Archive for November 9th, 2011

Future society II   no comments

Posted at 11:48 am in Sociology,Uncategorized

I was writing in my previous post that we don’t really realize where we are heading, but the change is already here, we are already in this cybersociety. At the London Conference on Cyberspace last Tuesday, Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda emphasised the social benefits of being online. She stressed that it was vital to deal with the 30% of Europeans currently not online.

In the forward of the book Engines of Creations by K. Eric Drexler, Marvin Minsky says the following: How can we predict where science will take us? [..] It is virtually impossible to predict which alternatives will become technically feasible over any longer period of time. [..] It is equally hard to guess the character of the social changes.

Probably one of the best fortunetellers of today, Manuel Castells, Professor of Sociology at Berkley University, is widely regarded as a leading analyst of the Information Age and the Network Society. In the following blog posts we will try to pick up his main ideas by selectively reading through his famous trilogy.

Castells defines space in The Rise of the Network Society, the first volume of his trilogy, as being the material support of time-sharing social practices. Further he explains by time-sharing social practices I refer to the fact that space brings together those practices that are simultaneous in time. [..] The space of flows is the material organization of time-sharing social practices that work through flows.

  1. The first layer, the first material support of the space of flows is actually constituted by a circuit of electronic exchanges (micro-electronic based devices, telecommunications, computer processing)
  2. The second layer is constituted by its nodes and hubs. [..] A “global city” is the production site of the informational global economy
  3. The third layer refers to the spation organization of the dominant, managerial elites (rather than classes) e.g. Google, Facebook

In the Conclusion chapter of the book, Castells says the new economy is organized around global networks of capital management and information, whose access to technological know-how is at the roots of productivity and competitiveness. [..] Our species has reached the level of knowledge and social organization that will allow us to live in a predominanty social world. It is a beginning of a new existence, and indeed the beginning of a new age, the Information Age.

In Marketing to the Social Web, Larry Weber suggests the following methods for promoting the community that you built around your product:

  • doing marketing research by following what users blog or post about your product
  • minding the gap between the different ages, income or whatever might differentiate customers and focus on a target
  • actually contact and offer incentives to good customers
  • use search engine optimization
  • promote the URL of your website through traditional or multimedia ads
  • increase the benefits of your services by constantly adding new features

Social Marketing compared with traditional Marketing is personalized, more targeted and I think it is more cost effective and efficient.

In the next post, we will take a look at Castells’s second volume of his trilogy, The Power of Identity.

Written by ad4g11 on November 9th, 2011

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Game Theory and Actor Network Theory   no comments

Posted at 8:58 am in Uncategorized

After some time looking across the surface of a few subjects; logic, statistics, game theory and the psychology of group dynamics, I have found a focus for the two subject areas of interest. Game theory is tough, very tough and the maths leaves me out of my depth in 3 out of four library loans. But I will persist with it as I am more and more convinced of its value to post-data visualisation work, which is at the centre of my studies this year. The subject which sits at the front of the workflow is becoming more clear, the concepts within statistics and logic provide a set of resources to aid in the formation and collection of data and information. This requires me to spend more and more time on Khan Academy brushing up on A-level (and post-A-level maths – ouch).

I know I shouldn’t be looking to understand these subjects completely, that would be impossible, but reaching conscious incompetence is equally challenging. I will attempt to give an overview of Game Theory on the next post.. (!)

Written by pmb1g11 on November 9th, 2011

Social perception   no comments

Posted at 8:20 am in Psychology

(Note: I am posting this in advance to compensate for the fact that I will be attending a 2-day conference later this week and may not be able to contribute to the blog according to the normal schedule. In other words, I have done double reading this week and I am posting this one week in advance.)

Social perception starts off with very simple ideas. To start with, these theoretical model says people perceive the world with categorised ideas, which is known as schema. These schemas include categories for people, self, events, and roles. These schemas are fairly self-explanatory. For example, person schemas contain all the abstract conceptual models of personality trades or person prototypes that allows a person to categorise and make conclusions from past experience of interacting with other people who are in this category. A typical statement will be, ‘ so you are a farmer, I have met a farmer before and he was like these are like that ’.

