Stef T's Study Blog


Those Flashy but quite Smart Mobs

There are many different ways to organise communication. An interesting way to get the message across is in the form of mobs. Flash and Smart Mobs are two different versions of essentially the same thing. Both are used to get the point across, both are organised very carefully even if it may seem unplanned.

Bianca talks about the assembly of a Flash mob in Macy's, where two hundred people asked for a "love rug" and greatly confused the staff. This type of assembly is something that is usually put together for the sake of breaking conformity. Often groups feel that the world is overly structured, that people need to "cut loose", and organise comical yet meaningful flash mobs to break the monotony. These mobs can be formed quite easily nowadays, what with the use of blogs, email, chat rooms, cell phones and text messages to name a few, there are so many different ways to communicate. The organisation of such mobs, and smart mobs too, can literally be formed at the drop of a hat by something like a group text message.

When I think of slower forming things like sending out invitations or alerts to a scheduled mob like using snail mail or perhaps even advertisments, I think of Smart Mobs. Smart mobs are assembled with more reason than to simply break up a boring day. Smart Mobs, although assembled primarily with technology like PDA's and cell phones, are reminiscint of old fashioned protests or assemblies arranged through mail, flyers or convention. Smart mobs are arranged primarily for political or social awareness or gain, and not simply for art or breaking up a city's monotony. On Wikipedia it says that in the Phillipines they think smart mobbing via text messages may be actually responsible for ousting a president. That amazes me.

Melissa talks about how her job and those of her friends actually use technology like AIM and texting to forward their meetings and arrange the workplace.

Basically, it's pretty cool that entire groups of people can be brought together, if only momentarily, to experience and stand for one thing together. It's a great kind of unity to see. I think that unlike Cyndi says, these types of mobs are here to stay, if not only as political agendas or forms of art, but as ways of organising all different types of conventions.


E-mail and Blogs and Aggregators, Oh My!

Well, well, it was only a matter of minutes it seems, until E-Mail became old news. Everyone's once upon a time exciting new way of communicating feels like stone age with newer, more effecient things like blogs to keep us in touch.

Email can be annoying. It seems that daily I receive about 15 pornographic or advertisement emails (aka "Spam", and not the meat in a can.) , and only maybe 2 emails that I am actually looking forward to reading.

I use two different email addresses. One of which is run by MSN Hotmail and the other by Google G-Mail. I have had the G-Mail account for less time, but now that I have been on MSN for years, spammers seems to have solidly discovered my email and they send me crap by the thousands. G-mail is a bit better, it seems (so far) to filter out most junk and not clutter my inbox. It also handily features a "search" function, which helps to eliminate the trouble that Michelle brings up, about having too many emails and not being able to find a specific one in the shuffle.

As handy as that is, however, better things like Weblogs are around to keep us organised. They're nice, because spam cannot attach itself to your posts. They also include itemized lists in the form of table of contents as well as a handy frame holding other interesting links for the readers to check out. Also, without all of the hassle of sending a mass email, an employer (or personal blogger) can simply post up an entry and tell others to log on and take a look. No memorising a long contacts list, no trouble.

Elizabeth points out the very good point that companies can benefit from seemingly free exposure to potential clients through search engines like Yahoo! and Google, which pick up words written and categorise them for people to check out. Nicole mentions that blogs are like online diaries, which is true and also adds some extra interest in reading them. It is unconventional (although I suppose with more and more use it will become convention) and is easy to keep a reader interested.

Also, the potential for images and things that dont necessarily have to be attachments and downloaded like in email is very enticing.

All in all, I will not abandon email (especially for things that are personal and you are not trying to share with the world) just yet, but do enjoy Blogs and certainly see their many, many advantages in the workplace and at home.


Made in the What Now?!

This article, originally printed in Harper's Bazaar, talks about our command and control economy.

The entire time I was reading this article, two things kept running through my head.

First, the idea that the bag I am carrying right now says that it is primarily "wool" and that it is "Made in England" with the trim being "Made in France" and the whole being "Assembled in England". That seems like a lot of participation to me. I've noticed this on quite a few things, however. I mean, I actually purchased this particular bag in London, but I have many items that I have bought in the good ol' USA that have similar labels. It seems commonplace to see "Made in Italy", "Assembled in China", or variations thereof.

It's very funny. I also remember a time, less now, but more so a few years back when it was all Buy USA! and there were all these American flag stickers stuck to clothing and items in stores, wouldn't it be funny if those labels said Made in the USA, with some small print that said "....and China, and Taiwan, and Japan...." Seems about time.

Other than this, I thought about outsourcing. About how the last time I called a support hotline and a man with a heavy Indian accent answered and both he and I had trouble understanding each other and moving along. The article cites Dell computers, which I think may be the company I called that day, and it seems totally crazy. Not only are the different parts of the actual computers manufactured in multiple companies (continents even!) but the actual telemarketers and customer service reps are working in random countries (usually India) as well.

