Zooming in on Organizational Culture and New Social Media

Let’s start with a simple model shall we?

The interplay bet. people, technology, formal networks and informal networks yields an organization's culture.

This is a part of the Organizational culture model made by our Orcom 152 instructor. It tells us that organizational culture exists in the interplay between people, technology, and formal and informal networks inside the organization. The other part is what  outside forces affect organizations. Going back to the model, it is clear that there is an interplay or an overlapping of the four elements. The question that needs to be answered is  how exactly do these elements interact with each other.

People are the members of the organization. Technology is the communication technology available to the organization (New Social Media). formal and informal networks are the relationships and communication that are people within the organization share. There seems to be a connection between the four elements and that is what i want to expound on.

So to answer the question, I present another model to zoom in on the interplay between the four elements.

Red lines are formal networks. Blue lines are informal networks. Violet lines are technology-bridged networks.

Please note that this model is not strictly restrictive, meaning people can still be friends with their bosses and vice-versa. This model just represents one perspective to the dynamics of organizational communication and networks.

First let’s discuss the circles. The big dotted circles are formal social groups in organizations. These are groups made by the organizational structures like hierarchies and departments. They are made of dotted lines because though they may be different, they are still essentially part of one big organization and must thus be open and integrated to each other.

The circles inside the big circle are the members of the organization. These people see each other in a daily basis and this will inevitably lead to informal connections inside the group (blue lines). These informal connections transcend the formalities of the hierarchy and consist of horizontal communication. These networks are more common within the social group and not outside of it due to social barriers erected by hierarchies and formality in the organization. The logic is, ideally, it is easier to befriend someone of the same level in the organization as you are compared to someone higher than you.

In the perspective of the social groups being defined by hierarchy, the groups are connected by a network in respect of that hierarchy. These are called formal networks (red lines). Notice how the red lines connect the groups and not the people. This is due to the limitation that formal networks comes with. Though they are useful in enforcing organizational stability and efficiency, social groups made by ranks almost always reach employees in the impersonal way. “The guys at the X department wants…” and “People up there said that…”. How can organizations bypass this kind of network?

One way of doing so is utilizing communication technologies like the intranet in order to connect your organization. Communication technology can potentially breakdown the disadvantages of formal networks. Simply put, its mentally less taxing to text your boss about a marketing idea rather than to propose it at a meeting. It also promotes openness and lessens discrimination to new and radical ideas that may have otherwise been shut down by other committee members. Its like a process of electronic brainstorming where you don’t have to worry about the risk of being looked down upon by those of higher ranks and the boss gets a diverse amount of ideas due to the fact that there is less chance that employees can “be swept’ by a single person’s idea.

Ultimately, technology can build bridges between people in the organization that is otherwise much harder to do by traditional means

This is just one of the many perspectives one can take when viewing organizational culture. There is no one way of defining organizational culture and what affects it.

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Wikism: The Myth of a Phenom

Wiki is definitely one of the most famous sites in the internet. It is basically a site that allows easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages (wikipedia). And its free as far as I know. And as we may very well know; people love everything easy and free.

Adding the fact that its very convenient to use, and there you have one of the most famous sites of the 21st century.

And of course like all phenomenal things in this world, there’s always a bad side. Wiki’s no exception. Issues with credibility and validity of information rears their ugly heads when wiki is concerned. But even so, people still use wiki, and most likely, will still deem the information valid even with all the lack of credibility. Why is this so?

1. “Wikis have everything so everything here must be true”

Everyone and anyone can write and edit wikis, and that’s no exaggeration. From your great grandfather to your little sister, from the top scholar of this world to an uneducated ingrate, anyone that has an access to an internet connection could write and edit wikis. Even you.

This system enables wikis to have a pseudo-infinite amount of information. People type down “what they believe is true” and then show it to the whole world. Imagine if this is to happen on a global scale. This is what people like about wikis, they almost always have the information you need.

And because of this convenience, people have used it often enough to create the illusion that it’s just as credible as your everyday encyclopedia. The fact that wikipedia is one of the most popular wikis further enforces this.