Regarding self-schemas, is how we look at ourselves, our past experience, and how we relate to the world around us. Event schemas is concerned with the sequential organisation of events in everyday activities. These would include anticipating events, setting aims and objectives, and making plans. Finally, role schemas are concerned with behaviour and traits of people with specific rule positions in society.

Schemas and stereotype and prejudice

This is an interesting concept. If fundamentally the way we process and understand the world is by categorisation and the use of schemas as suggested, then generalisation is unavoidable. For example, we may have a role schema for a senior medical consultant, or we may have a role schema for a young teenager. Each of these roles would have different characteristics and personalities, and likely as these characters are mentioned, each and everyone of us would have formed a picture of what we think these characters would look, dress, and behave. Under this understanding, stereotyping is both normal and necessary.

However, stereotyping is generally thought of negatively. For example, racism is a form of stereotyping. Discrimination of any kind has an element of stereotyping. Commonly, schoolchildren are taught not to judge a book by its cover so to speak. This creates a necessary conflict between theoretical models, human behaviour and generally excepted moral norms. The question is, does this mean we have to natural tendency to discriminate?

Fortunately, this is not always the case. It is argued that categorising in itself does not automatically mean discrimination. It is largely dependent on and the attitude of the individual towards members of the category. In other words, does it make any difference whether people are categorised according to age, gender or nationality? People are being put into categories all the time. In most cases, categorisation has not caused any problems. However, problems arise when unfair or even aggressive attitude is shown towards a particular group.

Take skin colour for an example. In a country where both the black and white mix well and see no distinction between themselves, skin colour categorisation has no problem. However, in countries where the blacks are seen as born to be slaves, categorisation becomes a problem. Or in a company where all the women are considered less capable and dedicated than their male colleagues, categorisation becomes a problem. Therefore, it is argued that attitudes is the determining factor.

Moving on

I am thoroughly intrigued by the idea of schemas and perception and attitudes. I will be following this up and see what I can find about formation of attitudes.

Written by Mandy Lo on November 9th, 2011

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Theoretical Foundations of Social cognition   no comments

Posted at 7:30 am in Psychology

Social cognition is all about the cognitive activities and processes in the context of social relationships. The broad categories in social cognition would include things like social perception, attitudes, attributions, self and identity, prejudice and ideology. In this blog, I will focus on the some of the theoretical foundations of social cognition. This will be followed by a separate post discussing some of the broad categories mentioned above.

There are several main ideas under cognitive models. One of which is how we can use metaphors to describe the cognitive processes. For example, these processes can be described as an information processor. Another metaphor also commonly used is a naive scientist model. Under this model, people I said to understand the world around them in the manner of a scientist. They make observations, to hypothesise, they observe again, and eventually coming to a conclusion. Although many other metaphors are also used, information processor and the naive scientist model are by far the most common.

Another approach is called perceptual cognitivism. Under this theory, nothing sensed by the person can be said to be true or absolute truth. Everything sensed by any person is a perception of reality. However, it is argued that given the enormous amount of stimulus around us, it will be impossible to process them all. Therefore, it was proposed that schemas exist to allow categorisation of different stimulus, which in turns allows the person to reduce the amount of processing. This is called mental representations.

Under identity theory, a distinction between personal identity and social identity is made. Fundamentally, personal identity is strictly personal and does not involve any other individuals. For example, statements such as ‘ I am hungry ’, ‘ I am hot ’ and ‘ I love swimming ’ are strictly rational and does not involve any other individuals. By contrast, statements such as ‘ I am Chinese ’and ‘ I am a web scientist ’ shows aspects of social identity. Social identity is concerned with how an individual views his or her own relationships with other members of the group.

It has been shown that where categorisation exist, typical expectation or stereotype within the category is often exaggerated while those that are counter stereotyped behaviour are often underestimated. It has also been known that depending on how the individual perceive he or she compares with the other members of the social group, he or she may evaluate him or herself differently.

Moving on

I will be summarising what I have learned about social perception and attitudes in the next blog.

Written by Mandy Lo on November 9th, 2011

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