Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Managing your reputation online: an essential skill to develop?

Apparently so, not just for individuals, but for companies and their brands.  Click on the post title above to read more--essential debate preparation, I would think.

Merry Christmas to some and Happy New Year to all,
Prof. Tunnard

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Interesting article

The above link is about a social networking contest to find weather balloons. Check it out.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

MIT wins the DARPA Challenge (no surprise)

News Release
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
3701 North Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22203-1714
IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 5, 2009
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced that the MIT Red Balloon Challenge Team won the $40,000 cash prize in the DARPA Network Challenge, a competition that required participants to locate 10 large, red balloons at undisclosed locations across the United States. The MIT team received the prize for being the first to identify the locations of all 10 balloons.
“The Challenge has captured the imagination of people around the world, is rich with scientific intrigue, and, we hope, is part of a growing 'renaissance of wonder' throughout the nation," said DARPA director,
Dr. Regina E. Dugan. “DARPA salutes the MIT team for successfully completing this complex task less than 9 hours after balloon launch.”
DARPA announced the Network Challenge to mark the 40th anniversary of the ARPANet, pre-cursor to today’s Internet, to explore how broad-scope problems can be tackled using social networking tools. The Challenge explores basic research issues such as mobilization, collaboration, and trust in diverse social networking constructs and could serve to fuel innovation across a wide spectrum of applications.
DARPA plans to meet with teams to review the approaches and strategies used to build networks, collect information, and participate in the Challenge.
DARPA is the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense (DoD). The Agency manages and directs research and development projects for DoD and pursues research and technology where the risk and payoff are both very high and where success may provide dramatic advances in support of military missions.
“We need a renaissance of wonder. We need to renew, in our hearts and in our souls, the deathless dream, the eternal poetry, the perennial sense that life is miracle and magic.” -- E. Merrill Root
Media with questions, contact Johanna Jones, (571) 218-4512 or

Who's on the web, doing what?

The Global Web Index can tell you.  Click on the post title above.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chinese Guanxi versus Russian Swjasi

When searching for a good topic for my blog contribution I came across an article in HBR (1) dealing with a comparison of the networks of Chinese and Russian entrepreneurs. The author Bat Batjargal represents the results of his study evaluating ‘differences in the nature’ of the networks.

Mr. Batjargal characterizes the Chinese networks as those with higher density, higher trust small size networks. The author explains this by a grade of institutionalization (availability of procedures and organizations) and the kind of mentality. He sees China as a country with growing institutionalization. This provides a growing social stability. In addition to this, certain government restrictions reduce the mobility of the entrepreneurs. So the Chinese have smaller networks consisting of ‘family members, friends and colleagues’. In dense networks people are better connected with each other and seem to have entry barriers. The author speaks here about guanxi, saying “the rules of guanxi (informal connections) create barriers to network membership”. The Chinese way of thinking is concrete, characterized by affinity to harmony and balance, so the author.

The Russian networks represent the opposite, i.e. lower density, lower trust and larger size networks. The author explains this as follows. The institutions which used to execute a regulatory function of soviet government continually disappeared during the last 15 years. Low grade of institutionalization forces the entrepreneurs to build and strengthen their networks. Due to the mobility of the entrepreneurs the networks are larger, looser, the entry barriers are lower, as well as the level of trust. According to Bat Batjargal the Russians tend to be abstract thinker. They are quite comfortable to accept existence of contrary ideas.
I found the idea of comparison of the networks belonging to such different cultures very interesting, the way the author chooses the characteristics and performs his analysis quite persuasive.

I tried to imagine, how the entrepreneurs of such different networks and mentality do their business with each other. How they build the intercultural connections between their such a completely different networks. How challenging it might be for a Russian entrepreneur to enter a Chinese network, establish and maintain trust. This could be an interesting topic for a further, deeper investigation.

Agreeing with the results of Mr. Batjargal’s analysis concerning the part dealing with Russian networks I thought that analyzing the differences is a more thankful field. There must be also points of intersection, which may deliver some interesting insights. To my opinion, not only differences, but also certain common features exist between the Chinese and Russian entrepreneurial networks. So I tried to look for similarities.

