Social Networks

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

Hacker, 2013

For Allen Ginsberg and Aaron Swartz

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness.
The angry fix they sought was far different from that of Ginsberg's friends.
These hipsters were typing something other than 'starry dynamo' into the search engines.
They were Google mapping the seats of power at midday, not the negro streets at dawn.
They were fighting a in new revolution, a revolution that would take their life and liberty.

A junkie with a knife can be scary. He'll take the cash in your pockets and rush off for his fix,
leaving you shaken as you walk home. But a hacker with a mission, now that is dangerous.
He will shake the very means of production and distribution, the economy you depend upon
to get that cash into your pockets.

It's all well and good when they take down an Arab dictator.
It's tolerable when they change the news media and political process, as long as it can be co-opted by the press and politicians.

But when they start threatening the profitability of the legal and academic presses in the greatest democracy of the world, they must be hounded, driven underground, labeled hacker and felon, until they kill themselves.

Social Media for Social Good

Recently, I’ve been asked to speak at several events around using social media to help address some of the root causes of social problems in our communities, and to promote the growth of vibrant, inclusive communities, especially as it relates to health care. I’ve also had several individual discussions with people interested in finding ways to enhance their social media skills as part of a larger effort to serve the good of their communities.

For some time now, a bunch of people working in health care social media in Connecticut have been gathering monthly for breakfast and weekly online to discuss health care and social media in Connecticut. From my recent discussions, it seems like there might be some benefit for people around Middletown, where I work, who are interested in working together to use social media for social good to gather, share ideas, and find ways to work together.

If you’re interested, please let me know.

What's Your Social Media Impact?

People often warn high school kids about social media. Those pictures you post may end up affecting which schools you get into or which jobs you get offered. It is a valid point. There is still stuff I posted online over thirty years ago that, if you know what you're looking for, you can find. This is different than some of the posts from my written journal thirty years ago that I started posting online.

About twelve years ago, I went to a group relations conference in Holland. There was one moment I particularly remember. The group consultants changed roles and became members of the group. One of them made a comment about being able to just blurt things out, without thinking about the effect their comments would have on the group.

It seems like many adults on Facebook don't post material that they will be embarrassed about when they are looking for their next job, but they still blurt things out, without thinking about the effect their posts will have. I've been thinking about this a lot since Sandy Hook.

I've tried to post more positive material; highlighting compassion, cooperation and creativity, and trying to avoid the more polarized posts. One blog post that I wrote about video games started a bit of a discussion on Facebook, and one hyper-partisan individual resorted to 'argumentum ad ridiculum'. Unfortunately, it made him look ridiculous and did nothing to move forward the discussion at hand.

Perhaps this becomes even more important if you are a public figure, as Rep. Hovey discovered this weekend.

Yet does sharing positive stories make a difference? Yesterday, I shared a post about the Orange Lions Club Annual Wine and Beer Tasting. It is a fundraiser helping the Lions combat blindness. One of the organizers thanked me for sharing it and I appreciated her kind words. Hopefully, it will get a few more people to attend the event.

Now this is not to say that all posts need to be promoting the public good. It is important to be real, to be authentic online. I've set up a Facebook List of CT State Legislators were I get a sense at what those legislators who have friended me on Facebook or have public figure pages are writing about. Sometimes, they root for football teams. Sometimes they play Farmville. Sometimes they post pictures of having dinner with friends and sometimes, they share posts that can have a positive impact on their friends and constituents..

I hope everyone tries to have at least some of their posts make a positive impact on the people around them.

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Spoken Word Blogging

After college, I moved into an old cinnamon factory with a bunch of aspiring artists in New York City to be a writer. I was most interested in writing poems and short stories. I also had dreams of writing a great novel, but end up writing mostly computer programs.

Fast forward three decades, and I'm sitting in a nice house in suburbia writing blog posts on a laptop computer; a writing implement and genre that didn't exist back in the spice factory days. My online writing style continues to evolve. There have been times that I've written daily, sometimes, not very eloquently, in an effort to hone my craft. Other times, I've just been too busy to write regularly.

I'm starting off 2013 with a good string of blog post, but I've got a busy week ahead. I have to get non-blog writing done for other projects as well.

I'm also spending time trying to find things to inspire me and stimulate my creativity. Yesterday, I ended up on Sarah Kay's Ted talk, If I should have a daughter …

It got me thinking. Should I start hitting some of the poetry open mics? Should I start writing some more poetic blog posts to be read allowed, and then make a video of me reading them which I could share on YouTube? NPR has been doing an interesting series of having poets visit their news room and write poems about the experience and the day's news. Could I do a spoken word poetic news recap, perhaps drawing from other experiments in creative news, from the Daily Show to Autotune the news?

For politics, could I, a former, and perhaps future, political candidate, deliver spoken word poetic stump speeches?

I hope to give some of this a shot, perhaps even today, Epiphany, if I get the time.

Uplift: What's your SuperBetter Online Score?

As I sit down to write this, I find that my Klout score is current 73, my score on PeerIndex is 65, and my stock is at 229 on Empire Avenue. Klout shows my top topics to be social media and social justice. PeerIndex has news, lifestyle and the arts as my top benchmark topics and on LinkedIn, the skills I've received the most endorsements in are Blogging, Social Media and Social Networking.

Yet I have to wonder, how much does this really mean? Are these the scores that matter? I remember one person describing HITS on a website as How Idiots Track Success. How influential am I really, what sort of impact am I really having? These are thoughts I think about as I struggle with setting my goals for 2013, especially as part of the CT Health Foundation's Health Leaders Fellowship Program.

I've been writing a bit about Jane McGonigal's TED talk, The game that can give you 10 extra years of life which she calls SuperBetter.

In SuperBetter, you work on building up physical, mental, emotional and social resilience. It is a great concept and it made me wonder, what my SuperBetter Online Score would be. How often do I read a post that stops and makes me think (+1 mental resilience)? How often do I stumble across something mind numbing or brain dead (-1 mental resilience)? How often do I see something that warms my heart and causes me to want to do something good for the people around me (+1 emotional resilience)? How often do I see something that makes me want to just quit (-1 emotional resilience)? How often do I see something that makes me feel more connected to friends on line (+1 social resilience)? How often do I see something that makes me want to hide in a cave and not talk to anyone (-1 social resilience)? I have skipped over physical resilience; I'm not sure I get much for pluses or minus physically from my online activities.

Wouldn't it be great if someone came a long with a game, perhaps as a mashup of Klout, StumbleUpon and SuperBetter, where a post could be rated, and optionally shared using these scores? Instead of simply 'liking' a post on Facebook, I could say it gave me a +1 mental resilience. I could chose which posts to share based on this, and make an effort to only share those posts that are increasing resilience in whichever areas I'm most interested in at the time.

At times, I could go back and see which friends have posted things that have been most uplifting. I could thank them for it, tell others about how uplifting I find them. For people posting material generating negative resilience, I could decide if I really wanted to keep following them. Perhaps even a back propagating neural network could be added, but that's probably pushing the envelope beyond the scope of this blog post.

As Facebook, Amazon, Google and other sites continue to refine their searches and recommendations, perhaps I would start getting more uplifting content. Perhaps brands and news organizations could start promoting their material in a more uplifting manner.

I'm probably too busy to write something like this myself, but perhaps I'll find some open source tools I could tweak to get close to this. So, if someone wants to steal this idea and implement it great.

So, what sort of SuperBetter Online Score is this blog post worth?

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