Thursday May 10, 2007

Smart move: Yahoo hires a Sociologist

Why would they do that one might ask? My interpretation is they "get" that the participation age is largely driven by the social dynamics of individuals and the sum of a crowd. Take for example the Digg thing. A Sociologist would have known how it would unfold and would have watched it with great interest and perhaps would have interpreted it not as a mob who wanted to take advantage of free DVD watching, but as a crowd who saw one of their basic rights being threatened. I'm in the camp that believes the folks who distributed the DVD key didn't do it for the value of the key -- most of them don't know what to do with it and likely don't care, they did it to make a point: Don't threaten my basic right to speak freely.

A sociologist could be of great value in helping tech companies build a social platform that is conducive to meeting the needs of a crowd as well as ensuring a company effectively contributes to and helps build whatever community it is they wish to be a part of.

Per the CNET article:
"Duncan Watts, professor of sociology at Columbia University, where he was director of the Collective Dynamics Group, and author of Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age, will lead Yahoo's research in human social dynamics, including social networks and collaborative problem solving.

Watts said his areas of interest include "trying to understand how social networks and communities evolve over time, how people influence each others' behavior and how people find things that are useful."

Having researchers who aren't focused on computer science will not only help Yahoo improve its product and service development, but could lead to advances in the development of technologies underlying the Internet, said Prabhakar Raghavan, head of Yahoo Research."
Smart move indeed, IMHO.

Thursday May 03, 2007

Mob humor...

...related to the Digg saga (see my last post if add'l context is needed): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9HaNbsIfp0

Wednesday May 02, 2007

Are you following the Digg saga?

I consider myself a student of the online community space -- the sociology that drives it all is fascinating. The fact that people's reactions to an unlimited scope of topics are globally and immediately available for easy, open discussion is an incredible thing to witness, let alone participate in.

This week's hot topic is how Digg reacted to a post that included an encryption key that enables one to play HD-DVD movies in Linux. I haven't figured out why the key can't be modified and therefore rendered useless by the intellectual property owner, but that's beside the point.

Digg initially removed the post and the blogosphere retaliated. Seriously retaliated. As a result, far more attention has been drawn to the encryption key and it is now mass distributed -- with/without Digg.

I like Digg's transparency in their initial reaction and follow-up reaction. Check out Kevin Rose's (Digg Founder and Chief Architect) post:
"...after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.

If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying."
I suspect most people want to see Digg still standing when the dust settles, but it'll be interesting to see how things turn out. The lesson (which seems to be a recurring theme in the community space) is clear...

...don't underestimate the power of the decentralized online community.
About

Sr. Community Engineering Program Manager/Acting Director for Sun's external social networking sites (blogs, forums, wikis, etc.). Skrocki's personal blog, LinkedIn.

Search

Archives
« April 2014
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
  
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
   
       
Today