The function of the social networks in both cases is to protect the group interests and to be able to resist the challenges of the entrepreneurial reality. This seems to be not the only point which both groups share. Discussion about Guanxi in this blog as a cultural phenomenon of “avoiding close Guanxi with outsiders of the family” (2) and mentioning Guanxi once again by Mr. Batjargal in his article (1) made me think about similar phenomenon existing in Russian networks in the soviet time and nowadays. The understanding and handling of the concept was similar in the vertical scale of connection and it was and is different in the horizontal dimension.
I come first to speak about the horizontal dimension of the phenomenon. The Russian ‘Guanxi’ was/is called Swjasi. A well-connected person, a man with ‘swjasi’ was a quite popular and appreciated member of a community in a soviet time (and is sill today). He could get almost everything and establish his life and the life of the members of his network according to the their perception. As you may know, under the soviet state-directed economy it was difficult to buy a certain range of products. It was a minor problem to pay these ‘rare’ products, the problem was to get access to buying them, e.g. to buy a car people waited sometimes for years. To avoid such situations, people searched for a connection to a man with ‘swjasi’. Here is the first difference to the Chinese Guanxi. The people looked for a well connected man and asked for a favor. Their motivation was to get a desired product or service. In such kind of networks certain entry barriers existed, they were defined by hierarchy levels or social status. Daring to ask for a favor was connected to the social status of the favor seeker. If his (favor seeker) connections and estimated value of repayment were strong enough, his wish was fulfilled in sometimes very short period of time. Otherwise a well connected man would not bother to do a favor to somebody, who, according to his estimation was not in the position to repay him on the same level (vertical differentiation according to R. Hanneman and M.Riddle), (4). The degree of estimated repayment should be comparable. This way the well connected people secured a repayment on the appropriate level. I define it as difference number two. The repayment was clearly required. Even more, it was sometimes discussed on thee early stage, when agreeing to deliver a favor to a favor seeker. If it was not quite clear to the point of agreement over a seeker favor, what the repayment should be, the social status of the seeker the warrantor of the appropriate repayment. A small example to illustrate this. A man with a good social status, a doctor, had as a rule connections in his professional field. He could ensure quick access to other doctors without need of waiting hours at the reception desk, which was the case for people without connections to a doctor. Another man, who works in the purchasing department can give a doctor an access to a variety of foods, which are not available for sale in usual supermarkets. So a doctor delivers a quick visit service to any doctor requested by a purchaser, as a repayment he gets foods for his family in the variety and quantity which outsider of the network do not have. Both of them consider each other to be on an appropriate social and are clear about possibilities of each other, so the repayment on the appropriate level is ensured. This connection enjoys long years of fruitful collaboration till one of them dies. No social dilemma of repayment. All important details are clear in advance.

This concept of ‘swjasi’ exist also now days. It has undergone certain modifications due to changes in the society. The level of institutionalization decreased, the social certainty, as it was the case in the soviet time in terms of certainty of getting working place according to qualification and corresponding living standard, is not existent any more. A survey done by Ruta Aidis, SSEES, University College London and FEE, University of Amsterdam andSaul Estrin, London Business School and IZA Bonn (3) reveals a “limited effectiveness of Russia’s networks for supporting entrepreneurial activity in its weak institutional environment.” But the core principle of ‘swjasi’ stayed the same. It does good to be well connected. Russian ‘swjasi’ function also in larger size networks with lower density and lower trust. The receiver of a favor do not consider themselves under a kind of pressure to repay the favor as soon as possible. The receiver would just ‘save’ a credit to the account of this network member and wait till he gets a chance to repay. This kind of understanding does not create a social pressure, like it is the case in the Chinese culture. The people do not tend to avoid connections. They accept favors as long as this happens on the same level.
As soon as it becomes vertical, i.e a favor seeker from a lower social level tasks for a favor somebody from a higher social level, then the things start to look a bit Chinese, i.e. it becomes more similar to the Chinese perception of Guanxi. The same reluctance to accept a favor request and also the reluctance to accept the repayment due to percepted inappropriate level of repayment(5).
In conclusion, I would like to come back to the topic of the HBR article mentioned above. The purpose of this article has a purely practical approach. Knowing differences in cultures and underlying concepts of networks makes it easier to find an appropriate way when trying to establish connections in the corresponding environments.

(4) Robert A. Hanneman and Mark Riddle, “Introduction to social network methods”. Readings delivered to the Course Social Networking at HHL
(5) Empirical research through conversations with entrepreneurs in current Russia, people having their working lives under soviet regime and my own memories.

The DARPA Challenge

If you ever wondered about the usefulness of studying social networks and the Internet, here's a compelling reason. Oh, and you can win US$40,000.

(From the website--click on title of post above to go there)
To mark the 40th anniversary of the Internet, DARPA (The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense)  has announced the DARPA Network Challenge, a competition that will explore the roles the Internet and social networking play in the timely communication, wide-area team-building, and urgent mobilization required to solve broad-scope, time-critical problems.
The challenge is to be the first to submit the locations of 10 moored, 8-foot, red, weather balloons at 10 fixed locations in the continental United States. The balloons will be in readily accessible locations and visible from nearby roads.

