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.

Non-governmental Organizations´ (NGO) networks contribute to healthy democracies

Social network of relationships between people, groups, organizations, non-profit and NGOs is tremendously increasing. This fact is more evident related to social networks, including Facebook, MySpace, FriendWise, Hi5, Yahoo! 360, Orkut, and StudiVZ, These are now providing NGOs a virtual podium to connect to a larger community of donors, members and/or activists. There are several advantages for NGOs to increasing their success, like crossing national frontiers or borders, creating a marketing fundraising platforms, and share trade as well as communicating the most relevant information through developing network-based approaches to the study of social issues.
Another one of those benefits includes diversity because the Internet grants individuals from all around the world access to social networking sites.
Particular evidence shows that NGOs and their use of networks have been supported by building solidarity, facilitating communication, and mobilizing political action in some countries with an incipient democracy. These networks have been particularly effective in pressuring governments to increase political transparency ending up striving for less corruption.
Jamie Metzl, Executive Vice President of the Asia Society, declares that “globalization and the information revolution are empowering decentralized networks that challenge state-centered hierarchies. These networks may be defined loosely as sets of interconnected individuals who occupy analogous positions in institutional or social structures and create new community relationships that build upon, democratize, and magnify existing social frameworks.” In other words NGOs and their networks contribute to healthy democracies and governmental transparency.

If we are looking closer to the analysis When taking a look at “the importance of the State: Political Dimensions of a Nonprofit Network in Oaxaca, Mexico” we can see that NGOs are more connected to government authorities than to any other type of non-state organization. For almost two decades, networks of Mexican NGOs have contributed to a political transition toward democracy. Evidence suggests that this transition has occurred sporadically leaving Mexico a democracy with authoritarian enclaves. In fact, the majority of ties reported by NGOs hit and influenced at various levels of the Mexican government. NGO network suggest heavy involvement by government authorities in civil society operations. In other words, the majority of ties reported by NGOs were to various levels of the Mexican government.

Networks distribute influence and power across traditional boundaries, allowing powerful interest groups to form and re-form rapidly into democratization.

The presence of NGO-state networks may also offer a unique opportunity for those seeking to support democratization in historically authoritarian settings.
Social networking for social good space continues to heat up with- “Social network services are social engagement tools,” as said by Joeri Gianotten the Business Development Manager, Asia Pacific.


- Neal, R. (2008). The Importance of the State: Political Dimensions of a Nonprofit Network in Oaxaca, Mexico. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 37(3), 492-511. Retrieved 26th November 2009 from URL: EconLit with Full Text database.

- Metlz, J. (2001). Network Diplomacy Carnegie Georgetown Journal of International Affairs Winter/Spring 2001. Reprinted with permission from Georgetown Journal of International Affairs Winter/Spring . Retrieved 26th November 2009 from URL:

-Amado Foundation 2009. Retrieved 27th November 2009 from URL:

Can Microblogs and Weblogs change traditional scientific writing?

“Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach” quoted Mark Prensky (Prensky, 2001). The students have changed radically because they easily and quickly adapted themselves to the transformation of the society. One of the biggest transformations of our society is the new way of creation of social networks. The traditional ones such as through family, school are still working but new ones such as socializing on the Internet with applications like skype, msn, facebook, blogs, microblogs, have emerged. As new tools of communication are more easily available to the students and as younger generation is getting more familiar with it, the method of teaching is also evolving. This brings us to the question “can Microblogs and Weblogs change traditional scientific writing?” [1] In order to answer this question Martin Ebner and Herman Maurer have conducted a short study.

In this study, the authors examine if the implementation of blogs or microblogs as a new learning method can enhance the learning outcome in term of reflection, discussion and quality of writing by comparing two groups of students: the scientific writer/reviewer and the blogger/microblogger. In the first group, the scientific writer should write two short papers and the reviewers have to read it. In the second group, the bloggers and the microbloggers have to provide at least two weblog-posts a week but in addition the microbloggers have to post a comment on at least two blog posts of the blogger group. The results of the study are quite interesting. It shows that with the use of blogs and microblogs, the students share more critical and personal opinion given that they can write anonymously. It also points out that the possibility to review and comment the work done by the student enhances quality and settles discussions. I completely agree on the fact that using a blogs or a microblogs can enhance the quality of learning. I guess that blogs and microblogs can be a complement to traditional lessons because, students feel more motivated to learn when they are introduced to modern learning tools. As a complement, students learn not only from the teacher but also from each other when they blog. As the blogs are interactive, the sharing of information among students also develops curiosity and thus they are prompted to participate to the lesson.

