Social Networks

Entries related to social networks, group psychology, anthropology, and really any of the social sciences.

Online Community Organizing

Last Thursday, Seth Godin wrote a post, Jobs of the future, #1: Online Community Organizer. It is a pretty good description some of the stuff that I’ve done for political campaigns and other organizations. One person, reading Seth’s post sent me an email suggesting that I “write to him and ask him for suggestions for who may be looking for a community organizer. perfect for you”

Apparently, the reaction was typical of reactions that Seth got. He has written subsequent post talking about the response he got and his plans to put a bunch of job leads up on Thursday. I hope he gets them up in time for me to respond before I hit the road for our annual trip to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.

He describes this as a job of the future, but others write about having done online organizing for years. Seth ends his first post with, “If you were great at this, I'd imagine you'd never ever have trouble finding good work.”

The problem is, that I’ve done too much of this sort of work on a pro-bono basis. So much so, that a person well acquainted with my current situation wrote me a note starting off “Dear Mr. Pro-Bono:” Right now, it seems that the only people who really get the importance of online organizing are non-profits, a few political campaigns, and assorted under-funded startups.

So, I’ve been looking around for other places where I can work these skills into the job. I’ve heard of one organization looking for a communications director that can think out of the box. I’m actively pursuing that position, along with many other people. I’ve been talking with a few tech startups about doing IT management or engineering as part of a segue to a focus on online community organizing.

On my own blog, I’ve been contacted by two technology evangelists. Tara Anderson, from Lijit sent me an email saying that she had seen that I had signed up for Lijit and wanted to get my reactions. Then Brandon Watts from Criteo left a comment on my blog thanking me for installing and blogging about Criteo and also asking for feedback. Lijit and Criteo are doing the right sort of thing.

So, if any of you know of people looking for a social media guru, a director of technology evangelism, or some related position that gets the importance of online community organizing, please let me know.

Keen and Kafka

Being the web 2.0 aficionado that I am, Andrew Keen’s book, “The Cult of the Amateur: How today's Internet is killing our culture” has bothered me. To a certain extent, I felt that it was because of his fundamental lack of understanding about the nature of authority and credentials. Yet I have just read the interchange between Mr. Keen and David Weinberger as posted on the web by the Wall Street Journal.

Tom Guarriello sums it up nicely here. Yet as I read the interchange a different thought occurred to me. Keen asks the question, “Is Web 2.0 a dream or a nightmare? Is it a remix of Disney's "Cinderella" or of Kafka's "Metamorphosis"?” He continues this metaphor, holding up Disney as the sought after cultural icon and Kafka as that which should be avoided.

If today’s Internet is killing our culture by causing content creators to be more like Kafka then like the Disney Corporation, then I dedicate this blog post to all the Kevorkianesque bloggers out there.

Or, to do my own Kafkaesque mashup, “Someone must have traduced Andrew K…”

The latest meme

Yesterday, Shine With Grace tagged me with the latest meme from JohnCow.Com.

It is the typical mailing list, ponzi scheme type meme. Copy the original list, which should include your blog already, if you’ve been tagged, and then add five more people to the list.

As I noted in a different list, if you get in early, your in good shape, but the meme can only go around six or seven deep before everyone in MyBlogLogs is reached. Also, as I’ve noted elsewhere, I’m not a big fan of copying the instructions. The more text that you have which is the same as on other websites, the more likely you are to be tagged as some sort of spammer and have your links denigrated.

Another thought about these sort of memes. Not only will this would increase your subscriber rate, which is probably a good bragging right, but doesn’t do much else for you, but it is also likely to raise your Technorati rank. My Technorati rank climbed considerably when I participated in the viral tags meme. However, the downside is that when you try to find who is linking to your site, all you find are the meme related posts, and you don’t find a lot of valuable content. Some people think this helps Google Page Ranks, but I don’t really think it does.

That said, I’ve been tagged and I want to honor that. So, here is the original list:

With that, here are the five people that I’m tagging:

I would encourage you to copy the list of sites and add your own five sites. That said, write your own thoughts about the meme. You will probably find it easiest to copy the source of the html and paste that in. If you have questions, let me know.

Lots of stuff


I had another appointment with the allergist today. In a nutshell, I’m allergic to shrimp and dust and should avoid them. If I have a strong reaction, antihistamines should be fine. Kim’s Lyme disease has been acting up and she’s back on antibiotics. Miranda sprained her ankle playing ultimate Frisbee at camp. Fortunately, it was the day after the first dance. I spoke with her last night and her arms are sore from the crutches, but she is in good spirits. My mother will have knee surgery in about a week. One of my friends has a bad infection which she had a year ago, and it has returned. Another is going in for a hysterectomy in a week. A third friend lost her mother to cancer this week.

With many of these cases, there have been issues one way or another with insurance and how things get paid for. All of this provides a good setting for me to go see Sicko. The Working Family Party in Connecticut has a great idea. Ask your State Legislators to go see Sicko with you. It would be good to get more of the Legislators to see the movie. At the same time, it would be good for more people simply to learn who their State Legislators are. I remember when Kim ran for State Rep and I heard a statistic that 85% of Americans don’t know who their State Rep is. Do you? Have you ever gone to a movie your State Rep?

Technology and the move

Most people get in touch with me via an email address that comes as part of my Internet service from my cable company. I’ve had this email address for many years. I’m on many mailing lists and in many address books with this email address. I’ve also used it for signing up for many social networks. We expect to move during the month of August, probably to an area served by a different cable company, so my email address of many years is about to go away. So, I’m starting to change as many subscriptions ahead of time as possible, and get as many people using a new email address.