The competition is open to the public and offers a $40,000 prize to the first person, or group, who can identify the GPS coordinates of all the balloons.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The uncertain future of Facebook

At first I was about to write about utilization of social networking knowledge in WOM marketing. It has been already a while since people from this business fixed their attention to Facebook. But when I went through a couple of articles I realised that it is not clear what happens with Facebook in next five years and whether it will be really the holy grail of marketers.
Facebook is generally acknowledged to be a huge success of today. Mark Zuckerberg is constantly publishing breathtaking numbers of new users (by this time it is more than 300 million of active users). However, certain doubts are arising due to persistent silence of Facebook management, when it comes to disclosure of financial information. Facebook has been also criticised recently by its users for design innovations and by experts for awkwared business strategy.
This leads to a question whether Facebook is a successful well strategically managed company or uncontrollably growing experiment going on the path of trials and errors.
What will we to have to stand in the future to remain connected with our personal social networks? Paying of user fees? Increasing amount of advertisements? Disclosure of our privacy? And will we be still interested in this way of socializing? And the last but not least, who will be more empowered concentrated and connected customers or data mining marketers?
Many experts agree that Facebook will remain a substantial part of our reality. However, there is an uncertainity about how is it going to attract us in the future and what will be the engine for its profits.
During negotiations about Microsoft´s investment into Facebook, the value of Facebook was estimated to be 15 billion USD.[1]
Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, in her interview for Business Week ( ), assert that the company has already found its profit engine in advertising. Facebook offers to marketers highly personal connections with customers and enables ineractive marketing approach. Sandberg also confirmed that the company expects to grow revenue 70% year-over-year.[2]
In spite of this Michael Arrington in his article Facebook May Be Growing Too Fast ( ) claims that Facebook has a problem to keep up with growth and the communication platform will need money sooner than later.
He declares that “it costs a couple of hundred million dollars a year just to keep the lights on at Facebook“. Due to all of user-created translated versions of the website the number of users increases exponentially and there is not a possibility to restrict this trend significantly. Arrington assumes that Facebook spends millions on elektricity, servers, office and datacenter rent payments. Nowadays has Facebook 750 employees and this platform is growing. Arringtons estimates appear to be very likely and thus the question of how does the company plan to earn its profits in a close future, seems to be even more urgent.[3]

It is quite conceviable that Facebook will combine several strategies to finance that growth. According to Jeremiah Owyang ( there is a chance that Facebook will aggregate all digital media, so the company will be able to profit from the common knowledge that our decisions are highly influenced by our friends. Together with the real time search tool, which is already working, it will enable to deliver more relevant information to the customers, who will make their decisions while being influenced by their peers. Facebook will also able to provide more specific information to the marketers. Owyang also predicts that Facebook content will go more public. This is already happening (Friendfeed acquisition) and it was also confirmed by Mark Zuckerberg as a company´s future vision. Facebook might also colonize the other websites and enable any experince to be shared.
Personally, I believe that the main power of Facebook concerning profitability consits in the huge database of exact marketing information and in the number of contacts. The marketing practices on Facebook are already working very well, but mainly for lovemarks. However, some products are more suitable to succeed on Facebook than the others. Facebook is a big opportunity for emotional products such as (clothes, shoes, beverages, music, movies, etc.).
On the subject of marketing the proportion between public and private content becomes to be a question. I believe that Facebook has so many members because of quality of its privacy tools. But this key factor might also contribute to shrinking of the revenues from marketing.
Another thing is that main reason for the Facebook popularity is that you can get to know of your friends. Most of us go there to see what are our friends doing, what is new in their personal lives, to see the photos from the yesterday party, but hardly anyone is searching for marketing information. Facebook is about trust, but what happens, when you will not be sure who can see what on your profile? Or when everybody will be on Facebook, your boss as well as your grandmother? When strange people from your past will comment on your status more and more often? I think that managing this issues and achiving the balance between the privacy and public content are the biggest challenges that Facebook is going to face in the future. This will probably predetermine if we will meet each other on Facebook also in 2014.





“ This represents one small step for ICANN, but one big step for half of mankind who use non-Latin scripts”

A few weeks ago, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has approved that other, non-Latin scripts can be used for domain names. At the beginning of 2010 we can expect domains like: 首頁美.國政府門戶網站.正式, ввв.србија.срб etc.

But is it an outbreak of new revolution internet users all around the world will experience or just one more innovation that will make using internet to not-English speakers easier?

Perhaps, the best starting point to answer this question is looking at stat who are the internet users; according to the, about 1.733 billion people or 25,5% of the total world population use internet. When we compare percentage of people who use internet by language they speak, we will find no correlation. Languages with other scripts than Latin like Chinese, Russian, Japanese or Korean have the same or even higher percentage of users than those languages that use Latin language.
Therefore, my opinion is that statement from the Heading of this text; originally statement from one official from ICANN, is exaggeration.
I do agree that will be useful for easer communication to some extent; find webpage you want more easily, advertise your webpage in domestic market or apply internet technology to some prospective users. There is also a bed side; companies will have to register domains for each language which will make additional expenses for them, communication the e-mails will be limited with different scripts.

