Monday, November 24, 2008

what a small world!

The reading for November 24 was from a book written by Clay Shirky titled, Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations. The reading discusses the concept of six degrees of separation. This concept says that almost everyone has a connection in some way to people that they do not know personally. Though they do not know each other chances are that they have friends or acquaintances in common. One factor of this is homophily, which is the grouping of like with like. This increases the likely hood of running into someone that you know because it acknowledges the fact that people friend people that share commonalities. Like living on the same block, working together, having similar interests, etc. This increases the likelihood that when you meet someone the two of you have a friend in common.

Shirkey says that large groups are impractical and unbuildable. The best networks are those of many small tight groups that have a couple people from each group connected to a few people from other groups. This gives you the advantages of both the large and small scale.

In the reading Shirkey gives a good example of six degrees of separation through a personal experience of his. He was going to a bar and wanted to let his friends know what he was up to. He sent a message through Dodgeball, a personal network service, to his friends. In a matter of minutes he got a message back telling him that a friend of a friend was at the same bar. This allowed him to introduce himself and indentify how he knew this gentleman.

I feel that everyone is familiar with the small world pattern, even if they do not know the specific terms involved with it. Everybody has used the phase, “What a small world!” One instance where this happened to me was when I was catching up with a friend who I had not seen in a while. I was giving him a description of a girl who I had been seeing and he not only knew her; he also dated her as well. The reason that this was particularly interesting to me is that the girl lived an hour away. I could not believe we both knew and dated the same girl who lived so far away. If that is not the epitome of a small word story I do not know what is.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dear diary.. I can believe I wrote that on LiveJournal

For today’s post I read the article”Shout into the wind and it shouts back,” by Lori Kendall. The article deals with the tensions that participants of LiveJournals face. The first tension that is identified is that of the private journal and the public sphere. The problem here is that people generally write journals for themselves or close family and friends. The intended audience contradicts the public nature of posting diaries online. People are withdrawn from talking as freely as they would if they were just writing in a diary that no one else would see. They have to be aware that more people than they might want might see the post.

The next tension that is identified is efficiency vs. audience management. The article explains that LiveJournals are a great way to keep many people updated on recent events in your lives. The problem is that you cannot control who sees what you wrote. So it could be very advantageous in some aspects in others in could represent an invasion of privacy.

The next tension is that between control vs. connection. Control relates to the autonomy that people have to do and say whatever they want. Many people like this as an outlet for expression. But for those that use it to converse with people find that LiveJournals leave something to be desired in that area.

The last tension discussed is autonomy vs. the desire for comments. Autonomy refers to the participant’s awareness of an audience and this limits what people may disclose about themselves and the scope of the discussion that they may engage in. Autonomy is in direct conflict with some people’s desire for comments. The less people feel they have control over their posts and the less they feel that talking about something is appropriate the less they are likely to comment on other people’s journals.

I have never understood why people keep diaries. I have been lead to believe that a diary is something where people write things that they do not want anyone else to see. With that being said, I think that posting your diary online, in the public’s eye, then bitching about the wrong people seeing it is ludicrous. Of course the wrong people are going to see it eventually. And of course you should be wary of what you write in them…. People are going to see it.


Kendall, Lori. (2007). “shout into the wind, and it shouts back.” Identity and interactional tensions on LiveJournal. First Monday, 12. Retrieved on August 21, 2008 from
http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue12_9/kendall/index.html

The Blogging Glass

Recently I have been observing and participating in a political blog. The site that I found the blog on is a political forum and only deals with political issues. The issue that the blog that I participated in covered was whether or not Barack Obama’s campaign was protected in the media. The people that participate in this forum are people that have an interest in politics. I do not feel that everyone that participates on the blog are equally savvy in politics. That is, however, the strength of blogs, anyone with an opinion can participate, albeit right or wrong.

In the book Blogging America, Aaron Barlow introduces the concept of the blogging glass. The blogging glass is a concept that explains that when people participate in blogs, they interact with people who are mirrors of themselves. This means that they seek blogs that confirm their values and beliefs. This essay is going to apply this theme from Aaron Barlow’s book to the blog that I observed and discuss whether or not the blogging glass occurred in this blog.

The first thing that I had noticed was that the democratic members of the blog repeatedly made the same argument about how Obama ran a clean campaign and that is why he was not scrutinized in the media as much as McCain. While the republican members of the blog repeatedly made the same argument that Obama is a communist Muslim who keeps bad company, was not born a citizen of the United States, and has no right to be America’s next president. All the posts closely mirror each other. No member so far has seemed to care about discussing the issues; they simply want to be heard and in no way seem opened minded in hearing the other side’s argument. I think that this is a great example of McLuhan’s blogging glass. Although it is obvious that there are opposing sides in this blog, no one has come to be swayed by a persuasive discussion. They all just want to heard and have their values and beliefs confirmed by others who share those same values and beliefs.



