Finding Sanity in the Madness

Exploring Social Media

Radian6: Awesome April 10, 2011

Filed under: Research,Social Media — karch10k @ 5:49 pm
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For the Tech 621 course this year, our final project tasks us with utilizing Radian6 to conduct research with social media. What is Radian6, you might wonder. I’ll tell you what Radian6 is: awesome. Doing research with and about social media isn’t exactly a new concept, nor is it completely easy. Radian6 is an interface that runs in your browser that allows you to become a social media researching master! Radian6 is described as:

Radian6 gives you a complete platform to listen, measure and engage with your customers across the entire social web”.

For the purpose of this course, we aren’t doing any engaging, or at least not what I would call engaging, but we are definitely listening, and measuring data on our various topics. We also have access to this tool for free during this semester, which is quite the discount from the normal going price (around $600 per month for the lowest setup). To have access to this tool is amazing.

So far, using the tool with very limited direction has proven to be like any other new interface/program. Frustrating in the very beginning due to not getting the results I thought I should be getting (bias?) to sheer excitement when I finally started narrowing down my topic, reading into some of the trends/timelines/etc. The interface as a whole is relatively simple, and once I got used to it, I felt it was quite intuitive. I can search and sort by media types, I can gather timelines, I can see top influencers on a topic, and even slice and dice my data until my hearts content. Once I narrow everything down, I can then also choose individual posts, comments, or Tweets, and read them for further detail if I wish. The power of a tool such as this seems vast, if not limitless. I have a shot of the interface to give a glimpse of what I have been working on for my project:

If you are looking for more information on Radian6, I would suggest checking out their website or read this post by Jason Falls at social media explorer for some comparative (but mostly talking up Radian6, detailing some interesting features).


Vicious Circle March 30, 2011

Filed under: Behaviors,Theory,Uncategorized — karch10k @ 12:10 am
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One of the discussions we are currently having is about our first article by Jackson Carr. We have somehow gone deeper into theoretical ideas that deal with technology, and they create an ever contradicting vicious circle.

Technological Determinism vs. Human Agency

Exploring this argument is an effort in futility to find a clear answer. It would seem the best answer lies (at least for me) somewhere in the middle. Technology is either controlling us and we are helpless to do anything but give into it’s grasp, or we have free will, and will do what we please with technology; changing it and molding it to our own will without consideration to the current boundaries that exist.

I personally lie somewhere in between. I would almost argue that I am on BOTH sides as opposed to in the middle as well. I believe that we are bound to technology. We create technology with structure but also in the image we choose. This structure binds us to the rules we set for the technology, however. We will continually be forced to live by the structures we set for ourselves (Technological Determinism) but at the same time have the power to break the structure and change it to fit our own will (Human Agency).

We have to prescribe to the structures we create. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? I suppose one could get out of the structure all together, but then you will be falling forever into the digital divide.

So, what stance do you have? Do you conform, or do you break free? Are you in the middle? Do you agree with both? Either way, the circle will continue without you.


Research Area of Interest February 27, 2011

Filed under: Politics,Research,Social Media — karch10k @ 11:08 pm
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Recently I made a post regarding “Politics 2.0”. I am heavily leaning towards Government 2.0 as my area of research. This is fortunately a growing area of research and it combines two of my major interests. I have begun looking for articles and trying to narrow my focus here. The issue I am currently having is that this is relatively a new concept (utilizing web 2.0 tools with government).

A couple of the articles I have been reviewing sort of give an overview of some of the research questions I have about Government 2.0, as well as it’s implications.

I am going to attempt to narrow my research soon and make an additional blog post regarding how I intend to do so. I would be open to suggestions in this as well. Currently, much of the research I have found is about the channels used and how effective they were/are in measuring public opinion. As said, I am in the process of narrowing down and looking for future research suggestions.


Social Media Research Design

Filed under: Research,Social Media — karch10k @ 8:44 pm
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In reading a little recently, I came upon an article that was  discussing social media research. Typically in this course, we are talking about how social media can be used, and how it can be very beneficial. In this article, however, the author seems to discount research using social media.

While the author acknowledges the fact that social media outlets such as Twitter or Facebook can contain vast amount of information that deems investigation, she seems to also note that information being considered highly reliable from social media research is “pure nonsense”.

Interestingly enough, she refers to research on social media as “eavesdropping”.

This is a different point of view I have yet to read much about. The general feelings I read about social media research is exciting and very positive. It would be interesting to see the authors response in light of some of the research projects done with crowd sourcing, knowledge of crowds, etc, etc.

Could the author simply be caught in the past, or does she have some weight on her opinion?


Social Media Matters February 21, 2011

Filed under: Social Media — karch10k @ 3:31 pm

I decided to go to the Digital Surgeons blog and read some posts about social media. I can remember beginning this course and thinking that social media (more specifically Twitter) was just a bunch of people with nothing better to do than Tweet mindless chatter to each other. I understood that social media could be a powerful marketing tool, but never really understood the amount of influence it could have over companies or people in power.

If you consider the first article I read, it would seem that a Facebook “Like” goes a bit further than simply someone clicking a button to show interest. Apparently, the Facebook Like can tell the future! It is very interesting to think about how accurate the Facebook Like is when talking about the past elections. It makes sense though, as many younger aged people use Facebook, and many younger voters turned out to the past election.