This article also induced me to find relation of internet usage by other criteria, age, sex, etc. The strongest correlation I found is between internet usage and living standard. Looks like PC and internet connection is still luxury for most of the world, allocating all those second-had PC to those countries would not be bad solution.

Switching to domestic non-Latin scripts will certainly make some changes but the answer to question stated above is INOVATION, it will not revolutionary increase usage of internet or change the way people use internet. My opinion is it has more symbolic meaning of equality that every language deserves and struggle of countries for national identity in globalized world.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A leader: with or without social network attention?

There is no doubt that many people among us will become leaders in our career life. Since a leader is the key to the performance and harmony of a group, I am therefore motivated to look at the relationship between leadership and social network.

One particular number that I learnt before first came into my mind. Do you know that to be a successful leader, how many percents of time you need to spend on communicating? It’s surprisingly 90% according to Project Management Institute. No matter the communication is proceeded in forms of oral or written, official or unofficial, this implies that a successful leader needs to pay attention to the networks around him.


The notable marketing professional Seth Godin defined the groups of people that share a common interest and have a way to communicate as tribes. An effective leader in a tribe should improve the communication between tribe members and the leader. It should be avoided for leaders not being open enough to allow members to contact them. A strong network within a tribe should have fluent communication flows, either horizontally or vertically. By doing so, the network can reach high tightness. [Source: 1, 2]

[Emotion Management]

In the research paper, The Ties that Lead: A Social Network Approach to Leadership, there is an interesting point saying that leaders are responsible to maintain the emotional health of all employees. It is because isolates and structural holes in network usually signal the existence of emotional distress which will result in the damage of the network. [Source: 3]

[Close Guanxi and Fear]

There are studies, however, on how close network in work environment can cause negative impacts, particularly the Guanxi concept in traditional Chinese culture. Guanxi refers to the relationship with others from self perspective. On the other hand, guanxi for most Chinese people is a channel of favor exchanging. It is said that in a network close guanxi can affect a leader’s decision. Take job hunting for example, people tend to refer to friends or families with stronger guanxi first. [4, 5]

Nevertheless, I believe that there’s necessity for an effective leader to take care of social network within a tribe. Now the problem is HOW? Some suggestions to tighten the networks are below:

1. Open for communication

People like to be heard. Leaders need regular face-to-face communication as well as online communication platform. This is NOT to monitor the activities of the network, but rather to manifest a willingness of communication.

2. Create positive emotions

A successful former-CEO in Taiwan ever told me, “I build up relationship with subordinates by going to Karaoke with them. And, I always learn one or two popular songs even if they are difficult for me.” Of course, approaches in this vary from one another and should be adapted to cultural difference.

Finally, it will be interesting to look further at how the leadership in a tribe changes when some individuals change (behavior or position).

By Cheng-Feng, Chung 鍾正峰


[1] Free audio of Tribes

[2] Review of Tribes

[3] The Ties that Lead: A Social Network Approach to Leadership

[4] Guanxi networks and members’ effectiveness in Chinese work teams: Mediating effects of trust networks

[5] Negative Externalities of close guanxi within organizations

What will you choose the Zeitgeist movement or The New World Order

I was interested in finding some way to watch sports on day and I looked to see if I can find some streams and I did find a stream on on this sit there were several sections one for sports one for entertainment and so on. When I finished watching the NY Giants football team win I decided to check out the entertainment section, it has a lot of different channels but one called the truth channel caught my eye. It was streaming a documentary called the “Zeitgeist” this documentary intrigued me and I ended up going to the website and joining this organization. I also watched two other documentaries which I recommend “Don’t talk about the weather (2008)” and “The Fall of the Republic”. This organization seeks to create a society without money and redistribute resources more efficiently by real scientific means it also points out who is behind the scenes players that aim to create a modern day serfdom system known as the NEW WORLD ORDER. The idea is simple lets get rid of money. The site builds on the ideas of Jacque Fresco to replace the monetary system with a social one. This will be hard since certain people actually seek to take control of the governments and people of the world and literally enslave them. The way this elite operates is with corruption and money. The following is what some elite people have done in order to gain control of money.

