Thinking about Social Capital

One idea that I’ve been focusing a lot on these days is Social Capital. It is one of those popular phrases that doesn’t get explored enough. Blogs and online social networks are a way of building social capital, and people wonder how to transform some of that social capital into economic capital; not an easy task.

In Bowling Alone, by Robert Putnam, he provides a little more insight into social capital. He divides it into bonding social capital and bridging social capital. Bonding social capital is what ties a community together. Members of a community share a common bond, they talk about it and it empowers them. Bridging social capital is how people reach out to other communities and connect them.

People often criticize the blogosphere as being high in bonding social capital and low in bridging social capital. The lefties bond with the lefties and the same thing happens on the right. I’ve always thought of it in terms of the second degree of friends in an online social network. A person focused on bridging social capital may have lots of friends, and one on bonding social capital may have a smaller number, but even if they have the same number, it becomes more apparent when you go to friends of friends. With bonding social capital, they are all friends of one another and the number of friends of friends isn’t substantially different from the number of friends. However, for bridging social capital the difference can be great.

However, this is based on an incomplete view of social networks. Two of the key components of a network are the nodes; people in the case of social networks, and links; relationships in the case of social networks. A third component of any network is the traffic over the network; the communications between people in a social network.

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Ned Lamont for U.S. Senate Introduction Video

Today, the Lamont campaign launches its 'Intro to Ned' video. You can see it here.

They are having a viewing up in Hartford, and on blogs around the country.

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Cool things: Listeroids

Over at Greater Democracy, Jock has a blog post about Biofuels. On the mailing list, the discussion has drifted over to Listeroids. Listeroids are diesel engines based on designs from the Lister company. They are cool running slow speed engines that can burn waste vegetable oil and be used as efficient inexpensive generators.

As I read more about them, I found Kevin Kelly's website. Kevin is doing all kinds of interesting stuff, and you should read his narrative to find out about projects like The All Species Foundation, the The Long Now Foundation and The Rosetta Project.

His Cool Tools section is, well, cool. Maybe I should make a yurt. Likewise, his True Films section provides a lot of pointers to interesting films worth viewing.

Shooting our own Dream Dozen

Back in February, as I contemplated the final episode of The West Wing, I wrote this post about a possible replacement series.

Aaron Sorkin hasn’t given me a call so I guess if this is going to happen, we need to do it ourselves. That doesn’t really bother me. I wasn’t really expecting a call anyway. However, the idea has taken off in different directions.

The Ned Lamont campaign has taken off with videos. The Ned Lamont group on YouTube has really taken off, with lots of great videos of Ned. There are videos of his stump speech, videos of people interviewing voters on the issues, attack ads aimed at his opponent and plenty more.

As I’ve talked with others about this, and a Citizen Filmmaking Workshop and Festival has grown out of the discussions.

So, go back and re-read my ”Dream Dozen” post. Then, grab your video camera and head off and tape some good footage of your favorite candidate. Let’s spread the videos online, create a little buzz about new candidates and roll our own Dream Dozen show.

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Friday Five

Cinco de Mayo brings a special meaning to Friday Five. I’m not sure if this will really end up being five unrelated topics or not, but it will have a bunch of different tidbits, much of it follow up to various things I’ve written about recently.

I just got an email from the Media Bloggers Association giving me an update on the Maine Web Report case. It is great to see bloggers across the politics spectrum work together to defend free speech.

Peter Turner, whom I met at the New Organizing Institute training in DC back in February sent me an email about The Katrina Project. They are trying to keep the Gulf Coast tragedy fully in the public eye and promote a serious national conversation about poverty and inequality through helping rebuild the New Orleans Public Library. A very cool project. Please, check out their site and contribute a book or two.

The schedule for Personal Democracy Forum 2006 is up. I will be on a panel, The Rising Power of Local Political Blogs. Two of the other people on the panel are Liza Sabater, whom I’ve met at various events around CivicSpace, last year’s Personal Democracy Forum, and probably other events, and Juan Melli, whom I’ve met online several places. It should be a good conference.

I’m also gearing up for the Media Giraffe conference. With that, I’m spending a bit of time looking at various video sharing sites. A few quick comments on this: Apparently blip.tv has cleaned up its interface and is easier to use now. For example, you no longer need to create a separate thumbnail. DailyMotion and ClipShack allow loading videos from cellphones. Kim’s cellphone records videos, so I’ll give that a try. Unfortunately, neither of them have a nice feed into other blogs, although DailyMotion does include RSS feeds and group abilities. Grouper has moved out of the ‘Coming Soon’ category, and I should probably explore that a little.

Also, Kim uploaded this picture of Reilly resting in the sun yesterday. It fits nicely for cat blogging on Friday.

So, that’s a little bit of what’s going on with me.

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