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Online Organizing: Social Network Study of Race and Use Clusters of Myspace or Facebook based on Incoming Class at Northwestern

Kudos danah boyd

We get asked questions about social network sites and use all the time. This is a great peak not just at the social network services sector overall but this article looks at some key infomation about the different groups each online social network attracts and a good discussion around the issues on why that may be occurring.

Link: Whose Space? Differences Among Users and Non-Users of Social Network Sites.

his study has considered how people's demographic characteristics and the social surroundings of their uses might relate to the particular social network sites they embrace. When SNS usage statistics are considered in the aggregate, the results only show a relationship of gender to SNS use, in addition to the importance of context of use and experience with the medium. However, when specific site usage is considered, statistically significant relationships emerge between race and ethnicity and SNS uses, in addition to the predictive power of parental education.

In particular, Hispanic students are significantly more likely to use MySpace than are Whites in the sample, while Asian and Asian American students are significantly less likely to use MySpace. Additionally, the latter group is much more likely to use Xanga and Friendster than are Whites, a practice that may be due to these services' popularity in the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia (boyd & Ellison, this issue), where—given the immigrant nature of the sample—many students may have extended family and friends from earlier parts of their lives.

Regarding parental education, students whose parents have lower levels of schooling are more likely to be MySpace users, whereas students whose parents have higher levels of education are more likely to be Facebook users. These associations are not evident when aggregating all social network site usage, probably because the various relationships cancel each other out.

The goal of this article was to compare SNS users and non-users; the findings suggest some systematic differences in who chooses to spend time on such sites and who does not. Importantly, the findings also suggest that different populations select into the use of different services, posing a challenge to research that tends to collapse use of all social network sites. Most studies that look at SNS uses focus on one service only. The findings presented in this article suggest caution when generalizing findings from the use of one site to the use of other related services. A significant finding of the study is that aggregated SNS use statistics hide important differences concerning usage preferences within a diverse sample of users by specific site. Simply looking at, for example, whether race and ethnicity are related to SNS use suggests that there are no differences across groups. However, once specific site usage is disaggregated in the analyses, significant divergences emerge. Insofar as use of Facebook is qualitatively different from the use of MySpace, and these uses in turn are different from the uses of Xanga and Friendster, recognizing and critically considering these differences is important for SNS use research, regardless of the methods of analysis used.

Sway opinion within an industry: Blog

This seems like a really interesting result of sitting on an industry and cranking out solid content over time. I like that it has the "gossip" and moves of the insiders.

The interesting but not surprising result is that when all hell breaks loose become "the media" in that space. I am not sure what the return on investment is but given that the blogger has been at since 2006 you have to figure that at most it might have cost 200-400K in technology,staff overhead and promotion to get into position to influence the debate in a strike that costs $21million a day.

Any place that you have a disruption every 3-5 years and the disruptions costs millions per day are probably great spaces to fund and subsidize a blog to dominate the space. The ROI is just to good to ignore.

Link: Industry blog making an impact on WGA strike | Planting Liberally.

The NYT reports today that Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily blog is having a huge impact on the WGA strike. This reminds me of a post I wrote back in April, arguing that progressives should create a network of industry blogs in order to sway "public opinion" within a given industry. At the time, I wrote that such blogs could help sway industry insiders on internal debates which have political overtones, like the open source vs. proprietary debate within the computer software industry. I also wrote about the need to start progressive workplace blogs, and even suggested that unions could start a fleet of such blogs as a way to identify workplaces where they might find a lot of support. (I since incorporated that idea into a series on using the internet to strengthen labor unions.)

Well, the upshot is that these posts turned out to be descriptive rather than prescriptive. Industry insiders and workers are already creating industry and workplace blogs, and those blogs are already having an impact on labor disputes and internal industry debates. Welcome to 2003. Now, it's time for the progressive movement and labor movement to wise up to these online developments and begin harnessing them for progressive cultural change within the workforce.

