awesome Austin Hall at Harvard for an all-too-early flight. But I still feel somewhat immersed in the information-intensive OII SDP boot camp. Though I have read a lot of SDP friends’ own final reports of OII SDP on their blogs, I still feel the urge to dig into my tons of notes and write a series of stuff about the very interesting and inspiring two weeks I had at Berkman Center. Starting from today I will try to put on a section every day.

Let me start with the widgets I used or was introduced to during the two weeks. As a new media scholar I have to consciously keep track of the never ending development of new gadgets, a task that sometimes gets a bit overwhelming. Since OII is about Internet I am not surprised how tech-savvy our faculty and fellow participants were. The following is a list of the widgets that impressed me the most (Ismael published a similar list here):

  • Wiki: it is the site for a two week peer intellectual production. we are on the wiki 24/7 during the two weeks. No exaggeration.
  • Mindmapping applications: some speakers used them to illustrate sophisticated relations between nodes (if you think our brain works as a network…). Freemind seems to be the most popular and I am going to try it myself.
  • The Live Question Tool: used to publish questions while listening to the speaker. But I found it a bit distracting.
  • H2O Playlists, to broadcast a master list of refernces mentioned during the two weeks.
  • OII/Berkman 2007 Summer Doctoral Programme planet aggregator: get all the buzz in one click.
  • Dopplr: a site for traveling friends to keep in touch. A good way for the new generation of academic-wanderers.
  • Couchsurfing: a site for traveles to make connections and stay on each other’s couch. (Great for students without enough conference budget)
  • Facebook: I was not using it actively till SDP. This is the way to be in the loop.

August 21, 2007 at 1:03 am 2 comments

Are you in the same network?

A recent article in NY Times caught my eye: Mobile phone networks are changing people’s social relations by their “talk-free-in-the-same-network” gimmick. When people switch network, they have to take their friends’ network into consideration and they may well lose their friends if they switch to the wrong one.

This is a perfect example of technology interfering human relations. Or more specifically, the physical (phone) network influences the social network. This sounds very much like McLuhan’s technological determinism, but the truth is, any technology has certain affordances and constraints. Harold Innis call this “the bias of communications”. Larry Lessig says “code is law”. And I say that human behavior is conditioned by technological parameters.

Now the smart mobs are clustered within certain sub-networks. Being in different networks make people more distant. Several interesting observations can be made:

  1. the law of homophily would predict the same thing, but its explanatory power seems to be limited. We are in the same network….what does that say about us being alike? I’d say not that much!
  2. friends become more distant when they switch to different networks…but do acquitances become closer when they switch to the same network? This is still an open question.
  3. From a technology adoption perspective, this illustrates the network effect of adoption. People think about their friends before deciding which network to join and the more your friends are with network A, the more like you will choose – and get stuck with network A. If I am one of the marketing people of those networks, I’d add some new customer referral bonu, too.

August 9, 2007 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment

Time flies

August 2007
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