The Reverend Peter Gomes said that at my sister’s high school graduation and I still remember it today.
It is also still one of the best pieces of advice I have received.
Today, we all talk about our social networks and we tend to the constantly. From twitter to Facebook to LinkedIn to a blog, we are making connections. While these are valuable, face-to-face connections will always be even more so.
There is this interesting new group of connections being shaped, the friend or connection who turns from digital connection to physical connection. You start by chatting online or tweeting quips back and forth and then meet in person. It’s that in person part that is the most important part.
People are really only their true selves in person. That is the side of them you want to get to know. That is who you want to know. That face-to-face connection is meaningful and will end up being far more valuable than any twitter follower count or number of Facebook likes. It’s about the quality and effort you put into the connection.
It is about whom you know.
No matter the technological advancement, we are still animals with a need to feel connected to someone real, not just someone behind a screen. My question is, can robots, however far in the future, fill this need of face-to-face interaction?
The growth of mediated interaction renders it unnecessary for ethnography to be thought of as located in particular places, or even as multi-sited. The investigation of the making and remaking of space through mediated interactions is a major opportunity for the ethnographic approach. We can usefully think of the ethnography of mediated interaction as mobile rather than multi-sited.
As a consequence, the concept of the ®eld site is brought into question. If culture and community are not self-evidently located in place, then neither is ethnography. The object of ethnographic enquiry can usefully be reshaped by concentrating on ¯ow and connectivity rather than location and boundary as the organizing principle."
Ethnography is a fascinating tool. It has the power to really change the way that businesses approach and understand the people they serve, but also their own employees. Sure, there are still formal, written ethnographies out there and they are incredibly useful. However, they need to become more fluid. Anthropology and its methods have historically been very closely tied to place and time, examining a group of humans in that specific context.
That is the bit that needs to change. We are not interacting and living in permanent place anymore. Online exchanges have transformed perception of place. Digital space and physical space are equally relevant and play off one another. A physical space is never simply that and a digital space is never simply that.
How do we broaden our thinking and methods to include these new ways of thinking and acting?
There’s a privileged notion that the next generation of technology should become an unavoidable path to self-improvement — and that efficiency and errorlessness are always inherently good. As one respondent notes, “The Internet of Things will help more things go right and help more dumb things do smarter things. Anywhere there’s currently a human in the loop, there’s an opportunity for failure, as well as an opportunity for a device to make sure things go right.”
The problem with this is that those that don’t want to adhere to this world view may face new forms of economic discrimination. “Every part of our life will be quantifiable, and eternal, and we will answer to the community for our decisions. For example, skipping the gym will have your gym shoes auto tweet (equivalent) to the peer-to-peer health insurance network that will decide to degrade your premiums,” as another respondent cautions.
Those not buying into the system would need to create new forms of retreat from an everyday life characterized by these activities. Respondents note the emergent need for “Google Glass-free zones,” “personal anti video firewalls around our bodies,” and “technology shabbats” — a day of the week where we figure out a place that’s off the grid."
Above all else, sociology helps us learn to ask critical questions about both individuals and their broader context. What factors shape an individual’s life chances? How do changes in policies and laws impact people’s daily lives? Is this person’s experience typical, or anomalous?
Learning about sociology not only enhances a writer’s ability to tell interesting stories, it also helps us tell stories that will have a powerful impact on those who read them."
As a pseudo-sociologist, the skills I learned, namely the importance of the social context of, well, pretty much everything, changes everything.
“Big data is a term describing the storage and analysis of large and or complex data sets using a series of techniques including, but not limited to: NoSQL, MapReduce and machine learning.
The Method for an Integrated Knowledge Environment open source project. The MIKE project argues that big data is not a function of the size of a dataset but its complexity. Consequently, it is the high degree of permutations and interactions within a dataset that defines big data.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology. NIST argues that big data is data which: “exceed(s) the capacity or capability of current or conventional methods and systems”. In other words, the notion of “big” is relative to the current standard of computation.”"
The new definition of Big Data.
We are truly betwixt worlds, and as editor of a web-based journal, I’ve again and again felt the truth of William Gibson’s familiar observation: “The future is already here. It’s just unevenly distributed.” In my experience the distribution — contrary to popular perception — is less generational than temperamental.
the focus on the hard copy — on the object — is natural enough. You can hold it in your hand and admire the design, feel its weight, appreciate what Nicholson Baker has called “a beautifully browsable invention that needs no electricity and exists in readable form no matter what happens.” But in the contemplation of the object, you do not necessarily consider the many systems — the intricate and overlapping networks of publishers, editors and proofreaders, of designers and typographers and printers, of marketers and distributors and transporters, of booksellers, libraries and archives — that have been activated in its service.
All of which is to underscore that the heart of the matter is not the printed page versus the electronic screen; that what is being revolutionized is not simply the print publication but more broadly the larger systems within which it has played such a central and glorious part."
While a very valid point, there are several pieces of this that bother me. First off, Twitter has not been a startup for sometime. Twitter is indeed a media, communication and entertainment company now. That mission of transparency lingers from the days when it was a social network, of sorts. A way to communication 140-characters of random thoughts or events with anyone who would listen. That was then.
The IPO is the symptom of a larger shift that has been happening within Twitter for years now. They are no longer a social network. That is not a plausible business option for them. Yes, Twitter is inherently social, but it is not Facebook. It’s currency is information, news. That is Twitter’s business now. It is a smart business decision to keep the news about their IPO under wraps because of that shift.