But it seems that the use of microblogs or blogs as an educational tool is still debated. In the article “Using and teaching educational technology”[2], the author stresses the point that when using microblogs, it becomes difficult to control the activity of the students behind the computer as they are used to surfing on the internet. Moreover it represents an additional work for the teacher to check all the comments. The author also underlines that it is not healthy to work all the day on computer. So he concludes that blogs or microblogs should be used as a complement to traditional lectures. Another article [3] raises also the facts that such learning methods will entail an impoverishment of the writing. In addition when we quit the traditional student/ teacher relationship to use digital exchange, students’ statements may be inappropriate in an academic context.

I really believe that one of the actual issues of the education is to incorporate the use of IT and should take into account that most of new generation builds its social networks on the Internet using IT tools such as chats, blogs, online games... Education aims to give autonomy to students by making them use knowledge they gain in school but the new generation, raised with the habit of using Internet, often lose their marks in the traditional way of learning offered by education. Sometimes the teachers are more ignorant about the latest internet tools and the students are more likely to teach them how to take advantage of the resources available on the web. If the use of internet technologies is spreading in schools, then the way of teaching, the student/teacher relationship should be rethought.
We know that these new learning tools will be used by most of students when they become “adult” in their workplace because our society is more and more digitally connected. At the hands of the growing information flux, education should help students use in an efficient, thoughtful and critical way the resources available on the Internet in order to build their knowledge and thus to practice their critical thinking in academic activity and social habits.

Sources :
[1] =
[2] =
[3] =

Social Networking Paradox: How close is too far?

Social Networking Paradox: How close is too far?

Three friends took a social networking quiz on a popular website to understand their relation better, after they got to read the results, they are not friends anymore. Peter named Amanda as his best friend, Amanda named Ronnie and Ronnie named a fourth person.

Peter: Amanda doesn’t treat me as her best friend; I do not like her anymore.

Amanda: Ronnie did not name me as his best friend; he is not my best friend anymore.

This small example explains the paradox of social networking. Social networks that could (and should) be used as tools to understand and facilitate the human interactions better, may also lead to situations uncalled for. Recently there was a news article stating that how 500 hooligans gate crashed a birthday party, which was advertised on face book profile, of a teenager in Hampshire. It took hours for more than 70 police officers to control the situation. It was certainly a party that went wrong due to the (in) famous out reach of Facebook.

I think that social networking is like nuclear technology, which when not used carefully, may lead to catastrophe. Social Networking, which surely has a lot of advantages, has also lead to some infamous incidents. Like every new technology, social networking sites also have their own share of infamy.

In one famous incident, Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for External Affairs of the current Indian government, almost risked his ministerial position after an infamous tweet. In another, a 16 year old girl from Essex was fired because she had posted some not so good comments about her job on her social networking profile. Recently, a Canadian resident lost her claim for the insurance when she posted her pictures on her profile.


Danah M boyd defines Social Networking websites as, “We define social network sites as web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site.”

Use of social networking websites, by HR managers, for checking the profile of prospective candidates is old now. All of us know that how the US current president Barrack Obama used Twitter and Facebook for his election campaign. Most of us have been successfully using social networking for applying for jobs and looking for like minded professionals.

However, along with the good aspects, social networking comes with its share of infamy and some little known paradoxes. The first and foremost step to resolve this paradox would be, to draw a line between social networking websites and social networking. Social networking is a lot more than just the websites. Websites like Facebook, MySpace and Orkut are just a part of the phenomenon called social networking. A narrow view of social networking and limiting it to websites it just illogical and uncalled for.

Privacy Paradox: There are several studies on the paradox associated with social networking websites. Categorically mentioned by Susan Barnes, “Teenagers will freely give up personal information to join social networks on the Internet. Afterwards, they are surprised when their parents read their journals”, explains how gullible a teenager could be, while using social networking websites.

Users often post their pictures posing in weird situations, for example underage users with alcohol or marijuana, and they are left flummoxed when authorities crack down on them using the photographs. On one hand, users are scared about their privacy being leaked to the open world; on the other hand vulnerable users will put all possible information about them on social networking websites to seek attention. Some teenagers and adults also, are under tremendous pressure to amass more online "friends" and fans. The goal is an ever-increasing girth of one's social network (Donath and Boyd, 2004). Users go to extents like posting weird stuffs and pictures, which they think will make them stand apart from the millions flocking the social networking websites. And like any broadcast, when such information reaches the audience that is not intended to receive the information, results may be uncalled for. Danah M Boyd also states in her research paper, “Taken out of context”, that how teenagers are under peer pressure to join a social network. How peer pressure leads them to participate in a never-ending war of increasing friends and followers.