In a nutshell my understanding is that the government gives the power to control the money supply to a privately held Federal Reserve. The FED then loans money to the government (why borrow and pay interest if you can create money supply on your own, while controlling inflation by tightening or expending the money supply on your own) the government then makes us pay taxes which is by the way is illegal under the constitution and then uses our money to pay down the interest that it owns to the fed. So why do we have such a money system well we first need to look back to the creation of USA. If we are to believe Benjamin Franklin then “The refusal of king George III to allow the colonies to operate an honest money system which freed the ordinary man from the clutches of the money manipulators was probably the prime cause of the revolution.” (Zeitgeist the movie 2007) The fact is that the British outlawed the colonies to use the colonial interest free money system and forced the colonies to take loans from the Bank of Britain. This put the colonist into debt and so started the revolution. Later in 1907 JP Morgan wrote an article in a New York paper saying that a certain bank had not enough money to cover the withdrawals of its clients. This created a run an all banks and created the crisis of 1907. The government’s response was to create a commission to come up with a way to stop the problem from ever happening again the head of the commission a certain senator by the name of Nelson Aldrich who had ties to Mr. JP Morgan and would later marry into the Morgan family found a way to fix this. His proposal was to create a national bank and the government agreed to proceed so they asked to draft a bill but senator Aldrich did not create such a bill by himself instead he asked JP Morgan to do it. What JP Morgan did is he had invited several powerful banking families in 1910 to a secret meeting at Jekyll Island where these people wrote this bill Aldrich would later propose to congress. The bill is The Federal Reserve Act of 1913. Then JP Morgan reached an agreement with Woodrow Wilson, Morgan would provide financing for Wilson’s presidential campaign and once Wilson is elected he would push for the creation of the FED, well Wilson did win and he did sign the bill into law. By the way the actual passage of the bill is somewhat sketchy it was signed in the evening right before summer recess with the absence of many senators that actually opposed it. Also the bill that requires Americans to pay personal income tax was not ratified by the necessary amount of states I’m not a lawyer but some thing like this the constitution requires to be matriculated and 2/3 of states need to accept this and this never happened. The documentary of “Zeitgeist- the movie (2007)” explains this and if you actually read my blogg and take away anything please just watch Zeitgeist-the movie you can download it free on the web or you can go online to: ( this is a free TV on the internet this is not mainstream media this channel is called the truth channel and they play documentaries of all kinds for free and you can probably catch this documentary and the other two I mentioned above. The zeitgeist movie deals with some religious aspects in the beginning and it ties it all together to present day. If you find this interesting I suggest two more documentaries “The fall of the Republic” and “Don’t talk about the weather (2008)” this second one will really scare you and it will explain the real logic behind global warming, who is causing it and why so many governments want to create a carbon tax. Enjoy the documentaries and make your own decisions and if you want to fight back these documentaries will provide some options and also you can go to and see what the world can be without money.

In conclusion I would like to say that there is a social group that operates out of the shadows and controls our monetary system by legally bribing our politicians and it does not matter who wins all politicians are bought. Their ultimate goal is one world government where the few control the many, modern day serfdom. Consider something Woodrow Wilson said a year before his death when he realized what he has done with The FED act “ We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world- no government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority but a government by the opinion and the duress of small groups of dominant men.” (Zeitgeist – the movie(2007))

To understand what is really going on behind the idea of globalization please watch the 3 documentaries I suggested. Also become part of the alternative and join the zeitgeist movement.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the documentaries

Do mobile phones bring more freedoms to Iraqis?

During the past half-a-year there has been much writing about how mobile phones are empowering people around the world, providing them with access to instant communication, banking, and information. A recent article in The Economist now looks as well at the impact of mobile phones on the suffering population. In the article, Economist talks about mobile phone being allowed since fall of Saddam and their number growing fast in Iraq, which gives Iraqis "allegedly" more freedom. Just as in other impoverished regions around the world mobile phones enable impoverished locals to make cash-free on the spot transactions, and receive viable information over large distances. However, I would argue that while mobile phones do provide some benefits, these benefits will not help Iraqis greatly in attainment of personal freedoms.

We have seen examples of information technology playing a major role in overcoming oppression and bringing about political change. Christopher Tunnard writes about the impact of internet on the fall of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, and argues that information technologies are in power to connect people who otherwise isolated. Access to internet enabled small disconnected interest groups to unite in their fight against oppressing government. While their access to internet helped them in their goals, it is important to note that Milosevic and his circles had little to none understanding of technology and had no use of it. It is possible to make a claim that it could have been that lack of IT expertise of the ruling administration that caused their fall. The difference it makes is that it is not only important to look of use of communication technologies, but also at the other circumstances. Therefore we cannot say that technology alone helped Serbians in their attempts to overthrow Milosevic, but other circumstances as well. For example, in China internet is widely spread and use of it is growing. However, it doesn’t help Chinese to attain more freedoms. Government mastered use of this technology and is using it for its own means. Advanced technologies enable government to track any electronic communication, spot any "rebels" and put out any danger to the state before it became too serious. Taking that into consideration, I would like to reiterate that while mobile phones do bring economic benefits to Iraqis, it would be erroneous to claim that they will bring them more freedoms.