Haha - I saw this on Melissa's blog - which I thought was hilarious, and totally goes along with my thoughts on outsourcing:

""· “More than 30,000 employees at Indian call centers, among whom Radhika becomes Ruth and Satish becomes Steve, are told to adopt American names and say they are calling from a U.S. city in order to put their American customers at ease.· Their training includes a smattering of U.S. history and geography, along with speech therapy so that they will sound "American." Some call centers are adorned with American flags to give a cultural feel to the place.· Despite creating "an American ambience" by feeding his workers Coke and pizzas on weekends and making them watch two Hollywood movies every week, many in his firm cannot fully comprehend what Americans say.· And "the incident occurred while at Macy's Thanksgiving parade," became "the incident occurred while Macy was giving thanks to the parade."""

It seems to me that by producing our goods all over the world and with multiple companies relying on external sources that it could set us up for bad things. I mean, the point was made by Lynn about the fact that many companies rely on similar outsources, and what if a group of outsourced labourers strikes or there is a natural disaster that wipes the company out? I mean, theoretically it may shut down heavy production in more than one company. Granted, this all helps the economies of some of these other countries by supplying jobs and bringing USA big business to their small cities, but what is it doing to business in general? Problems like these are discussed nicely by Imbar also.

Globalisation looks better on paper than it does in life. It feels - to me, at least - like the US is taking advantage of these people from less fortunate countries because it is less expensive for ourselves.

I don't know, but there are certainly advantages and disadvantages. Most importantly the risk of being cut off from suppliers. September 11th caused a whole lot of this hoopla shutting down US borders and thus cutting off certain aspects of supply companies. I mean, granted, I doubt we, the consumers, will ever run out of Dell computers if a factory in India burns down, but the company itself will certainly lose money, and their production and timely creation of new products will absolutely suffer.

So, I guess the big question is how do we feel about this treatment of global production? And is the "money" that these companies are saving worth it compared to potential downfalls?

(although I must say - without this fine and dandy Dell laptop I am typing upon right now, I would not have been able to even take this class!)


Nodes, Continued.

  • I could only find myself quoted in Stephanie Carino's blog - thanks, Stephanie for quoting me! (Us Stephanie's gotta stick together). So, with a bit more blog trudging I dug up my name in Semhar and Nicole's blogs.
  • I have blogged to a total of 9 people so far.
    They are:
    Nicole, Sarah, Danielle, Melissa, Katie, Sunny, Rosalyn, Lyneve and Gage.
  • The most popular links being Sarah, Melissa and I chose Gage.
  • The only one that has linked me in return is Nicole.
  • I am most popular in the blog entries of Stephanie Carino - I appear twice in her blog.

So, I didn't shove all of this into my diagram but I hope that my notes here help.

Neato Nodes


Say What?

I like Nicole's baseball theory, but I relate more to media so this structure actually reminded me of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, funnily enough.

At first, we start out with a hub, perhaps being Bacon himself. The people that are closest to him at first are the people that are actually working in the same movie he is. The theory of betweenness that Sarah puts nice and simply, works well with the people nearest to Kevin Bacon. For instance, Sarah states that the closer together people actually are the less time it takes for a message to be translated and understood. Like, if Kevin Bacon is filming "Sleepers" and he says to Brad Pitt that he likes his sandwiches cold, it could take Brad Pitt a bit longer to relay that message to another node than it did for Kevin to say it directly to Brad - perhaps to Courteney Cox Arquette, whom he will visit as a guest star on "Friends", who can inform Neve Campbell, her "Scream" costar, so that on the set of "Wild Things" she can make sure to pass along to the caterer that her costar, Kevin Bacon, does not like his lunch heated.

The fact that the caterer is on the end of the kite chain, and maybe not involved as closely in the group of costars (and perhaps friends, because Brad Pitt is married to Jennifer Aniston, who is Courteney Cox's best friend after all - so maybe Jennifer is very well informed about Kevin Bacon's eating habits), but they are equally important. The idea that the more network connections the better is silly when you think about it, because often the person with the most friends or confidants within a company is completely less informed than the mailroom gossip that hears and knows everyone's business.

There has to be someone to initiate the group and control it, of course, but there has to be someone to listen and pass on the information too, or else it is useless.

However, it is very true that if one of the nodes falls off, especially those farther out on the chain, the message can be lost and never properly voiced. If Neve Campbell decides that "Wild Things" is too racy for her next career move and drops the movie, then she doesn't get to tell that particular caterer about Kevin's issues and the message is stopped in its tracks.