Everything's in Wiki

2. “More often than you may think; people who use wiki have no clue about what they search”

Whenever there’s something I don’t know, I go to wikipedia. And there’s thousands of other people in the world who think like I do. Is there a problem to this? I believe there is.

If you don’t know anything about a certain concept; its hard to doubt any information that “seems credible to you”. And in the world wide web, wikis are one of the most “seemingly credible” things you can find.

If by some chance that someone put up wrong information in the wiki (deliberately or otherwise). It just risked misinforming thousands of people who rely on wiki for information. And human error is not something new to us.

Even more at risk are students who are fund of copy pasting from wikis without reading the articles. There are people in this world who will deliberately misinform people either subtly or otherwise. If you ever fall victim to these people, there will be hell to pay.

3. You never know who is who

The first time I used wikipedia, I thought it was an official encyclopedia and that everything on it is valid. Maybe its due to the fact that you never know who writes in wikis and even if you do; who cares?

The anonymity that wikis provide to its “contributors” contributes to the illusion of credibility of wikis. If you knew that the person who provided the information you read was just a regular guy from across the street, would you have believed him? People clamor for an omniscient being that could provide everything to them in a silver platter. The fact that electronic communication makes people less human in the way they communicate contributes to our perception that the person behind the information is someone credible enough to talk about the subject.

The question is; what if they’re not who you think they are?

Who knew?

And the moral lesson? Never let technology rule your lives. In this modern day and age, where people in organizations collaborate in the web, ultimately depending on it for efficiency and survival; we should always remember that we are the ones using the technology provided to us, not the other way around.

We should also take note not to embrace every piece of technology with open arms. As I’ve said, there’s always the bad side to good things in life. We should take our time in testing these technologies for it may be detrimental to our cause in the end. This is especially important in organizations where a single misstep would prove fatal. Misinformation and bad rep is something you never need. What’s even worse is you don’t have anyone to blame. Never say I got it from a wiki so I thought its true.

Still, organizations can benefit from using wikis and the pros actually outweigh the cons. Wikicollaborations enable real-time, anonymous group communication among the members of the organization without the wall of hierarchy to hinder you from saying your piece of the matter. This presents opportunities, and possible breakthroughs that are very important to organizations.

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This medium is war!

This guy ain't sleeping anytime soon

One interesting aspect of the internet is it is considered one of the most “human” media of all. This is due to its “social” functions in our lives such as Social Networking Sites (facebook, twitter, friendster, etc.), e-mail services, forums and many other things that connect people via the world wibe web. this aspect is generally referred to as the New Social Media. it basically connects people from all over the world, making the largest community the world has ever seen, comprising of basically just about everyone with an Internet connection and a computer. Of course if you lump all these people together, you’re bound to encounter one of the most bittersweet aspect of human life, conflict. This may be bad or good depending on the situation, and what’s better is it could even be funny at times.

Some people just can’t get along

Jejemons   VS   The Grammar Police

Grammar Police in Action

One of the most popular issue in the Philippines in the year 2010 and its not the elections.

People that tYpF LyK dizs are considered jejemons and is now a growing sensation here in the Philippines. They got their name from their signature laugh “Jejeje” and is hellbent on elongating words to make it “kewler”

The natural enemy of the jejemon are the Grammar Police. They enforce rules that govern how a language should be used. The reason for their hate is justified by their personality. Add in the fact that jejemonism is the exact opposite of minimalism, making the alteration of language detrimental instead of beneficial.

Trolls   VS   Anti Trolls

I actually believe that is what trolls look like in real life

An interesting match up. In the earlier match, the participants directly antagonize each other in hopes of shaming the other person enough that he or she will change her life. This fight requires a more strategic approach.

Trolls are commonly found in online discussions and forums. They post inflammatory,extraneous, or off-topic messages with the intent to simply piss you off. Its what happens when you give a bored, pathetic and intellectually challenged being a computer and an internet connection.

It does sound annoying but a true troll killer will not reply with, “WTF!!!! STOP TROLLING!!! YOU @*&%#!”. The best thing to do when handling trolls is to simply ignore it and let it flame itself to death.  It can be a long and arduous process but that’s just about the only easy way to treat troll infestations.

