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.
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?
It has been a rough few weeks, so I thought I'd unwind with something a little different last night, so I ended up watching the video embedded in the article Jacques Lacan Speaks. My French is rusty and my knowledge of psychoanalysis as well as of the sixties in France is limited, but it really got me thinking about things beyond what has been going on more immediately in my life.
My thoughts drifted to the Open Yale course, INTRODUCTION TO THEORY OF LITERATURE, as I thought about how I was understanding what Lacan was trying to say. My thoughts drifted to Geert Lovink's new book, Networks Without a Cause: A Critique of Social Media.
The article with the Lacan video has the line, "Lacan still has his fans, notably the 'Elvis of Philosophy,' Slavoj Zizek, who dominates YouTube the way his predecessor once did salons", and it made me wonder about the discourse Lacan would have had with the Internet.
I've always been interested in how groups interact online, back years ago when I worked with a management coach whose specialty was the psychoanalytic study of organizations. My thoughts wandered back to reading many articles from the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations as well as attending experiential group relationship conferences organized by the The A K Rice Institute and the William Alanson White Institute.
My mind returned to the old question, if groups have a persona and with it, an unconscious, what can we say about online groups, or, to put it another way, how would we understand Facebook as an analysand?
Now, most of us experience Facebook, not as something completely other. First and foremost, it is, very much, a social construct, coming out of a specific time in American history. That, in and of itself, is worth extensive study. Even more so, our experiences with Facebook are typically with a set of people whom we have designated as 'friends'. In many cases, this is a self selected group, of a similar size to a Group Relations, or perhaps Lacanian Large Group of around 150 people. In my own case, it is a much larger group, the size of a small town of over 2,500 people.
It is further complicated that the boundaries are much less clear. Everyone in my Facebook Large Group belongs to their own Facebook Large Groups which have different sets of members, and content from one group easily gets shared from one group to another. In addition, Facebook is 24x7. For many of us, there are now time boundaries on the group. Lacking these boundaries, the group does not have the same sense of safety that a normal group might. However, that sense of safety may be promoted by the disinhibition that often accompanies online interaction.
So, if my Facebook Large Group is an analysand, does that make me the analyst? Am I approaching this group like an analyst would? Where does transference and counter-transference fit in? What can I learn, about myself and about my society by looking at my Facebook Large Group through the lens of an analyst?
With this, I come back to Geert Lovink's new book. If Facebook a network without a cause? Is his question "at what point do we pause to grasp the consequences of our info-saturated lives", construed too narrowly to think only about the conscious information that is saturating our lives, or is there room for exploring the group unconscious information that we might be able to tap into via social media. For that matter, how different is the group unconscious of a Facebook Large Group from that of other very large groups? Yes, we can talk about persistence, searchability, reach and scope, both are they really a difference in magnitude or a difference in kind? Was not the information of early villages also persistent and searchable, through the town elders, historians, mystics and artists?
So now, I need to post these thoughts on my blog. They'll be shared on Facebook, and perhaps discussed a little there. How will it change my interaction with social networks? How will it change the interaction with social networks of others in my Facebook Large Group?
Maybe that will be a different blog post and Facebook discussion.
Here is another one of my longer blog posts thinking about what it means to run for office. It has also been submitted to the Bethwood Patch.
Recently, I wrote a blog post about being a participant observer in electoral politics. I'm running for State Representative in the 114th Assembly District in Connecticut, which includes all of Woodbridge, much of Orange, and the eastern side of Derby. Since that blog post, I've been very busy with tactical aspects of my campaign and haven't been writing as much as I would like.
This morning, I'm taking a few minutes to reflect on an aspect of running for elected office that I haven't found a lot written about, group dynamics.
I've had a long interest in group dynamics, especially as it relates to online communities and to group psychotherapy. It's a topic I've studied for over a decade and I'm a member of a mailing list of group psychotherapists.
So, let's try to look at this from a group perspective. I'm a member of a very large, non cohesive group. It is made up of about 15,000 members. It is the registered voters in the 114th assembly district. Like any large group, there are interesting subgroups to look at. There are the registered Democrats, the registered Republicans, the unaffiliated voters, and those that are registered with less known political parties.
There is the group of people who vote in primaries, the group of people who vote in municipal elections, the group of people who vote only in presidential elections, and the group of people who don't get out and vote at all.
I have chosen, perhaps because of some valence, to take up the role of candidate. For my friends with a group relations bent based, I am perhaps engaged in what Wilfred Bion would refer to as Basic Assumption - Pairing. My opponent and I are engaged in a discourse representing different views of how our community should move forward. The rest of the group watches, perhaps adding comments here or there, and hoping that the person whose views most closely match theirs prevails. We are seeing this dynamic intensify in U.S. politics as politics becomes more and more polarized.