I had also noticed that a lot of members of this blog simply copy and paste the same exact passage that they wrote before again and again. I believe that this is yet another attempt to confirm their feelings and beliefs on the election with other people with similar feelings and beliefs. Konasurfer is very passionate about Obama not being elected president and brings up a few good arguments in his post why he should not be. However he repeats the same post numerous times throughout the 241 post blog. I feel that he does this because he wants to hear his own voice and variations of it through other people. This is narcissistic on his behave and confirms the concept of the blogging glass.



Burke says, One of the greatest weaknesses of blogs is that in a nearly infinite universe it is easy for one to turn away without regret from any one thing; in an “on demand” universe, there is little incentive to turn to something one does not already know one will like. This ties back into the concept of the blogging glass, for people choose blogs to confirm their beliefs and values. They know that if they interact with people who feel similar on a subject that they will like participating in the blog. No one in this blog is attempting to weigh out the arguments and make a decision on those arguments. They have simply conjugated here to spew their beliefs. I can honestly say there is no discussion going on in this blog. I feel that the members of this blog believe they are broadening conversation on the topic, but they are not. They believe that something noteworthy is being said based on the volume of everyone else saying the same thing. Which is not a conversation at all; it is just everyone mirroring everyone that has similar beliefs.


One thing that I could not believe did not spur conversation was the allegation that Obama is a communist. Hetta5750 wrote a very good post dealing with the fact that Obama was raised communist, mentored by a communist, Frank Marshall Davis, groomed by communists to run for president, was a member of the Chicago “new party” which was a splint of the communist party, and never hid it until he ran for senator. If anything I would have thought that this would have warranted being refuted by an Obama supporter. As it turned out no one even acknowledged the post and everyone went on saying what ever it was that they had been saying all along. This, again, ties back into the concept of the blogging glass. Members of this blog only want there to hear their voices or variations of it through other people. No one cared enough about what was being said as long as they got to say what they wanted to say.

All of the posts that I contributed to the blog went uncommented on except for one. The comment was not even really a comment. The post of mine that got commented on simply discussed the similarities between Hitler and Obama. CanuckGirl copy and pasted my post into her own and then copied and pasted a post that she had been intermittently distributing throughout the blog. It was rather irritating because her “response” to my post really had nothing to do with what I wrote. Further proving my point that people of this blog are simply here to hear their own voices.


As it turned out, I posted the last few posts on the blog before it went dead. This could have been anticipated because the blog I was participating on was a political blog dealing in large with the election. So you have to assume that participation was going to die down after the election. Another reason for the attendance of this blog dying down could be that people simply got tire of beating a dead horse.


The blog that I observed was very redundant. Every person pretty much just said variations of what other people were saying, without any attempt of trying to sway opponents of their views opinions. That is what I feel the definition of the blogging glass is, bloggers looking to have their values and beliefs confirmed by people that are similar to themselves.

Reference:
Barlow, A. (2008). Blogging America. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Politico

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

fifth and last journal

Still people keep reiterating the fact that Obama ran a clean campaign that is why he did not get as much focus in the media as McCain did. This passage is killing me because and it is not even like people are trying to say the same thing in a different way with a different argument, they are just saying the same thing. Aughhh…


One thing that I can not believe did not spur conversation was the allegation that Obama is pro communism. Hetta5750 wrote a very good post dealing with the fact that Obama was raised communist, mentored by a communist, Frank Marshall, groom by communists to run for president, was a member of the Chicago “new party” which was a splint of the communist party and never hid it until he ran for senator. If anything I would have thought that this would have warranted looking into or at least trying to refute by Obama’s supporters. As it turned out no one even acknowledged the post and everyone went on saying what ever it was that they had been saying all along. This, again, ties back into the concept of the blogging glass. Members of this blog only went there to hear their voices or variations of it through other people.

So finally someone acknowledged one of my posts, although not in a manner that would warrant conversation. I simply discussed the similarities between Hitler and Obama. CanuckGirl copy and pasted my post into hear own and then copied and pasted a post that she had been intermittently distributing throughout the blog. It was rather irritating because her “response” to my post really had nothing to do with what I wrote. So that further proves my point that people of this blog are simply here to hear their own voices.