I’ve had email addresses at Google and Yahoo! for years and I check them from time to time. You can use those addresses by simply changing the name of my ISP to or in email address. The college I went to provides email addresses for alumni and I check that address from time to time. For that, you can use my first initial, my last name and the year I would have graduated at

However, I am encouraging most people to contact me at an email address I’ve set up to go with this blog. Simply use the domain name of the blog, and add my firstname, a dot, and my last name as the beginning of the address.

Unfortunately, this morning, my domain was down because of a hosting problem. It has since been resolved, but it gave me a scare.

Technology and social networks

As part of the email address transition, I updated my profile at Plaxo. I was pleased to see that they now include OpenID. I’ll see what I can do with that a little later.

I’ve also added my new email address as a contributor to my ”blogger” blog. At some point, I’ll update that blog to use the new templates.

I’ve also started kicking around new, at least to me, social networks. One is Blogcave. You’ll see my recent readers widget on the right near the bottom. So far, I haven’t seen anything that Blogcave does that MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog and BumpZee doesn’t already do. I figure sometime soon we will see a shake out in this space similar to what we saw with click exchanges.

I’ve also added OthersOnline. Again, it is similar to MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, BumpZee as well as BlogCave and Criteo. It works primarily on tagging, so is a little closer to having something unique. I’ll search some of the links they come up with.

Lijit is an interesting site that I’ve stumbled across. It does web searches based on what you’ve found interesting in social networks. Think Rapleaf for searches. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get their widget to work properly. I’ll kick that around more later.


On top of trying to figure out my next job and moving, I’ve got a bunch of traveling coming up. This Thursday, we’ll be going up to Falcon Ridge for the weekend. It is a folk festival we’ve gone to for years. The following Thursday is whenYearlyKos starts. Like Falcon Ridge, it will go from Thursday through Sunday. I’ll probably attend it in Second Life.

However, starting on that Sunday, is the National Conference of State Legislatures annual conference. It is up in Boston and I’ve applied for press credentials. It goes through Thursday. However, Wednesday I am planning to speak in Connecticut about blogging. Once that is all done, it is back home to deal with packing and moving. I’m hoping we’ll have some friends and relatives around to help with that.

Getting rid of stuff

As we prepare to move, we are going to be getting rid of a lot of stuff through many different venues. Some stuff we will give to charities. Other stuff we will try to sell online, perhaps through sites like eBay and Craigslist, as well as some specialized lists. Some stuff we’ll give away through Freecycle, and in the end we may have an estate sale, and/or just get some junk removal company to come take things. So, if you’re interested things from the house, let us know.

Other Stuff

My latest graph of MyBlogLog surfing is up on Flickr. Stop by if you’re interested.

I’ve also recently added a bunch of sermons that I’ve received via email to the Stamford Independent site that got set up a long time ago, but never really gained traction. There’s some good stuff there if you like reading sermons.

So, that’s it right now at the Hynes household. Lots of stuff.

Who owns the group?

There is a group of people that meet at a conference every year. For the past couple of years, it has been facilitated a certain set of people. This year, the conference organizers have selected someone else to facilitate the group. I know some of the people in the group. They are smart people who like to think about group processes, and recently they got into an interesting question about who owns the group.

Is the group owned by the organization that sponsors the conference? By the group facilitators? By the members of the group? What does a change in group facilitation do to the group? I thought it might be interesting and expand it a little bit.

First off, we are all members of many groups. Some are very informally organized. Others are very formally organized. There are the group of people who are reading this blog post. This group has subgroups, people who come to the site, and people who read it through some sort of feed reader. Each of these groups can be broken down into further subgroups such as what browser or what feed reader is being used, or how you found the site in the first place. These grouping are very informal. People in the group may not know one another or communicate with one another. As such, these groupings are less interesting to me, at least for this blog post.

On the other hand, on a site like MyBlogLog or BlogCatalog, people can identify themselves as readers of this blog. On MyBlogLog, I can send messages to everyone who has identified themselves as a reader of my blog. Others can see who is in the community and read their blogs. Does MyBlogLog own that group? Do I? Do the members of the group?

In a similar sort of way, there are various people that gather to watch movies together because of some shared interest. The same questions apply about whether the organizers or members own the group. Yet in this case there is another possible owner of the group, the producers of the films being viewed. I like thinking about this because it perhaps brings us closer to one of the reasons why this is an important question. Ownership and leadership of groups affects the way communications take place and perhaps more importantly, the collective thoughts that emerge out of the group.

This might seem like a lot of theoretical words right now, but it can have some pretty immediate application. As an example, I was a member of a mailing list back in 2003, of people supporting Howard Dean for President. This group also met face to face from time to time. Who owned that group? The Dean campaign? They stayed away from any aspects of ownership, particularly for campaign finance reasons. There was the person who had set up the mailing list, who from Yahoo!’s perspective owned the group. There was a woman who was very active with the face to face meetings who tried to assert some sort of ownership of the group, and then there was the group itself.

During the power struggle between a couple of the people asserting ownership, I was drawn in. There were discussions about whether or not the group owned itself, and if so, how did it handle leadership and the administrative functions of the mailing list. In the end it split into two different groups which faded away after the campaign was over.

Within political blogging today, there are many mailing lists where bloggers congregate to plan their strategies. Who owns these groups? Who owns the progressive political bloggers or ‘the netroots’? Who owns the group of people that participate in DailyKos or are going to YearlyKos?

How do these ideas affect people stepping into the blogging? I know people who have resisted posting content online because they aren’t ‘bloggers’. They aren’t part of some group. They don’t feel qualified to join the group, or they don’t want to associate with some group.

By thinking about the nature of groups, perhaps we can learn more about what is going on around us in our blogs and mailing lists.

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