Like classrooms, online communities can be structured to make thinking conscious, deliberate, clear and focused on needed outcomes. However, to get there, virtual communities require intentional dialogue leadership. For that, communications specialists must study the ways to organize and arrange interaction patterns, so they may outline a productive structuring of their time and energy. While participatory media is sought out to modestly inform audiences, it must not be confused with broadcast media—it’s social. In the attached report, I explain important online behaviors for school public relations, those that help enable community thinking. Continue reading
Category Archives: Research
Reflection on Critical Thinking, 21st Century Intellect
“Critical thinking” recently topped a Forbes list covering important job skills for the 21st century, suggesting employers are looking for candidates who “use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems” (Casserly, 2012).
As Socrates opined, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” We must constantly re-examine our beliefs, and identify when remaining intellectually honest requires us to accept contrary opinions. We must represent a genuine curiosity for other’s belief systems.
We’re already highly collaborative today. Every day, more than 500 terabytes of data is sent to Facebook, with the processing of text, photos and videos (Facebook, 2012). Twitter’s microblogging platform receives 12 terabytes daily (Naone, 2010). Actively and passively, we’re creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day – 90 percent of the world’s data was created within the last couple of years. (IBM, 2013). Continue reading
Collaborative Media: What’s Wrong With Social Media, How We Might Fix It?
Through innovation, creative people attempt to solve unmet consumer needs. Design thinking is the process of reviewing user experiences with products and services, uncovering implicit gaps causing frustration, and then pointing toward new approaches (Kaufman & Sternberg, 2010, pp. 161-162). In reviewing trends in emerging media, I applied the seven steps in creative problem solving: assess a situation, explore a vision, formulate challenges, explore ideas, formulate solutions, explore acceptance and formulate a plan (Puccio, Mance, & Murdock, 2010, p. 71). Social media’s history and evolution covers a relatively brief period in human existence, but it’s a couple of decades that witnessed massive developments in consumer technologies. It’s time for innovators to reflect on how it might better serve society.
Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. Ninety percent of the world’s data was created within the last couple of years (2013). In the year 2000, we stored roughly 800,000 petabytes, or 0.8 zettabytes (Zikopoulos, Eaton, Deroos, Deutsch, & Lapis, 2011, p. 5). Researchers expect our storage to reach 35 zettabytes by 2020. Simple morning routines are filling storage devices in tons of ways. Data is created when you turn off your smartphone’s alarm, enter an expressway toll road, buy a cup of coffee and access a secure building. Much of the produced information is rarely analyzed, if at all. Continue reading
What’s wrong with social media, and how might we fix it? Continue reading
Offline Behaviors Online
Why do people do what they do, online?
There are numerous motivations behind the behaviors people exhibit in participatory media. Many follow long-held concepts that scientists recognize as common among all nations. In a survey of national cultures, sociologists in the mid 20th century highlighted three key issues imposing consequences on the integrity of societies (Inkeles & Levinson, 1997, pp. 45-51): relation to authority, conception of self, primary dilemmas and conflicts, and ways of dealing with them. Building on that milestone in culture-personality literature, Geert Hofstede published a highly-praised study that identified the values of people dealing with common problems, covering more than 50 countries. Hofstede’s conclusions were strikingly similar (Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 2010, p. 30). I’ll review their central themes, as they relate to online behaviors. Continue reading
Social media: Globalized material culture
A growing number of people around the world are participating in online social media platforms, where floods of information are eroding barriers once imposed by national borders, religious convictions and governmental pressures. Nearly 4 out of 5 active Internet users visit online social networks and blogs, according to Nielsen (2011a). In business transactions, purchase decisions today rely more on consumer ratings and reviews than company sales pitches (Nielsen, 2011b). People are collaborating online about issues ranging from spending a dollar to the enforcement of policies. While sharing opinions in virtual venues, they’re rewriting definitions for socially acceptable beliefs, principles and activities. Mankind is distilling a kaleidoscope of data, discarding some elements, while debating and merging others. Controversial topics in online communities often explore concepts relevant to all of humanity, thereby programming minds with instructions formulated from a collective conscious. Social media is a participatory technology that’s rapidly consuming data, mixing ideas and homogenizing cultures. Continue reading