As it turned out I posted the last few posts on the blog before it went dead. This could have been anticipated because I was participating in a political blog dealing with the election. So you have to assume that participation was going to die down after the election. The republican members have no reason to continue to complain about Obama’s campaign being protected by the media because McCain lost the election. While the democratic members have no need to protect Obama’s campaign anymore because Obama won the election. There could also be another reason for the attendance of this blog dying down. People simply got tire of beating a dead horse.

four down, one to go

Burke says, One of the greatest weaknesses of blogs is that in a nearly infinite universe it is easy for one to turn away without regret from any one thing; in an “on demand” universe, there is little incentive to turn to something one does not already know one will like. This ties back into the concept of the blogging glass for people choose blogs to confirm their beliefs and values. Now no one in this blog is attempting to weigh out the arguments and make a decision on those arguments. They have simply conjugated here to spew their beliefs. I can honestly say there is no discussion going on in this blog. I feel that the members of this blog believe they are broadening conversation on the topic, but are not. They believe that something significant is being said based on the volume of everyone else saying the same thing. Which is not a conversation at all; it is just everyone mirroring everyone that has similar beliefs.

three done, two to go

Scottwww is the first person that I saw that replied to another members post. It was in regards to McCain’s spiritual advisor. In the post that Scottwww is responding to the issue of McCain attending John Hagee’s church. As it turns out that guy is a nut case as well. Scottwww replied that he has not been a member of that church a fraction of how long Obama has attend trinity church with reverend Wright. Either way no one was giving an inch on the fact that one was alright or that both of them could have their own religious views and that would not affect how the candidate would run the country. Kenneth Burk wrote that, “Communication cannot be satisfactory unless the matter discussed bears in some notable respect upon the interests of the auditor.” Meaning that unless it is something that is of interest to the recipient the passage will not have the ability to capture the attention of and convert the auditor of the message. My posts fail at this as well. For my opinions on the candidates are already set in stone. So the passages that I wrote in this blog have gone largely unnoticed in part because they were not written well enough to be deemed worthy of further discussion. They were also not noticed because the way that I wrote the passages gave the impression that I am going to believe what I already believe and there is nothing that anyone can say that will change my mind

two down, three to go

I have noticed that a lot of members of this blog are simply copying and pasting the same exact passage that they wrote before again and again. I believe that this is yet another attempt to confirm their feelings and beliefs on the election with other people with similar feelings and beliefs. Konasurfer is very passionate about not having Obama elected as president and brings up a few good arguments in his post why he should not be. However he repeats the same post numerous times throughout the 241 post blog. The first time he posted the passage it was the sixth post and only two posts later did he post the same passage again. His passage was well received by people with similar beliefs, those who were already converted. I feel that he was not able to formulate his argument in away that would engage people that believed differently than he did and this is where he failed. Another theme that is getting rather redundant is republican members of the blog continually posting on how Barack did not get hammered in the media as hard as McCain did because Obama ran a cleaner campaign. I get it, and I think that everyone else does as well. Bring up a new argument already.

one down, four to go

For the last couple of days I have been observing a political blog that is concerned with discussing how and if Barack Obama’s campaign was protected by the media. I have noticed that the members of the blog have just continued to focus on the same few topics. All the posts closely mirror each other as well. The democratic members of the blog repeatedly talk about how McCain’s campaign primary focused on negative ads and that is why they came under public scrutiny. While the republican members of the blog continue to bring up the topic of Obama’s birth and the company he keeps. No member so far has seemed to care about discussing the issues, they simply want to be heard and in no way seem opened minded in hearing the other sides argument. I think that this is a great example of McLuhan’s blogging glass. The blogging glass is a concept that explains that when people go to blogs they see a mirror of themselves. This means that they seek blogs that confirm their values beliefs. Although it is obvious that there are opposing sides in this blog, no has come to be swayed by persuasive discussion.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Blogs and the Press

The reading for November 5 titled, “The Blogs, Political Issues, and the Press,” talks about how blogs are an essentially horizontal structure. Vertical structures run top down and decisions are made at the top. It is a hierarchal structure. That is not the case for blogs. Blogs offer so many channels that to help people circumvent authority. For instance if an editor or someone posts something that you do not like you can say whatever you want back to him or start a whole other blog that addresses your concerns. As it turned out this was a perfect outlet for liberals in response to conservative talk radio in the eighties and nineties.

The reading then goes on to talk about how blogs closely resemble the freedom of the press. Like the press anyone can enter into a blog and discuss whatever it is they want without first proving themselves. Then when you add journalism to the web it opens it up for much reader participation. This is due to how easy revisions can be made to information on the web.


The web also fills the gaps that the media leave. No matter how thorough the media is, it is still impossible for them to cover all the news. Blogging is a resource that helps the journalist enthusiasts report news to the public and contributes to existing stories.

I wish that the journalist enthusiasts had more resources to cover stories more thoroughly and with more credibility. There were people out there that tried like hell to get information on Obama, they blogged about him and reported stories that the liberal press would not touch. Yet bloggers obviously could not reach the masses. I feel that professional journalists did not due there civic duty for this 2008 presidential election. That is why I propose that they do away with the national news media. They have not done any hard journalism since Upton Sinclair broke the story on the unsanitary meat packing industry back in the early twentieth century. They are useless and journalism should be in the hands of amateurs who just want to get all the information out there.