When Mark Zuckerberg says that Facebook users do no need to worry about their privacy on Facebook, I just find myself clueless about his intentions. It is so well known that Facebook provides user information to third party applications.

Let me share with you, a small but glaring part of “Terms of Service” of Facebook, which you automatically agree upon when you sign up for Facebook:

you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook ("IP License"). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).

When you add an application and use Platform, your content and information is shared with the application. We require applications to respect your privacy settings, but your agreement with that application will control how the application can use the content and information you share. (To learn more about Platform, read our About Platform page.)


So, you can see what kind of rights you give to Facebook, when you sign up.

Leave apart their intentional sharing of information, there are projects that reveal that ‘homosexuals’ can be identified on these social networking websites, even if they have not disclosed their sexual orientation.


Balachander Krishnamurthy of AT&T, in his famous study, concluded that leakage of private information to third party is happening and is rampant on these social networking websites. He explicitly states that “OSNs (Online Social Networks) in our study consistently demonstrate leakage of user identifier information to one or more third-parties via Request-URIs, Referer headers and cookies. In addition, two of the OSNs directly leak pieces of PII to third parties with one of the OSNs leaking zip code and email information about users that may not be even publicly available within the OSN itself.”


One infamous case that makes most of us and not only us, but also the head of secret service agency MI6 vulnerable to information leak, made headlines in the world media. It happened when new head of secret agency MI6 found himself in midst of a severe security breach, when his wife published intimate photographs, address, details about holidays and family details on the Facebook website.


Internet is filled with stories when students from college were fired because of their Facebook profile.


When an employee was fired in Finland, local service industry union PAM chief Niina Koivuniemi said, “because many young people do not fully understand the differences between the privacy rights of Facebook and a private email or conversation, they become liable to lawsuits.” This statement summarizes the privacy paradox of social networking websites.

So, do we need a moral policing by authorities or introspection about this paradox of privacy over social networks?

Productivity Paradox: A lot of debate is going on banning social net working websites in organization. Some say that it helps them to concentrate after a small bout of socializing over the social networking websites. However, managers at most if the corporations do not agree with this argument. Increasingly, corporations around the world have started banning social networking websites.


Then people say quote studies that claim that social networking increases productivity by almost 40%. Then the workers associations stand up and demand for the access of social networking websites in work place.


But, little do they realize that the study emphasizes on face to face networking, rather than social networking via websites, “Electronic tools may well be suited to information discovery, but face-to-face communication, an oft-neglected part of the management process, best supports”, is clearly stated in the finding of the above mentioned study. Now there is a thin line between the two aspects highlighted by the article and the worker’s demand, which is alarmingly getting blurred everyday. According to a study commissioned by Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing firm, 54% of U.S. companies say that they have banned workers from using social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace while on the job.


Leave apart empirical studies, I personally have noticed my self and other colleagues of mine who are glued to Facebook for hours scribbling on profiles’ walls, when we all should be interacting in real time with a real colleague sitting next to our table. It for sure decreases productivity, and it is evident when after reading a slide of Social Networking lecture, I pause – log on to Facebook and start reading messages and chatting for hours before realizing that I have wasted hours, which I should have spent on my Social Networking assignment. If you do not believe my personal opinion, fine. But you will have to pay some heed to what “Aryn Karpinski” of Ohio State University and her co-author Adam Duberstein of Ohio Dominican University have to say, “college students who use the 200 million–member social network have significantly lower grade-point averages (GPAs) than those who do not”. Now, I guess this study by these scholars will make you think about his aspect of social networking.


Forget about other organizations. Even pentagon has imposed a blanket ban on social networking websites.


Even if you tend to overlook these studies, facts are something that can not be avoided. In my previous organization, a ban was imposed on all social networking websites after statistics showed that 70% of over bandwidth, and 45 % of the working time of the employees was consumed by websites such as Facebook, Orkut and YouTube.

Data security is one thing that is really important for most of the organizations in the globalize world. Free access of information may also lead to security breaches. A report by Proofpoint, an Internet security firm states that firms with an employee strength of 1000 plus employees are really apprehensive about the usage of social media by their employees for leaking secure information. In fact, 17 percent of corporations report having issues with employee’s use of social media. And, 8 percent of those companies report having actually dismissed someone for their behavior on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.


I am sure you would not want to get fired because you have said something nasty about your boss on a social networking website. A girl was fired from a UK firm after she posted some not so good stuff about her boss.

Now, here we need to understand how and when information is to be provided and how close do we get to our virtual world and how far we get from the real world.