Mobile phones have a very limited range of uses. People are able to have a two-way instant communication and a limited data transmission. While basic phones are relatively inexpensive and available to lower and middle class, more advanced systems (smartphones, iPhones, etc.) are more expensive and have higher usage costs. Therefore only basic models with limited application are widespread to general public. Basic mobile phones are not very effective in use of social networking website and tools, and cannot help spread information rapidly and to many receivers at the same time. In addition, now governments are more adept at using advanced technologies and can easily track phone calls, data transmissions, and prevent users with suspicious behavior from further use. We also need to take into account that oppression and fear comes not just from the government, but mostly from insurgents and militant groups. There is little help for Iraqis from a mobile phone to shelter them from a suicidal bomber or unanticipated covert operations.

We can have hope that mobile phones could help Iraqis economically, and allow them for better business environment that will foster a faster development. But otherwise, we must not hope that this technology will help Iraqis bring more freedoms or any future democratic development. I would advise strongly all those interested in the rise of democracy in Iraq not to rely on mobile phones alone to bring forth change, but to try and introduce better ways of networking and communication that will empower masses and give them tools to make a positive change.

From State-Controlled Media to The 'Anarchy' of the Internet: The Changing Influence of Communications and Information in Serbia in the 1990s; Tunnard, Christopher R.; Journal of Southeast European & Black Sea Studies; May2003, Vol. 3 Issue 2, p97-120, 24p

“Information and Communications for Development 2009: Extending Reach and Increasing Impact”. World Bank, 2009.

“Poor People Using Mobile Financial Services: Observations on Customer Usage and Impact from M-PESA”. Olga Morawczynski and Mark Pickens, CGAP, August 2009.

There are no rules until you break them: the case of Wiki

Wikipedia as a site for the study of social norms

Wikipedia, one of the world's largest crowdsourcing initiatives, is becoming less freewheeling and more like the organizations it set out to replace. Today, its rules are spelled out across hundreds of Web pages. Increasingly, newcomers who try to edit are informed that they have unwittingly broken a rule -- and find their edits deleted. (WSJ, 24 Nov 2009)

Robert Kay of the Centre for Research in Social Simulation University of Surrey observes that Wikipedia changed from its ‘there are no rules’ policy in 2001 to have 5 key rules,15 rules of thumb, 21 points of etiquette and 42 policies to guide the interaction of its members in 2007.

My blog entry is a summary of the some of the reasons behind evolution of Wikipedia from freewheeling anarchy into an increasingly hierarchical society mentioned in the article that I read in the European edition of the Wall Street Journal. “Volunteers log off Wikipedia as rules limit the madding crowd” by Julia Angwin and Geoffrey A. Fowler and appeared in the Business and Finance section of the WSJ on 24, November 2009. Julia Angwin is a senior technology editor with the WSJ. HHL – Leipzig Graduate School of Management avails the WSJ and other leading newspapers like Financial Times, FAZ, Handelsblatt and Börsenzeitung to the students and the HHL community. (NB: the link leads to an online version of the article which slightly differs from the printed version)

According to WSJ, is the fifth-most-popular Web site in the world, with roughly 325 million monthly visitors. But unprecedented numbers of the millions of online volunteers who write, edit and police it are quitting. And they are leaving faster than new ones are joining. The WSJ report the findings of Spanish researcher Felipe Ortega who says that the English-language Wikipedia suffered a net loss of more than 49,000 editors in the first three months of 2009, compared to a net loss of 4,900 during the same period a year earlier. Felipe Ortega analyzed Wikipedia's data on the editing histories of its more than three million active contributors in 10 languages. "Wikipedia is becoming a more hostile environment," contends Mr. Ortega, a project manager at Libresoft, a research group at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid. "Many people are getting burnt out when they have to debate about the contents of certain articles again and again."

Wikipedia contributors have been debating widely what is behind the declines in volunteers. One factor is that many topics already have been written about. Another is the plethora of rules Wikipedia has adopted to bring order to its unruly universe -- particularly to reduce infighting among contributors about write-ups of controversial subjects and polarizing figures.

The WSJ states that Wikipedia's popularity has strained its consensus-building culture to the breaking point. Wikipedia is now a constant target for vandals who spray virtual graffiti throughout the site -- everything from political views presented as facts to jokes about their friends -- and spammers who try to insert marketing messages into articles. Errors and deliberate insertions of false information by vandals have undermined its reliability and declining participation raises questions about the encyclopedia's ability to continue expanding its breadth and improving its accuracy. In reaction to the vandalism, many of the editors have adopted a ‘shoot and ask later’ policy which has proved to be a hindrance to newcomers as WSJ notes.