The subgroup of those who are politically active and are hoping my views will prevail show a wide range of reactions. Some have contributed the maximum amount of money permissible to my campaign. With the Citizens Election Program in Connecticut, that is $100. They have spent time helping me get my message out. They express frustration that I have not been raising enough money, that I have not been contacting enough voters, or that I have not stayed closely enough to my message. They have high hopes for my campaign, and nothing will be enough to satisfy them until I get elected. Others, who are politically active and that I've hoped would be more involved in the campaign have resisted my requests for assistance and have expressed frustration at my repeated requests.
My job, assuming I get elected, will be to represent all of the people in the district. Not just those who share my views, or not just those that hold specific expectations of me.
At times, I hold the frustrations of my most ardent supporters, the weariness of my least enthused supporters, and I try to maintain the participant observer role in such a way that I might transform local politics.
How do we move away from basic assumption - pairing thinking, while at the same time holding fast to our hopes and dreams? How do we find common ground while seeking to differentiate ourselves from our opponents? How do we keep campaigning at peek performance without burning out?
These are the questions I struggle with as I campaign. Part of my stump speech is, don't vote for me because I have all the answers, parroted from party leaders or talking heads on cable television. Vote for me because I'll ask the tough questions. How do we understand the group dynamics of electoral politics and shift them to more of a working group behavior is just one of those difficult questions.
Last month, I wrote a blog post about personal Genomics. It is a topic I've been getting more and more interested in. The other day, a friend tweeted about a discussion on LinkedIn, Would you have your genome sequenced?.
84% of the respondents said they would. The subsequent discussion hit a lot of issues, including how testing relates to various U.S. Federal acts like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
One person posted a link to a blog post, Whole Genome Sequencing and Calculating Risk Tolerance. The blog post pointed to an article, Harvard Mapping My DNA Turns Scary as Threatening Gene Emerges. It was an article I concurrently found links to from a different discussion.
The author, through genetic testing, discovered he had a variant called JAK2, associated with rare, cancer-like, blood diseases. It is a great article and well worth the read. As the author explored the ramifications of finding out about genetic propensities to rare diseases, he noted
a 1999 study in the American Journal of Human Genetics found that about 1 percent of 4,527 people who were told they had the gene that causes Huntington’s disease, a progressive nervous system disorder, attempted or committed suicide, or were hospitalized for psychiatric reasons
Does knowing about certain risks, link that of Huntington's disease increase other risks, like that of attempting suicide? How should we, and particularly, how should genetic counsellors, deal with these shifting risks? Should genetic counsellors get get some training in psychology, or work with psychologists?
I'm not sure, but even after reading all of this, if there was affordable direct to consumer Whole Genome Sequencing available, I'd still go for it. But then again, I like to explore new technologies and innovations, partly in hope that my explorations might help others.
The other day, I was listening to the radio and I heard something that has set me off in the search of a Musical Linguistic Virus. The idea comes from Neal Stephenson's novel, Snow Crash. In Snow Crash there is a bio linguistic virus which ends up getting spread via virtual worlds. It seems to be a pretty virulent science fiction virus, but it seems like the idea isn't really all that far from reality.
Ideas, snippets of music, and memes have been spread from one person to another for ages. Perhaps a good example is an ear worm. Even without the Internet, ear worms can spread quickly. For people my age, I could simply mention, "Lovin' You" by Minnie Riperton, and many of my friends would not be able to get the tune out of the head.
Yet perhaps musical linguistic viruses in the Internet Age are more complicated. It wasn't a simple ear worm that I heard on the radio that I haven't been able to get out of my head. Instead, the host of the radio show was talking with guests from a band. They talked about key musical influences, bands from the eighties, and reusing samples. Perhaps they are taking musical DNA from the eighties and mutating it into new ear worms or musical linguistic viruses.
They mentioned Brian Eno, so I started to listen to some of his ambient music series on Spotify. This is a new avenue where musical linguistic viruses can spread. A thought came to me listening to a radio show. I pursued the thought on Spotify by listening to the music. Spotify posted to my Facebook Timeline that I had listened to Brian Eno and friends commented on it.
Steven L Johnson said, "That's what I listen to when I want to nap. :-)".
I responded, "Well, I've had a LONG week, and I'm actually going to crash soon." In fact, I did head off to bed soon after that, but my mind continued to turn about this. How does music affect what we think? How much does it reflect the current culture? Can we culture jam spreading different musical linguistic viruses via the Internet?
Perhaps an interesting project would be to create word clouds of the lyrics to the 25 songs of each year and tracking how it has changed.
So, what are you listening to? Why are you listening to it? How is it changing you? Perhaps most importantly, can we change what we listen to and how we talk about it to change our country and our world?