Draft: The story of my inbox for the last month….Not for release

I have been looking over the story of my inbox. I am not talking about each email, each word, each chapter but the novel as a whole. What does my inbox say about the movement?

My inbox is 894 emails. It spans a month or two. Most of the messages likely need to be filed, stored, deleted. A few really valuable ones teach me something new, require I act or connect me with a project or fundraising opportunity. The very best connect me with friends and family, the best emails inspire me to do something different. However, in aggregate most of these emails are useless but I will scan them all to find the ones that matter most.

In many ways, my inbox and yours tell the story of dysfunctional movement. We have an over abundance of stale and highly edited emails telling us what someone wants us to hear. We have all the success stories but none of the failures. We have the edited and clean public versions of the campaigns going to nowhere. We have the stale data of yesterday with actionless briefings and stories unrelated to our capacity, context or campaign. We have little movement of key information and data across the movement. The best peer-to-peer information is mostly in listserves. They continue to be the backbone of coordination.

The gems in my inbox are personal . The professional gold in the inbox are the proposals from others, the draft documents that I can influence, the editable content, the leaked versions of stuff passed among friends. Some of the best stuff says “do not forward” and is forwarded to me cause I am not on the lists.

My inbox is not uncommon. It is the story of the movement and it needs to change.

Inbox Insights…

Why do I subscribe to so many emails and listservers? To find trends, to be able to see what is going on to find the opportunities and threats to my issue and my organization. This is the most inefficient way any of us can do the work of organizing . It is terrible for trend spotting but lacking an alternative all of us will continue to stay hooked and looking at inbox for a perspective that never emerges.

What I see at the inbox level …

I see names of people and groups. I see subject lines and threads of conversations related to each other. I can scan the list evaluating what to open by relying on reputation, skills of the writer, big ticket needs, interests and actions. I can make out some groups working on climate change that should be working together, I can at a glance scan of my inbox dates, subjects, senders to see an aggregation of activity knowledge, traffic and movement.

What I can not see at the inbox level…

Without opening the email I am missing lots of details. I miss the nuance of the asks, the fine grain language of goals, the richer stories and access to supporting documents. I can’t get what is really going on and can’t tell if the people that I think are talking about the same thing actually are. Are they really replying to the same message or are they just using the same email message subject lines?

My inbox and the movement

The flow of information in my inbox is mostly useless. Like my inbox the movement lives on a fire hose of communication that is unengaging , not actionable and of little use. Like the data that we see in the reports and exchanges from official channels our communication is broken as a network:

1. Most information going up to donors, public and the media is cleaned and missing the lessons learned from failures.

2. Most information coming “down” from donors and the media on the stories of the movement and activities is old and unactionable.

3. The volume of communications makes the best of the information that is public hard to find.

4. The best and actionable workable data is peer to peer, guarded and hidden.

I would imagine that there is nothing new in this analysis. I assume that in the 80’s some foundations funded a big study to prove that information analysis is a problem for the movement. The foundations were flying blind and not doing enough measuring and evaluating so they could make their choices. The philanthropy evaluation wave of the 90’s reinforced the reporting work and compounded the volume of reports being edited and thrown around without the guts of lessons learned form failure, without drafts and opportunities for groups to change behavior. The great and valuable information was pushed underground into informal channels “do not forward”.

Shifting to Traffic Control

When I think about information sharing and actionable information. I like to think of traffic reports. My inbox is a traffic jam. The flow of information across the movement like the cars moving through LA. Our campaigns , staff and issues stuck in bottlenecks for attention unable to connect with right people.
Traffic management is not about asking each driver what they are doing, why they need to go into high traffic areas as well as a some central command dictating who should avoid what and moving them all along. Traffic management is about revealing the information about traffic to the individual drivers so they can adopt and optimize the way they travel. Traffic managers look at trends over large areas and manipulate intersections and green light pathways or red light a sections of the grid. They don’t control the cars but merely in the control intersections and pathways on the network. They build roads or lanes. In such a complex system of moving parts with such a complexity of outcomes it is the only way to manage the system.