There are two types of both sides. Trolls are either Pure Trolls or they are Trolls disguised as Anti Trolls. Pure Trolls insult you, the other insults the Pure Troll on your behalf. People will then cheer on the “Anti Troll” and you’ll have yourself a flame war in a couple of minutes. See the beauty of this strategy?

Anti trolls on the other hand are classified as those who do their job by doing nothing, and those who screw their job by doing something. Do not reply to the trolls. Doing so will make you a failure of an Anti Troll.

I already mentioned trolls in one of my blogs but I wanted to add a little more to it.

There are lots of other interesting Matchups out there is the world wide web. Can you think of others?

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Social Media Era: Socialization Made Easy

I had a dream last night. It was just the computer and me. I had an internet connection and logged in my facebook account. Then suddenly, people I don’t know posted a couple of comments in my wall and all of them either gives me a compliment or greets me. With the complexity of interpersonal dynamics in mind, all I can say is, “This is way too easy.”

Social media is definitely one the most significant milestones of the 21st century. It managed to make the world a lot smaller than anyone could have imagined in the last decade by connecting people all over the earth via the internet. Its biggest impact by far, is the communicative power it provides people. A person can speak to another person thousands of miles away in real time.  People from all over the world can form groups and freely discuss among themselves.And these are just two of the very long list you can do with social media.

What exactly has social media brought upon us that literally reinvented the dynamics of human interpersonal communication?

Attachment to online social life

People of today take their social network life seriously. Even if someone throws you a random flame that is obviously just a pathetic attempt to make you cry, you can’t help but feel disturbed by this act.

I’ve yet to make a final conclusion about this perceived amplified effect of social network messages  to people but so far, people do appreciate a comment or two on their facebook wall just as much as a friendly hello, maybe even more.

This may stem from the fact that more and more people are going online and social networking is turning into a way of life. As time passes by, people may be more attached to their online lives more than they are at the present and soon, new social media will not only be embedded in our lifestyle but integrated to it. Even right now, people are already making a living in social networking sites. Just imagine what could happen in a few years.

The little things are the new big thing

I don’t know if evolution had a hand in this but human attention span seem to be decreasing as each generation takes the stage. People are becoming more impatient and are in dire need of fast and credible information.

The last thing you’ll want to see in your facebook is a wall of text that would take you ten minutes to read. That’s why comments and statuses that are not longer than three lines are very common in social networking sites.

Some people fear that this phenomenon makes the internet guilty of breeding stupidity in the incoming generations. I don’t think so. Less words does not necessarily mean less intelligence. In fact, being able to efficiently say what you want to say is a skill most people in this day and age revere as a sign of intelligence.

Of course lines like, “LOL, I had pancakes for breakfast too >.<” will always be prevalent SNNs. What people fail to understand is that New Social Media is a venue of communication, not publication. It does not have to be academic to serve its purpose. It connects people, and the rest is up to the users themselves whether they want to make it productive or otherwise. Function-wise, I think that the internet have served us well.

People are now more social than ever

Imagine taking a two-hour drive just to meet a couple of  friends and chat. Don’t forget that you have to go back home sometime today. With the sun hot as ever and transportation costs rising. Sucks right?

New Social Media enables you to chat with other people,even when they are miles away. This gives you more time to communicate, less hassle, and more flexibility in handling your social life. Being social has never looked easier, thus more people are engaging in this rapidly rising trend of going for online conversations over face to face communication.

Using New Social Media, you can meet a lot more people from all over the world, express your ideas, have fun, share experiences, build friendships, and even establish a long-term relationship with that special somebody.

What makes New Social Media so popular is that it does not only facilitate the transfer of information from one place to another like Old Media does, it facilitates communication between people and gets its strength from people’s natural need to belong.

New Social Media is rapidly being integrated with our lifestyle and most people see it as one of the biggest technological advancement of the 21st century. But like most big things, it comes with its own risks and dangers. Issues of privacy violation, identity thefts, and other security issues have flooded the internet for years now. In the end, wise use of this technology is of utmost importance when using NSM.