Wikipedia has often been cited as proof of one of the Internet era’s most dearly held assumptions – that there is wisdom in aggregating the independent contributions of millions of users of the Web. But in its maturity, Wikipedia is illustrating another valuable lesson about online societies: the key to producing information from Internet Users isn’t the size of the online “crowd”, but rather how its members interact as a community. In 2008, Wikipedia's editors deleted one in four contributions from infrequent contributors, up sharply from one in 10 in 2005, according to data compiled by social-computing researcher Ed Chi of Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center.

Citizendium which was established by a former Wikipedia co-founder states that "[Wikipedia] is part anarchy, part mob rule. The people with the most influence in the community are the ones who have the most time on their hands—not necessarily the most knowledgeable—and who manipulate Wikipedia's eminently gameable system."

In summary, a fair and consistent enforcement the existing policies and guidelines in place would most probably yield solid articles. The problem is, these rules are not consistently and fairly enforced. As CAMERA notes: “In fact, many of the administrators — who can be thought of as "editors with friends" since they are elected by other editors to a position of more power and authority — selectively use these policies to promote their own biases. And unlike the mainstream news media, where careers and reputations are staked on adherence to professional codes defining ethical journalism, pseudonymous Wikipedia editors are likely to feel comfortable ignoring the rules. Nevertheless, more editors following the policies could potentially lead to more accuracy and fairness on Wikipedia”.

I found some papers that have analyzed Wikipedia’s social structure. You are welcome to check them out for further information.

Censorship through Social Networking Platforms

As a nonuser of typical social networking sites (e.g. facebook and myspace), I am consistently overcome and amazed at how often they are referred to: the ever continual intertwining of virtual and real world realities. As these two realities merge, can social networking platforms be used to censor. At first, this notion of censorship through such open platforms seems counter intuitive and almost preposterous especially in free societies.

Danah Boyd points out in “Viewing American Class Divisions through Facebook and Myspace” and Jason Falls argues in “Social Classes and Social Networking” the existence of virtual social class divisions (active members of specific social networking platforms). In this article, Danah states that Myspace’s primary users are mainly from one of the following segments: lower class, LGBT community, teens, uneducated. Danah also states that Facebook’s primary users are not from any of these groups. Whether or not her argument is true, the point is that each social networking platform is a business and in business one must segment the market. This segmentation and targeting of the market should (theoretically) split inadvertently the real world society into virtual social class divisions. Moreover, the more incumbents entering the market will further segregate and delineate virtual social class divisions.

Danah goes on further to introduce that this virtual social class division exists within the U.S. military and that the military used this social division to censor or mitigate one of the class divisions through restricting the use of social networking sites to specific platforms. The military’s official statement was that DoD’s computer networks were being clogged through the use of these sites. Regardless of the true reason, Danah’s argument that the military censored a large community is theoretically true if social networking platforms are segregated into virtual social class divisions.

The real point is that through segmentation of the social networking platform into virtual social class divisions, uncontested legal censorship and if I my dare to say uncontested legal discrimination are “theoretically” possible through social networking platforms. How often are users of social networking sites unknowingly censored or discriminated against through these platforms?


Rosencrance, Linda.(2007).DoD blocks military access to social networking sites.

Infiltrating social networks

The last few weeks were really tough for German football fans. As if the tragic suicide of our very popular national goalkeeper Robert Enke didn`t shock us enough, another shocking news ripped into the German football heart. Football betting scandal in the Bundesliga! Sepp Herberger, coach of the German World Cup winning team of 1954, once said: "The spectators go to the football, because they do not know how it ends."

Not the only, but one of the main reasons why football is so absorbing and activates millions of people around the world since decades. Herberger's legendary record is strongly challenged by the latest revelations about match-fixing and scratches immense at the positive image of Germany's most popular child - the “Bundesliga” -.

National and international newspapers and magazines such as "Manager Magazin", "Der Spiegel", "Die Welt", "Telegraph UK", report since days extensively on the subject of illegal-betting and manipulation of sporting events.

One article tries to illuminate the structures of the betting-networks, another article is discussing the impact of the recent victimizations to the sport. What is striking in the different reports further that there seems to be not only one network of betting-cheater , but rather a bunch of cheating networks which are operating independently from each other and which have one in common: They are badly damaging the Network Fussball Bundesliga by their intrigues.

On closer examination it becomes clear what the articles suggest:
Over years different networks of criminal people tried to divert the functional and homogeneous system Fussball Bundesliga from its intended use to exploit it for their own purposes by manipulation games and breaking crucial rules of that network and, by doing so, calling the right of existence of the network Bundesliga into question because they undercut a substantial part of the basic concept which is "the uncertain outcome of the games."
Would the Bundesliga still fascinating millions of people, would we still see the twinkle in the football fans eyes when fans begin to doubt whether what they see every Saturday on the field is really "honest work" or more a “collusive game”? Probably not. One thing is certain: The network of betting-cheater has successfully brought a once homogenous network comprising fans, players, clubs, TV stations out of their inner balance.