We need the opposite of the data and information system we have now. The next evolution of our movement is going to take place when leaders hand in the command model and move more into a traffic management roll. When our campaigners have the traffic maps and data to self-organize we will see more campaigns get where they want to go.

Oil Spill: Networked Volunteers and Failing to plan for the connected age.

Here is a great riff on the failure of the state planners to be prepared for mass network of volunteers. It is the same situation we are going to see play out again and again in disasters, pandemics and campaigns.

Our strategists have failed to think of the ways distributed volunteers connected can help. They only get one shot at the thousands of people interested in acting.

We often ask in the presentation what would you do with 10,000 people of 10 minutes each? Well here was another one of those the moments. I can not see why any state, governor and federal agency does not have a flexible adaptable mass volunteering management program.

The process would use an adaptable template (to be finely tuned by volunteers in the first hours of a crisis) that would establish communication lines, ad hoc work teams, tasks to be completed, quality control on tasks and feedback and shared traffic analysis in an open system so that volunteers and outsiders can contribute and review overall progress. Team would be screened by volunteers, quality control and debriefing on finished tasks would be done by volunteers. Volunteers would be able to queue up work, help prioritize a queue and check out tasks. Volunteers would be assigned to verify tasks progress and completion. Volunteers would be associated with their own performance. In such a system, redundancy of volunteer effort assures quality ...not screening and checking of infomation by a central staff as a screen on the way in... design a volunteer system that scales and can't become "overloaded" with interest. It will only work in these types of instances but it is the best way to leverage the education, skills, and distributed work power of our culture.
There is only one way to design networked volunteerism and that is a way that grows stronger with each new volunteer.

You think a state fisheries officer ever organized 1500 people to do anything in a day? No. However, the RNC and DNC operatives do that every weekend. Door knocking in Iowa of organizing the field clean up actually have lots of the same logistics. It is rediculous that after 9/11, Katrina, wildfires we are not working more diligently to establish mass volunteer coordination systems.

If you open up the conversation the state agency gets over whelmed....we then ask the network of volunteers to filter incoming emails.

Link: Green Wombat: San Francisco oil spill is a tech disaster.

The masses may be wired but California authorities' disaster response was strictly 1.0, as Green Wombat discovered when he showed up at a meeting on Saturday called by the state Department of Fish and Game to brief would-be volunteers about the oil spill from the Cosco Busan. The container ship hit the Bay Bridge last Wednesday, dumping 58,000 gallons of heavy oil into the water. A couple hundred people crammed a room at the Richmond Marina in the East Bay, spilling outside into the drizzling rain. As the crowd peppered officials with questions about how they could get to work -- a few yards away a dull oily sheen streaked the harbor -- DFG representatives patiently explained that volunteers must first receive training before they can be allowed to handle wildlife or clean beaches covered in a hazardous substance.

"We have to get information from you to place you," said a representative from the DFG's Office of Spill Prevention and Response as paper forms were handed out for volunteers to fill in. They soon ran out of forms -- more than 500 people had shown up at another volunteer meeting held a few hours earlier in San Francisco. Many members of the audience, BlackBerries and Treos in hand, stared in disbelief. Paper?


Twitter in the Wildfires

Networked culture and Public Television in a disaster. This is really good and the kind of thinking more public stations should be thinking about in any context where mainstream media is there to hype the situation by the public need to communicate to each other.

Link: News from the Future of Public Media -- Center for Social Media at American University.

