Monthly Archives: July 2008

PhD Educational Technology

So I am thinking I need to get my PhD mind-set back on track.

It’s been too long “off the boil” and now is a probably a good time to start working towards formalising more thoughts. I’m in a place where I can more than likely establish strong connections with study and professional practise.

My Masters is in the field of Educational Technology, specifically focussed on distance learning, and my PhD is likely to also be in a similar field, though possibly slanted with a little curvature towards non-educational environments too.

PhDs are not for the faint hearted, but my heart is strong and this is a challenge for me, not for you. I think it is very important to understand that, you know, the reasons we embark on journeys, what are the motivators, what is the point?

Understanding motivational reasons for study can in fact help you discover a great deal about yourself. For example study for me is basically concerned with two key motivators.

Positive Psychology: Others Perception

Here is the second in your series of Positive Psychology (I’m experimenting ok?), the first is here.

Write a sentance about how you would like others to view or see you. What qualities would you like others to see in you?

Here is mine:

I’d like people to perceive me as an educated and fair minded person, someone who invests a sense of realism in his projects yet at the same time is able to enjoy the free run of creativity and not be judged to harshly for that.

Now your turn.

F*ck Google Ask Me

But stop and think for a second, is this the mentality that Social Media is promoting?

Do not get me wrong, having advice from your friends is useful, but how much objectivity do your friends bring, do you have friends whom are brutally honest with you?

Just curious..

Then again, how much objectivity does Google provide you?

Positive Psychology: How People View You

OK, let’s have some fun over a series of posts.

State 5 things you feel people see you as, don’t ask anyone, just be honest and state what you feel they think about you, here are mine:

  1. Musical
  2. Creative
  3. Commanding
  4. Moody
  5. Generous

Of course that list could go on and on, but I didn’t think hard about it, just right off the top of my head.

And you?

Rockstar Disambiguation

Have you heard the term “Rockstars” used time and time again in relation to people on the Internet, particularly in the social media scene?

You have?

Me too, and you know what, it pisses me off no end. So this is my disambiguation post to state the use is plainly wrong when applied to wannabe practitioners of user generated content.

Terribly sorry people but if you want to know what a real Rockstar is watch this video.

If you have Rockstar needs go learn to play guitar, snort some coke and practise your stage diving, oh and pick up some tattoos on the way.

In the words of Scott Weiland (he’s the singer above) “don’t attempt to stand in a man’s shoes when you haven’t walked his path”

Scott’s history

How do you feel about the phrase?

Social Media Club: Devils Advocate

Apparently I have been nominated to be on the Social Media Club Interim Board.

I’m not really into begging for votes, or asking for the popularity contest cup, in fact I detest that. However, this might be a really good thing to be included in from a devil’s advocate stance.

If you read my blog semi-regularly you’ll know I am one of those who likes to probe and seek some proof and sense of balance, particularly in social media circles. Fact is I am not a fan of evangelising in any niche at all, I find that self-perpetuating nonsense to be very dangerous and lacking in critical analysis.

SO, if you think I’d bring a balanced view to this area and would be of use as a sobering force, please do go ahead and vote me in, I’d relish challenging some of the evangelists, balance is needed in order to bring about a strong group of thinkers, you always need balance.

Vote for Hambly

Thanks

Ideological Amplification

Humans are innately biased, fact is we cannot help it, we simply prefer to be in situations where we do not feel like the odd one out, we seem programmed to flock to like-minded groups. This is not anything ground-breaking or new, it’s a basic human trait.

Some typical examples of like-minded groups include:

  • any religion
  • football fan
  • the mafia
  • social media evangelists

I used that list in a presentation/session I led at MediaCampLondon and I’m sure you’ll agree, before we dig deeper, that most “specialised” groups or niches do exhibit similar personalities, or group thinking. For a rugby team to excel there needs to be a team mission, a team work-ethic, a cluster of similarity, or a company philosophy, policy. For the police force to work the individual soldiers much share a common belief of law enforcement.

So what can we call the glue in these “packs”, “tribes” “groups”, “fan bases”? What term describes this commonality of behaviour, the mind-fuck of similarity? What is it then that Chris Brogan the Pied Piper of social media evangelises, what is it that Lloyd Davis the Tart of Tuttle encourages you to love, what is it that Will McInnes the Madman of Metrics and Measurement propagates, and what is it Chris Hambly the Don of the Social Media Mafia challenges you with? – Ideological Amplification is what.

Ideological Amplification is when a belief within a tribe (niche) becomes the “norm” or “accepted” and often “expected” and is then exponentially amplified among its members. – chris hambly

If you think for a moment, all tribes have leaders, this is age-old theory, and from that a vision or a broad ideology born. When loyal members join a particular tribe it is that vision that is then perpetuated, amplified and encouraged to the expense of a nearby tribe – to an extent. Chelsea fans are not in any way waving the ideology flag of Liverpool, for example. Or David Cameron’s flock will always seek ammunition to unbalance the arguments of Gordon Brown. These frictional moments and engagements may be unstated, may even take place unwittingly as part of the ideology but they DO occur.

