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George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950), Man and Superman (1903) "Maxims for Revolutionists"
You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"
George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950), "Back to Methuselah" (1921), part 1, act 1
Don't let fear convince you that you're too weak to have courage. Fear is the opportunity for courage, not the proof of cowardice.
McCain, John (2004, September). In Search of Courage: Finding the Courage Within You. FastCompany, 51-56.
In the search for character and commitment, we must rid ourselves of our inherited, even cherished biases and prejudices. Character, ability and intelligence are not concentrated in one sex over the other, nor in persons with certain accents or in certain races or in persons holding degrees from some universities over others. When we indulge ourselves in such irrational prejudices, we damage ourselves most of all and ultimately assure ourselves of failure in competition with those more open and less biased.
J. Irwin Miller, Chairman of the Board (1951-1977), Cummins Inc. From 1983 letter about diversity at the company.
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November 02, 2005
ICA Pre-Conf - Web/Mobile hybrids and the “Ex-Girlfriend Problem”
Each day, new social software applications are being developed that allow users to affiliate with one another over the Web, contact one another via text messages on cell phones, and meet up in physical spaces on a moment's notice. Each day, users of these services are discover something sociologists already know: friendship doesn't travel as well as we think it does. In this project, I use ethnography to explore the context-dependent nature of social ties forged over DodgeBall.com, a service that rings your phone to let you know where your designated friends are meeting in local bars. I am particularly interested in what DodgeBall users call "ex-girlfriend problem": the desire to list someone as a friend in the context of a social networking service, yet whose live appearance in a bar seems too close for comfort.
It is common to hear the tracking capacities of social software/mobile communication hybrids discussed as what Clay Calvert calls "mediated voyeurism," a term that depends on cinematic gaze theory as its reference point. Yet I suggest that rather than the cinematic gaze or even the televisual glance, the term "grab" (with all of its connections to temporality, embodiment, power and politics) more accurately describes the dynamics of these new technologies. Continuing in a psychoanalytic vein, "grabbing" represents not voyeurism, but rather commodity fetishism and its attendant belief that what matters is what can be owned, if even for a moment. Yet I believe these technologies are interesting not because they seamlessly enable commodity fetishism, but because of their inevitable failure to please all consumers/viewers, all the time. The persistence of the ex-girlfriend problem demonstrates that contrary to hype, all economies of social capital reach points of diminishing returns.
At this juncture, both users and developers of Dodgeball's software seem to view the live presence of an unwanted witness summoned via cell phone to a public gathering as a social disaster of the first order. Yet there are many populations who could use the presence of a live witness connected to the situation only through affinities articulated online. One example might be members of online communities devoted to helping women deal with domestic violence who volunteer to list themselves on Dodgeball as "on call" should someone require a witness to document aggression in a public place. In the second part of this project, I build on the work of political theorist Jodi Dean to discuss what I call "networked reflective solidarity": a commitment to use networks in order to seek out others who may not yet acknowledge themselves as connected to us. I end by considering how Web/phone hybrids might be used for networked reflective solidarity, suggesting that in the near future, "friends" who are technically strangers (but with whom we feel certain types of affinities, and on whom we might count on at a moment's notice) might be just as significant than in-the-flesh drinking buddies we now buzz with our phones each day.
Posted by prolurkr at November 2, 2005 06:20 AM
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Posted by: Terri Senft at November 9, 2005 07:24 PM