Blogger John Bracken writes about how the area’s public radio affiliate, San Diego State University-based KPBS, turned to Twitter (a free, text-based service using instant message and email updates to rapidly send breaking news to subscribers which, in this instance, numbered over 650 people) and other digital media tools to update the San Diego community after they were forced off the air because of the fires. The radio station revamped its own website, providing interactive maps and other multi-media tools, along with updated audio commentary from reporters and other community members in the field. This not only kept the community updated on developments related to the fires, but also served as an efficient way to direct volunteers to areas needing help and supplies.

The San Diego Union-Tribune’s SignOnSan Diego was another key online player during the fires, using blogs , online forums, and an online photo archive , as well as a people-finder feature to share news within the community while more traditional media outlets like radio, television and print news were impaired by the fires and the resulting road closures.

As tragic as the San Diego fires have been, it is encouraging to observe how quickly online tools pulled the San Diego community together in a time of chaos. Within a matter of hours, it became clear that the reach of Web 2.0 goes beyond Facebook or MySpace. Digital technologies will only increase in their effectiveness as online tools continue to evolve and communities learn more about how to harness these platforms to make truly public media.

Empires built on the suffering of the Poor: Studies Spotlight the Moral Dilemma of Climate Change Debate

I am not sure at what point the injustice of climate change starts to haunt good people of conscience but it has to be close. Climate change exposes the poor to greater and greater risk and disaster.

They received little of the benefit of the industrial and automotive revolution but they will suffer its side effects. This risk map shows why climate crisis is the problem is really more of a moral imperative to act better than lots of reports and facts. The transfer of resources in exchange for sending risks is the cursed trade of the 21st century. We are breeding a new system to transfer the suffering, the death, pain and displacement on to distant and poor people to maintain a lifestyle of indulgence. Sugar, silk, opium and cotton have been replaced by greenhouse gas.


Link: The (Warming) World Is Not Flat - Dot Earth - Climate Change and Sustainability - New York Times Blog.

“The Climate Divide,” a set of stories in The Times earlier this year, revealed how money and technology shield advanced nations from climate-related hazards like drought and flooding, while many countries most in harm’s way are also among the world’s poorest, and thus most at risk.

Now a new analysis has looked in more detail at health risks that could be amplified in a warming world and finds the same profound disconnect. Countries responsible for the most greenhouse-gas emissions are also the least vulnerable to diseases, heat-related ailments or nutrition problems associated with changing climate conditions.

If the poorest and most abused peoples had a network would anyone watch?

Poverty is a condition of isolation. The networks have ignored the plight of the disconnected and the tragic stories of the world for as long as their has been mass media and major networks. Now The Hub is a network broadcast of the stories to the world. It is no longer big media ignoring the problem. Now it is you... will we watch? Will we act?

Link: About the Hub | The Hub.

Welcome to the Hub - a global platform for human rights media and action, including video, audio and photos related to violations of human rights of all kinds, whether they be political, civil, social, economic or cultural rights.

The Hub is a grassroots-driven, participatory media website that enables anyone anywhere in the world with access to the internet to upload, share, discuss and take action around human rights-related media and resources. Through the Hub, organizations, networks and groups around the world are able to bring their human rights stories and campaigns to global attention.

The Hub has three main areas: See It – where you can view and interact with human rights media uploaded by the Hub community; Share It – where you can create and join groups or discussions that coincide with your interests or expertise; and Take Action – where you can get involved to make a difference, and activate other users around your campaigns and events.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words | Sunlight Foundation

Open Earmarks ...Google Where on Earth is my money getting earmarked ....

Link: A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words | Sunlight Foundation.

Defense Appropriations Earmarks and made them available for viewing within Google Earth. (You can only view this using Google Earth which you can download from this page.)

And as they say: a picture really is worth a 1,000 words. One of our policy wonks loved the flight simulator that allows you to fly over earmark locations. It allows you to fly your choice of two aircraft anywhere around the globe, with custom layers visible from the aircraft. The simulator is hidden within the latest version of the program, and takes some getting used to controlling, but is certainly an entertaining way to experience the Earth's actual geography-and to educate yourself politically at the same time.