My lesson: Protect your network !

The next questions that came to me out of the above discussion were the followings: How can I protect my network and if so, is it permanently even possible? Am I ever able to identify potential threats to my network which is the crucial bases for effective protection of my network?
The example of the Football League and the sport provides evidence that, since the long history of the Bundesliga, there have always been betting-scandals once in a while and the people who have committed to illegal-betting and manipulation were rarely the same.Activities and high technology control systems introduced and installed over the last years by German and other European football associations as well as legal-betting firms in order to foreclose and discover manipulation of football games were not able to prevent the newly formed networks from trying to attack the network football again and again successfully.
Those who believe to banish manipulation and illegal-betting via high technology systems and the possibilities that arise from technological progress are wrong. Despite all the technology that is used to prevent and detect, as perfect as the systems might ever be, these systems would never be able to fix the biggest flaw in the “manipulation chain”: The manipulation of humans by humans.

A network driven by people will always be manipulated!

Christoph Wachtmeister

Articles around the manipulation in soccer
Die Spielverderber – Article gives one example how manipulation in the Bundesliga might work
Manager Magazin,2828,662706,00.html

Empowering the Consumer Through Social Networking

Many have theorized about the promise for new social networking technology to improve the internal organization of companies. But social networking has another, perhaps more powerful use – to empower the consumer in every step of a product rollout, from development to marketing. Social networking has been around for far longer than Friendster, Facebook, or Linked In. In the past, though, communication between companies and consumers would mostly be confined to push advertising through TV and Radio ads, with periodic consumer surveys thrown in for good measure. The wide-spread use of the Internet, and specifically social networking platforms, has changed the equation. There is now the possibility for real-time dialogues not only between a company and an exponentially growing network of consumers, but within that very consumer base. The application of social networking tools to the holy grail of marketing, word of mouth, is especially exciting. Olga Botero, in her article in Customer Think Magazine, writes: “Just think what happens when a customer uses a social site, and the unhappy customer posts the experience in a place where it's not just 12 people—or 132—but millions who read about it. That could destroy a company.”[1] Now think about the benefits of a positive review posted on the right customer’s blog. In this modern world, the ability to (1) match consumer needs and tailor a company’s image and products around them and (2) gain exposure to the right portion of this consumer network (i.e. strong connectors) is paramount.

Companies are well aware of this, and many are incorporating modern (and sometimes not-so-modern) social networking technologies to achieve these objectives. For example, as Ford prepares for next year’s launch of its Fiesta subcompact in the US, it invited 100 young adults to live with the new model for 6 months and share their experiences via their Facebook, Twitter, or blog sites. If Ford chose these lucky individuals wisely, the networks of 100 highly influential connectors in their communities will be exposed to first-hand accounts of the car – making the exposure that much more trustworthy and powerful. Furthermore, as Ian Shafer, CEO of the marketing firm Deep Focus puts it, “It shows that Ford cares what customers think.”[2] Other companies are exploring how best to gather customer ideas for product improvement. Coca-Cola, for instance, held a contest on Second Life that asked players to “design a Coke machine that would work in the virtual community.”[3] Perhaps the most interesting application of social networking I came across has little to do with online technology at all. When Vaseline was devising a marketing strategy to push its new lotion, they decided to offer free samples in a small town in Alaska (though this was apparently not because of the state’s famous/notorious ex-governor) and then map the social network in the town – how fast did word spread among residents, who recommended the lotion to whom, etc. The result was the discovery of a particularly influential local resident, around whom Vaseline’s advertising strategy was subsequently centered.[4]

Despite these well-documented, high-profile uses of social networking to empower consumers, the potential benefits to a company are not guaranteed. The use of social networking for commercial purposes is still a new field and there are few companies with proven expertise. First, there is the obvious conflict with worker productivity. When it comes to employees using social networking sites, a number of companies seem to lack the will or resources to differentiate between personal and business purposes. This is illustrated by a study commissioned by Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing company, which shows that “54 percent of U.S. companies say they’ve banned workers from using social networking sites [...] while on the job”, while only “9 percent of companies allow social networking use only for business purposes”.[5] Second, as Stephanie Clifford of The New York Times notes, companies’ dabbling with social networks is “part fad and part marketers’ hope that customers [are] so devoted that they [are] dying to discuss shampoo or tires online.” How can companies consistently understand which products a potential customer will choose to care about, if any, while they are socializing online?

These are valid concerns that must be dealt with by companies as they explore the uses of social networking. But I strongly believe that they are worth exploring. Social networks are simply another medium of communication, albeit one with growing complexity due to new technology. And as any medium of communication, there is the capacity to do both good and bad. But companies should be looking for innovative ways to best manage this newfound company-consumer interaction, or they risk being left behind.