Humans evolving for violence: Genetics and culture
Around the world, humans are exhibiting a great capacity for compassion and social progress, as well as an equally grand tendency for cruelty. With advancements in material culture, our struggles for survival have become exceedingly more complex and unified and violent. According to the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development (Geneva Declaration Secretariat 2011), a Switzerland-based diplomatic initiative that identifies interrelations between global violence and development, more than 526,000 people die violently each year, of which 396,000 are the result of intentional homicides. One-quarter of those deaths occurred in only 14 countries, where average annual violent death rates exceed 30 per 100,000. Armed violence in non-conﬂict countries is sometimes more dangerous than combat zones. According to the Geneva Declaration (2011), while U.S.-led coalition troops fought in Iraq between 2004 and 2009, more people per capita were killed in El Salvador. The United Nations (2011) reports some countries have revealed decreased homicide rates in the past 15 years – mainly in Asia, Europe and North America – but their data also shows increases in others (p. 9). Central America and the Caribbean are nearing a “crisis point” (p. 10). Humankind’s constant, sometimes alarming, fluctuations in community homicides has resulted in scientific hypotheses concerning clashes between internal and external environments. Recent research suggests our DNA holds instructions for reacting violently to environmental stress. Continue reading
Earth’s last language?
For millions of years, humans have mastered climate change and maximized environmental resources to arise as one of the planet’s most adaptable organisms. For hundreds of thousands of years, Homo sapiens have created material culture that’s made it possible to occupy nearly every corner of the Earth. For decades, the species has embarked on extraterrestrial exploration, including the dispatch of a planet-hunting spacecraft capable of picking through countless stars outside our solar system (Thompson 2009). Our collective human intellect combines ideas from around the world. This collaboration has given birth to a powerful economic, political, cultural and environmental phenomenon, called globalization. Globalization is the blending of cultures and commerce through complex innovations. For example, advances in telecommunication technologies are connecting businesses, consumers, scholars and activists. Innovations in automation and computerization are promoting universal standards for efficiency and sustainability. Common sets of communication skills and devices are required for sharing complex concepts. There is a growing momentum for combining languages. Scientists and mathematicians have adopted Arabic numerals for mastering and sharing concepts; it seems we’ll merge vocabularies and grammar too. Continue reading
Fundamentalists in social media
In a globalized media landscape, the concepts of religious fundamentalism and legislative rights seem to be clashing in similar sacred places, online. Virtual battles between beliefs are occurring within contradictions in public policies and moral values. Resistance to change is sometimes expressed through various kinds of fundamentalism, when interpretations of one’s faith consumes them. Religious leaders and adamant atheists have been spreading their values for thousands of years, and many work passionately to preserve them. Extremists have committed violent attacks, while other fundamentalists recited scriptures and laws encouraging tolerance and upholding civil rights, whenever barraged by adversity. Social media has become a powerful platform for hosting both collaboration and disagreements. Continue reading
Africa: The Internet’s final frontier
The Internet is continuing to exert a significant social and economic impact in populations on each of Earth’s continents. The World Wide Web has been changing the way people learn and collaborate since August 1991, when the first website published information explaining hypertext and Web page architecture (Blum, 2011). The Web has persisted in paving virtual highways between people around the world – some sitting thousands of miles apart, others in the same room. But what about those populations that aren’t connected? Africa, the world’s second-largest and second most populated continent in the world, has only 118 million people online, just 11.5 percent of the people – well below the world’s average of 30 percent.
People who are connected are no longer bound by geographical boundaries, separated by political limitations or divided by religious beliefs. Unrestricted access to the Internet allows anyone to rally worldwide compassion for charities, organize populations for global initiatives and conduct international business transactions. According to recent research from the McKinsey Global Institute, e-commerce accounts for the exchange of almost $8 trillion each year. The Internet has accounted for 21 percent of the gross domestic product growth in “matured countries” for more than five years. A McKinsey global Small and Medium Enterprise survey discovered the Internet created 2.4 jobs for each one it destroyed during the past 15 years (Manyika & Roxburgh, 2011). The Web has become an important driver for both economic growth and social progress. Continue reading