Tag Archives: Comcast

Social Networking == Social Division?

You would think after 20 years of the Web, we would come to a better understanding that it either helps us connect, or helps us segregate. You’d be wrong.

Following is some research and reading. But first…

What do you think? How diverse are the people you associate with as friends on Facebook or Twitter? Big range in class, race, religion, sex, age? Or are you judging diversity in terms of how many of your friends like Star Wars and Star Trek? If you’re a liberal, how many conservatives? If you’re a conservative, how many liberals? Libertarians? DC versus Marvel? Spiderman versus Twilight? Protestant versus Catholic versus Jewish versus Muslim?

I work in a career that smashes many of these distinctions, except four I can think of (more on that in a bit). There is a wide variety to religious practice, sources of entertainment, favorite music, and political leanings (although there is a libertarian streak). Programmers, as a whole are all very diverse in these areas. Our online social networks reflect this.

Now on to the four ares where we are far too much alike – class, age, sex, and race. Programmers tend to come from middle class households, be mid-twenties to mid-thirties, male (and heterosexual-male at that), and white, middle-eastern, or asian. And yes, our online social networks reflect this as well.

Me and many of my contemporaries fool ourselves into thinking we’re diverse – but you have to agree – those four are rather a *big* four. If we live in environments that are half women and half black, how come our online social networks and our workplaces do not reflect that?

In the end, I tend not to believe that social networking leads to social division or helps to bring people who are different together. I think it simply reflects our reality all too well. My hope is it doesn’t reinforce it. That what we are building will lead us towards greater connection with one another, no matter where we come from, no matter who we are.

Now onto the links:

danah boyd: “The Not-So-Hidden Politics of Class Online” PDF 2009: we’re seeing a social media landscape where participation “choice” leads to a digital reproduction of social divisions.

Joshua-Michéle Ross: Three Paradoxes of the Internet Age – Part One:
More access to information doesn’t bring people together, often it isolates us.

Joshua-Michéle Ross: Three Paradoxes of the Internet Age – Part Two: Individual perception of increased choice can occur while the overall choice pool is getting smaller

Joshua-Michéle Ross: Three Paradoxes of the Internet Age – Part Three: The myth of personal empowerment takes root amidst a massive loss of personal control.

NYTimes: David Brooks: Cellphones, Texts and Lovers: People are thus thrown back on themselves. They are free agents in a competitive arena marked by ambiguous relationships. Social life comes to resemble economics, with people enmeshed in blizzards of supply and demand signals amidst a universe of potential partners.

Pew Research: Social Isolation and New Technology : People’s use of the mobile phone and the internet is associated with larger and more diverse discussion networks. And, when we examine people’s full personal network – their strong and weak ties – internet use in general and use of social networking services such as Facebook in particular are associated with more diverse social networks.

These are connected: Future of Journalism Links and Communication for September 23, 2009

Ethan Zuckerman covered a Clay Shirky talk given at the Shorenstein Center” on journalism today and its future. It’s an absolute must read for media/info/com future thinkers: “Clay Shirky and accountability journalism”.

Mark Bowden traces the path a story takes, from political operatives, thru social media, to mainstream news, in the The Atlantic piece“The Story Behind The Story”. Another must read.

Paul Graham: Post-Medium Publishing. Slashdot thread.

Mathew Ingram: Micropayments for news: The holy grail or just a dangerous delusion?

The Atlantic: The Rise of the Professional Blogger

And finally, Timothy Egan attacks an entire subset of the population for their passion based on a lack of facts, missing the point that he is working for a member of the industry that has a role in that: “Working Class Zero”

Yesterday’s Comcast Cares

Yesterday was quite a day. In the morning I went out with fellow co-workers to Hunting Park to help do some clean up and planting for Comcast Cares Day. It was a small personal victory for me. Previous two years I haven’t been able to attend due to the back pain issue. This year, not only could I attend, but I was able to assist for a few hours. There are pictures up on Flickr. Felt great to go out and lend a helping hand with fellow friends.

Open Source Rich Internet Application Framework at CIM: OpenPyro

Check it out: OpenPyro: OpenPyro is a pure AS3 framework for creating RIA’s. Open Pyro draws a lot of inspiration from Flex but aims to be more expressive as well as have a smaller filesize and memory footprint.

Arpit Mathur, one of the most brilliant developers I know and a straight up Flash guru is leading the Open Pyro project. He recently posted about OpenPyro on his personal blog and includes a screencast of him using the framework to develop an app.

Kevin Fitzpatrick another CIM Flash master, and lead developer of another open source project at CIM, LogBook, comments about OpenPyro.

“crippled by their own process”

Coding Horor: “Is Eeyore Designing Your Software?”:

Here’s my honest question: does open source software need all that process to be successful? Isn’t the radical lack of process baggage in open source software development not a weakness, but in fact an evolutionary advantage? What open source software lacks in formal process it makes up ten times over in ubiquity and community. In other words, if the Elbonians feel so strongly about localization, they can take that effort on themselves. Meanwhile, the developers have more time to implement features that delight the largest base of customers, instead of plowing through mountains of process for every miniscule five line code change.

Are large commercial software companies crippled by their own process?

I’d say that in large corporations, I’ve seen many internal projects beat down by the same.

The new portal architecture at CIM doesn’t suffer from this, but the old one certainly did. We’ve come a long way.