But there are also many ways the message can be relayed safely. Like, while on the "Friends" set, Brad may have said the information aloud, which means that Matthew Perry may have heard it too, and told Neve Campbell on the "Three to Tango" set, and she proceeded to "Wild Things", or maybe Brad Pitt skipped the whole shebang and told Marcia Gay Harden on "Meet Joe Black", who said to Kevin while making "Mystic River" that he should inform his own caterers from now on and stop the whole shebang!

Okay! Phew! Now don't take my babbling about Kevin Bacon's meal plans to heart, because I don't officially know what he prefers for lunch - I myself, am not involved in the network that would hear about Kevin Bacon's sandwich, or perhaps I am - maybe I'm just waiting for it to catch up with my far, far degree on the chain. Who knows?! But, basically, this one was interesting and I hope I've made sense of it.



ARGH! I hate Blogger! Again, my post has mysteriously disappeared. Okay, I'm going to calm down and apologise for this now being late, and me being less coherant, I'm sure, because I am so tired.

Okay - I wasn't in the class, but I've been looking around on helpful students blogs fpr assistance like, Danielle and Melissa's.

Okay, from what I gather, networks are not things like NBC but rather languages and consist not of TV programs, but people, that make up a culture.

Networks are big, as big as the entire English (or Spanish, or French, or German....) language, but can contain mininetworks inside them that can be as small as two friends with a secret code, or even one person with a cunning gibberish password on their computer. Networks are made up of slang, subcodes, words, symbols, numbers, technical jargon and everything else involved in language all smushed together to form speech.

They can also be very big, overlapping with other networks easily. Networks can share slang, share words, even understand each other from time to time, weaving in and out.

I, myself, would, for example, consider myself part of a large network that is "English" but also a member of smaller networks like "American English", I can also overlap into understanding "British English", Dabbling once in a while in a working knowledge of "American Sign Language" which is totally different, mind you from the network than the folks that perform "British Sign". I can reside in networks as small as the fake words my friends and I make up, and our realm of "inside jokes". Outside of my network, I can visit the Spanish network, being nearly fluent, and once in while enter the "Italian" network, which I learned as a child, though barely remember.

Basically, networks = language. "No" in English = "No" in Spanish, meaning the networks overlap, but "Yes" is not "Si" and so we are reminded that the two are still very different.

In conclusion, this is what I gathered from the whole thing, I'm hoping I've grasped it sufficiently. Now, I MUST go to bed. I'm bloody knackered! Oops - I mean, I'm really tired! ;)


Weaver & Shannon

The Shannon Weaver model is interesting and I always assumed unchanging. I've always figured that since we study it so extensively in every course, it is a page from the communications bible. Which, I know it is, but, like people may argue about the actual Bible, the model is up to interpretation.

Two people that have similar ideas to Shannon and Weaver, but their own twists and additions, are Ferdinand de Sassure and Roman Jakobson.

Sassure brought up that all languages are run on signs and symbols. That a pen is not a pen unless the person connects the word "pen" with the blue ink filled thing they are writing with. The thing that they are writing with could very easily be called a "dog" if someone had learned it as the proper term. Or, depending on language, there is no doubt in a Spanish speaking person's mind that "papel" means that white thing that comes from trees and you can write on, but an English speaking person with no knowledge of Spanish could be unable to get past the word "paper".

On this note, even in the same language symbols could not always match up. I have a friend, that within the dialect she speaks refers to her friends as "son", which is sort of "street English", so the friend that she sees makes perfect sense associated with that word, and the person that I see might make more sense with the word "dude".

Which brings me to Jakobson. He says that people need subcodes. Languages may be the same, but slang for example, is ever changing, and two people from different cultures can have a whole conversation with no clue what the other side is saying. I like Sarah Doolin's comparison between American English and British English.

I am an American, but I lived and went to school for a part of my life in London. Although I lived there, and had adopted some of the slang, there were still times when I would be talking to a friend and they would say a sentence or word that I just didn't understand. Like, I look down at my legs, I see that I am wearing "pants", my British friend sees her legs and says "trousers". Both of these words are perfectly acceptable in both British English and American English, however, without a subtext, I would not realise that their word "trousers" does not, in fact, mean a pair of dress pants (like in the US) but could mean just jeans, or sweats. And without explanation or a basic understanding of American language, the British person would think that I was talking about my undergarments when I said "pants" and certainly be shocked if I told her that was the only thing I was wearing out that day. Subcodes are definetly a necessary addition to our culture, and without them, the Shannon Weaver model would be unsuccessful.

Danielle (who, I just noticed is from a part of Connecticut near to my hometown) makes an interesting comment about college roommates - even a roommate from another state or town could have a different set of signifiers and the two of you would have to establish a subcode. And once you involve technology - subcodes become totally dire in keeping up with wording used on programs like AOL Instant Messenger.

I still, however, think that Shannon and Weaver are very important. It is always important to expand upon and revamp these theories, though.

All in all, everything is relative. (and not like a grandma - which perhaps is your personal sign for relative.) :)