Marketing

Many years ago merchants would tout their business wares in the village market, typically to small groups, small tribes, the merchants could operate a very specific marketing message to a known demographic. When scaling was made possible through technological developments such as printed materials, and more recently radio and television, marketing moved into a more broad-based model where above the line blanket-bombing tactics become the norm, and still are, shear numbers became the model.

The Internet now affords the rapid establishment of tribal theories once again, marketing droids (I include myself in that definition) are once again taking an interest in niche tribes, the “power” of a niche ideology, or they SHOULD be.

You see, for a marketing person we want our products to be discussed, we want the goodness, the buzz, the positive aspects to be ideologically amplified by the tribe. Steve Jobs’s gang do this for him daily. Steve’s long-term brand (generational) has a fiercely loyal pack of dogs, whom will enthuse and die at the gates of computer heaven before switching brands.

But even new brands to the game can now take advantage of ideological amplification, because The Internet facilitates rapid tribal community building. Never before have we been able to seek and find like-minded people, never before have we been able to run shoulders with vast amounts of people who bolster own own perception of an ideology.

Let’s look at more theory.

Thomas Schelling

1971, he published a widely cited article dealing with racial dynamics called “Dynamic Models of Segregation”. In this paper he showed that a small preference for one’s neighbours to be of the same colour could lead to total segregation. He used coins on graph paper to demonstrate his theory by placing pennies and nickels in different patterns on the “board” and then moving them one by one if they were in an “unhappy” situation.

The positive feedback cycle of segregation – prejudice – in-group preference can be found in most human populations, with great variation in what are regarded as meaningful differences — gender, age, race, ethnicity, language, sexual preference, religion, etc. Once a cycle of separation-prejudice-discrimination-separation has begun, it has a self-sustaining momentum.

source: wikipedia.

Dangerous stuff…

Once a cycle of separation-prejudice-discrimination-separation has begun, it has a self-sustaining momentum.”

This is what some theorists might call “going viral”, I actually prefer to call this pathological, I find it dangerous, sure for a marketing person it can be golden, but and what expense?

So what are we supporting here with social media adoption?

  • Increase of niche gangs

- as I’ve stated, never before have we been able to seek out such vast extremes of ideology in one place. On the Internet there are no mechanical forces preventing us to segregate, we have no house to sell, we are free to indulge in our extremism.

  • Disdain for “mainstream”which actually forces us to segregate, isn’t that good? – mainstream channels DO force us to listen, watch and be presented with multiple view points. Newspapers cover a variety of themes which may draw you, something which your niche may not, ever.
  • Adoption of tribal mentalities, actually enthused, embraced, encouraged. – Leaders will evangelise, as the Don of Social Media Mafia I do want the members to critically analysis social media, rip it up, question it, find proof, examine it, uncover theory. Chris Brogan doesn’t ask this of you, he enjoys the “magic” of it. Will McInnes will want you to find metrics, he wants an industry model, he wants something to bolster and give credibility to his products. Lloyd Davis want you to socialise in public spaces and sing his anthem of Tuttle. Makes no difference what the niche is, we are all selfish and pimping our own ideologies, and if you do not roughly come into line with that, you are marginally ostracised. Debatable, but I challenge you.
  • Polarisation, amazon, knows what you like every time, you are profiled. – for each click we make on the internet we are then profiled into a category one step further, for each and every cookie and derivative of YOUR choices are made narrower. You will not be displayed products which you are never likely to buy.
  • Additional views which support your views add to your perception of correct, or right. – If you sing hallelujah to the ideology of the group, the remaining participants will praise you, pat you on the back, thus further entrenching the ideology, thus further amplifying it.

Critical analysis skills are taught at 3rd year in the UK University system, and even then it is only the beginning, critical analysis and stepping out of your tribe takes balls, courage and a willingness to argue. This skill is not something we are born with, it takes practise and lots of it.

And that is where the problem lies for me, a serious lacking in critical skills within social media, a fundamental flaw in the system, cult-like blind faith is fucking dangerous, and there will be ferocious venomous spitting when opposing extremes come together.

Look at any war, it is no different… treat your tribe with caution, tread carefully before you preach for you may be amplifying an ideology which is in fact marginalising and segregating.

I will talk about “bridges” at a later date.

UPDATE: 13.07.08 – So what do YOU think, am I being harsh, do you not agree, or do you sense some of this in yourself, what’s on your mind after reading this?

Vanity Picture

Here is a picture of me which I really like.


Am I vain? Yeah probably, so what, besides can’t you see my rippling muscles?

Anyway this was shot by Benjamin Ellis, at MediaCampLondon.

Ben is a great bloke whom I make time to listen to, he thinks forwards and has vision, and is also someone who takes really fucking good pictures, I could learn a lot from him.