I have read a lot of blogs and articles stating how the US President Obama used social networking for his election campaign. So, I would like you all to read what he himself has to say about Facebook. When asked about entering politics he said, "Well, let me give you some very practical tips. First of all, I want everybody here to be careful about what you post on Facebook, because in the YouTube age, whatever you do, it will be pulled up again later somewhere in your life.” This statement clearly states the both facets of the coin called social networking websites.


Facebook Paradox: I have personally noticed my cousins who used to be outgoing and excited about socializing with friends out in the evening, have now become Facebook addicts and spend hours glued to the screen of their computer. It makes me worried that a website that should be used for socializing is alienating my innocent cousins from real world. In fact, they prefer spending long hours with their computer instead of talking with family. Again, a line is to be drawn defining the usage of social networking tools, which may in fact facilitate increase in loneliness and depression.

Now I do not entirely agree with the definition of Facebook paradox, but I could notice a hint of it in behavior of my cousins. “The paradox can be explained by reasoning that somebody who is so active in Facebook must have a lack of real life social interactions to account for the time they can afford to spend on the Internet. On the converse, somebody with a very active social life does not typically worry about spending too much time on social networking sites (SNS), hence the lack of Facebook friends.”

When people advocate that social networking websites provide a platform for interacting for lonely and depressed people, they often overlook an implicit danger. A study by Yoshimitsu Takahashi states that “An SNS for people with depressive tendencies provides various opportunities to obtain support that meets users’ needs. To avoid a downward depressive spiral, we recommend that participants do not use SNSs when they feel that the SNS is not user-selectable, when they get egocentric comments, when friends have a negative assessment of the SNS, or when they have additional psychological burden.” Now this study clearly states that social networking may have benefits but it may also lead to dire consequences as self destructive tendencies. We all know about the in famous suicide case of Megan Meier.


(Mis)Use of Social Networking Websites:

Social Networking for sure, provides a platform for like minded people to interact and participate in constructive discussions; however, it may also lead to victimization of innocents. There is a famous UK case, in which pedophiles were using social networking websites to target their victims. Millions of adolescent girls are posting their explicit pictures along with their addresses names and other details. In fact after an outrage, Bebo came up with a temporary solution but we all including the authorities are still awaiting response from Facebook and MySpace.


One aspect that I am really worried about is the vulnerability of teenagers to get exploited on these social networks. I do care about increasing cohesiveness amongst people via these social networks but one death or one sexual abuse can not be compensated for any number of benefits of social networking websites.

We also know that how social networks have affected our daily lives. In fact a lot of people have found their friends, soul mates and dream jobs through these social networks. In fact there were certain charity events that used the strength of networking to achieve tremendous success for social causes. In such an event Twitter collected USD 250,000 (Twestival) for providing clean water to a population that is deprived of clean water. In another, a network raised enough money for a displaced woman.


Social Networking is an art and a science when it comes to visualizing interactions between people. Social Networking is a tool with the immense potential to realize the objectives of increasing synergies and exploiting untapped potential of networks. However, we also need to draw a line between the scope of networking, how it should not be exploited by the people with ill intent.

In today’s world, learning about social networking is like learning about sex in India. Everyone is worried about the implications, but no one would teach you. So, our most reliable sources are our friends and peers who are as vulnerable as we are. Banning or restricting social networking websites will be like banning airlines because of few accidents.

Now the onus is on to us, as how we can teach all these million kids out there and ourselves about the implications of social networking. What about introducing “Impacts of social networking” in course curriculum of schools and colleges.

Increased awareness is the only way by which we can tackle this enormous source of information that is enclosed in social networks. I would appreciate if Mark Zuckerberg and Rupert Murdoch, who are riding on the success wave of social networking, spend a couple of million dollars to spend on educating our younger generation and their parents. What about advertising and sponsoring such courses on their website. Social Networking is like a genie in the bottle that could build castles but could also destroy the world. Now we have to decide, what we want this genie to do for us. Education is definitely a tool that will help us tame this genie.

Being an ardent believer of social networking I would like this phenomenon to proliferate but with caution. While playing around with social network, I only wish that we do net get too close to our virtual connections, severing all our ties in the real world. It is a simple phenomenon that within a group more clustering will also lead to isolation from some one. Now we need to draw the line and decide, how close is too far.



P.S. I wish your profile or picture never gets featured on this website.

Finally, some information that may help you secure your privacy over these social networks:

And if you are looking for some statistics related to social networking, then work by

Jeremiah Owyang, is really helpful.

Disclaimer: Views of the researchers and people who have been quoted here do not necessarily reflect my views. I expressly disclaim any unwarranted interpretation of the article.