The second article is about Gap (GAP?). We had discussed this earlier in the course, but I never really got a chance to actually see the new logo. Now, I find it very fascinating that a Facebook and Twitter outcry could change something as major as a logo for a company of this size. I also agree that the new proposed logo they chose was horrid. While I don’t think the original is all that great, the changed one does little to improve. What were they thinking?

I am sure there are other articles out there to support the idea that social media is a driving force for change in many ways, these are just a couple articles I read and found to be interesting. Social media continues to make large impacts in many areas, and I look forward to being present for the impacts it will make in the future!


Fear of Social Media February 20, 2011

Filed under: Behaviors,Social Media,Uncategorized — karch10k @ 9:36 pm
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Recently, we have been talking about social media adoption among many other topics, and during a random Wal Mart excursion of mine, I was thinking about social media adoption in regards to my parents, or perhaps their generation.

I have plenty of people I am Facebook friends with that are in my parents generation, but my own parents remain either indifferent or even fearful of this new technology. I find it interesting that my mother and father share different feelings on social media, and I question why they have the feelings they do.

My mother maintains a fear of social media. Once a brief member of Facebook, the moment someone posted a picture of her that she did not like, she quickly decided that she was A.) angry at that person for posting it, and B.) read to get off of Facebook ASAP. She never really liked the idea of sharing her personal information over the internet, and especially disliked all the attention she gained from being on Facebook. Should would complain to me about logging on and having so many notifications, it was just overwhelming. I think her entire social media experience lasted about a week. I was excited about her being on Facebook, but it does not surprise me that she jumped ship so soon. She is the type of person who is still very skeptical about buying anything or handling any type of monetary exchange online even.

I feel like my mother, and many others her age are part of this sort of social divide. Something similar to the digital divide. Many people her age are just left behind everyone else in terms of social media. I also think this might be actually the digital divide playing it’s own part here. My mother has never been particularly savvy with technology, and I suppose that social media is just a step too far for her.

I wish she were a bit more open to these new types of communication channels. I don’t foresee it happening any time soon, however.


AA #3: Politics 2.0 February 15, 2011

Filed under: Article Review,Politics,Social Media — karch10k @ 7:51 pm
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Being someone who has increasingly found politics more interesting (and enraging) I decided to see what sort of literature was out there regarding social media or web 2.0 (whatever that means, right?) with regards to politics. I knew that the internet presence of Barack Obama was one caveat of his campaign that experts credited him to for the success of his campaign. I fortunately found myself an article that is very close to what I was interested in.

Wattal, S., Schuff, D., Mandviwalla, M., Williams, C. B. (Forthcoming). Web 2.0 and Politics:  The 2008 U.S. Presidential Election and an E-Politics Research Agenda. Management Information Systems Quarterly (MISQ). Volume 34, Number 4, December 2010, pp. 669-688.

This link may not give you full access, as I had to find it through the Purdue Libraries under MIS Quarterly (Find them all in EBSCO Host Business I believe)

This empirical research covers the 2008 campaign with a wide range of media tools used from Myspace, Facebook, blogs, and even YouTube. It used 15 primary candidates for president over a 12 month period, starting in Feb 2007 through Jan 2008. The authors were interested in how web 2.0 can change the nature of competition in presidential campaigns as well as how the candidates utilizing them can affect voters.

I find the data presented to be very interesting here. It is hard to discount the idea that the internet won Obama an election, or played a major role in his success after reading some of this material. He dominated most aspects of usage of web 2.0 such as YouTube, blogs, Myspace, etc. Below is a snapshot from the article:

The idea that something like the internet can and has changed the way an entire process works like politics is extremely interesting to me. Not only does this have immediate ramifications, but the way politics currently work will never be the same. Additionally, they will be constantly changing with the newest technology that is being introduced each year. What new popular site will be dominating in five years? Will it be Twitter or Facebook still? Who knows?

In addition to web site visits, Obama is shown to dominate Myspace friends as well as YouTube views. I can remember him posting on YouTube regularly, and I think he still might.

As many know, the impact of polls is what will drive the political strategists. Part of the study done was to see the effect on the Gallup Polls when using various media. Blogs are (surprisingly) the only significantly associated medium at 0.05 with an increase/decrease. Below is the image:


This article hits a few main interested for me: Social media and politics. I feel there is much more than can be done with this research. It will be hard to get a large body of information on how web 2.0 practices and ideas can truly affect an election because

1.) they happen every four years; data in the information age is sparse

2.) social media and web 2.0 just became a game changer for the 2008 election

There are a couple issues with the paper, and they are mentioned in the future research section. The way that the information was gathered and the data sets need to be refined. How can you measure the effectiveness on something like social media/web 2.0 which is so huge with something like elections? The information you have to gather will be all different. If you are measuring how positively/negatively it can change a campaign, how do you separate the data apart from one another?

The study also only encompasses one election in one country. It would be interesting to see how this applies to other countries as well over multiple elections. You can’t truly measure the effectiveness of social media on all elections without more data.

How will social media change elections? Has has it? I like to think that this will be a continued topic over the next few years. It would be silly to think that in the 2012 election that the candidates will dismiss the power of the tool. I would very much like a topic in this area for further research, but would have to do some thinking about where I would want to take it. Perhaps something about how or why the Blogosphere is such a more dominant contributor to the Gallup polls.

Interesting stuff!