Posts Tagged ‘technology’


Facebook and Connection

February 10, 2010

Posted by: Chad M. Gesser

Twitter: @profgesser


All the world is Facebooked, Twittered, MySpaced, Googled….connected.

I have been particularly interested in themes related to connection in my physical community since around the year 2000.  One of my areas of focus as a Sociologist is the Sociology of Community.  Among German Sociologist Georg Simmel’s many contributions is his work examining group size and relationships.  What is integral to the study of community are relationships and connection.
In the year 2000 a major work in the social sciences was published by Robert Putnam, a book entitled “Bowling Alone“.  This book was a national bestseller and spent time on the New York Times bestseller list.  Putnam’s work spoke to the loss of attachment and connection that people had with one another and how the sense of community had declined over the period of the 1970s-1990s.
A basic level research question that I have examined over the past several years is how does the role of internet technology, particularly social networking sites and services, impact relationships and connections?  On a practical level, have Facebook and other social networking services played an important role in meeting the needs of connection and interaction of people not only in the United States, but the world?  Is the void that Putnam highlighted now being filled through the internet?
Let’s examine Facebook a little more closely.  Literally.  Let’s look at my “connections”.
Below is a Facebook application I used back in February of 2008 to map my connections.
I decided to take another snapshot of my friends one year later in February of 2009.  That’s it below.
Notice in the friend wheel above that you can now barely see my name.  I’m literally “covered up with friends”.  This makes me feel loved, connected, friended when I look at this.
Then this month, I took another snapshot of my friends list.  Check this out.
When I first looked at this, it reminded of the sun, or the Earth.  Have my friends and me transcended something extraordinary?
I absolutely love the Friend Wheel application.  It’s striking to see my visual connections.  My “connections” have grown to nearly 300 “friends” over the past three years.  Sure, I have a large quantity of friends, but do I have quality relationships too?  If you are on Facebook, look at your friends list.  How would you characterize your friends?  Are they from high school, former boyfriends/girlfriends?  Family?  Neighbors?
After characterizing your friends, now think about those you maintain contact with, whether physically or visually, on a regular basis.  Some of these may also be Facebook friends.  What is the difference between “real life friends” and “Facebook friends”?  Do you consider the Facebook friends real?  What is the purpose of Facebook?

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants

January 6, 2010

Posted by: Chad M. Gesser

Twitter: @profgesser


Are you a digital native or a digital immigrant? Nick Skytland, a rocket scientist with NASA, shares his “Digital Natives” presentation on Slideshare, embedded below.

Do those students brought up with technology as part of their educational experience have an advantage in the 21st century learning environment?  What about in the workplace?

If you are reading this blog post, you obviously “inhabit” some portion of the digital environment.  I for one would likely be considered a digital immigrant: meaning, I had to learn the tools of technology to fit in to the digital culture.  For many younger students though, the internet, email, YouTube, Facebook, amongst many other information technologies are just part of their everyday lifestyle.

Do you think the social change brought about by information technology is a good or a bad thing?  Why?  Do you feel your information technology skills are sufficient for being successful in the global society?


Dependency Theory and Wealth Creation

May 19, 2009
Are entire societies caught in a global caste system?

Are entire societies caught in a global caste system?

Dependency theory attempts to explain that technologically advanced societies create new wealth through technological innovation and invention. This idea holds the amount of wealth in society isn’t limited—we create it!

While this might sound like a good thing (no one needs to be in poverty if we can increase the amount of wealth available), some sociologists argue it might not be. They suggest that third world countries are prevented from developing, causing those societies to become dependent on the more advanced societies. If so, this leads to a disproportionate share of wealth being accumulated in technologically advanced countries while third world societies are artificially kept from evolving.

What do you think?  Would you like to respond to this posting? If so, respond to one of the discussion topics below:

1. Do you think wealth in a society is a social creation and thus can be increased or reduced? Why?

2. Do you think that wealthier countries limit the development of countries that are less well off? If so, how? If not, why?

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