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A sandbox is a shallow container filled with sand in which children may play.  It provides children with the space and materials to build different structures based on things of this world. If you have lived at all you must know what sandcastles are. This is but one of the many other things you can create  in a sandbox. And its just not limited to creating structures. You can also dig holes and bury your “hidden treasure”, or you can even bury yourself if it suits you fancy. You can even go all out and play pretend. You play the role of your favorite fictional character in your imaginary world within the sandbox and use the sand as props. Imagine a kid pretending to be a giant monster and destroying sand buildings for his own amusement. Looks fun doesn’t it?

Of course for the more mature audience, the sandbox may seem too childish and unappealing. There’s a huge difference between a 3-year old kid pretending to be Godzilla in a sandbox and a 30-year old person doing the same thing. Luckily technology always finds ways for us grown-ups to have fun without embarrassing ourselves in public. And yes  its much more sophisticated than building a sandbox inside your house.

Bill Gates was the previous CEO of the Microsoft corporation and is consistently ranked among the richest man in the world. He is one of the most well-known entrepreneurs for his contribution to the personal computer revolution. In his essay entitled “Shaping the Internet Age”, he explained how the Internet made the world smaller by establishing communication networks between people around the globe. How the Internet helps big companies simplify logistical barriers and so on and so forth.

What is a generally unresolved issue is how potentially dangerous the use of the Internet really is to the common people. This is mainly because of its uncanny resemblance to a sandbox. The only difference is this is no child’s play.

This sandbox is a game everyone plays but must never toy with.

1. A whole new level of Pretend

A game I’d never suggest anyone to play. Social networking sites enable us to meet other people through the internet. A social network generally utilizes a representation of the user (usually in the form of a profile) that other social network users view in order to get to know the person better and decide whether they want to connect to that person or not.

But who said you have to be yourself in the internet? Remember the kid pretending to be Godzilla? SSNs give you a more realistic experience of this. Go pretend to be your neighbor all you want. None can stop you. This is one of the pitfalls of social networking sites.

Gate’s essay says that in order to keep the Internet a safe place to do business, software companies have a responsibility to work together to ensure that their products always offer the highest levels of security.

This is not enough. Majority of the internet users are common people who are not familiar with internet security and are very vulnerable to identity thefts.

Some of you might think, “Those fake celebrity accounts will never fool me. I’m much smarter than those retards.”

Its much easier to pretend to be someone who’s not well-known and ruin that person’s life. It may seem absurd that someone has the audacity to do this but it does happen and people have killed themselves because of this. So don’t turn a blind eye to this issue. It can happen to you, me, to billions of other people.

Do not in any circumstances try this. Its a serious issue and this game is banned for all eternity.

2. Free stuff

Another game that shouldn’t be played. File-sharing has been one of the most convenient features of the internet. It allows people to share different files to every other people from all over the world at no cost at all. And by files, I also mean files that are not supposed to be free at all. You can make a  sand car in a sandbox but once you pullout a real car from a sandbox, legal actions must be taken.

According to Gate’s essay DMCA and SDMI are supposed to counteract piracy but this is not enough. Piracy is more rampant than ever and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.

Dissidia: Final Fantasy is a PSP game released by Square Enix.  SE managed to sell over a million copies of the game. However it became later known that the game was illegally downloaded five million times from the internet, costing up to a $200 million dollar loss for Square Enix.

Piracy is a topic people tend to avoid but we must face facts. Its the people who don’t make money from piracy that are the hardest to regulate and ma very well compose of the majority of the population of pirates.

Pirates are not just making imaginary boats and treasures from sand in a sandbox. They are making real treasures from absolutely nothing at the cost of other people’s gain. People should know better than do this.

3. Badlands

A sandbox in the playground belong to nobody. The same with the internet. The internet grants power to even the most pathetic person in the world. Anyone and everyone can insult you and since their physical bodies are not within the reach of your burning fist, they can happily throw insults at you without getting mugged for it. Unfortunately, this is too small of an issue for Gates to tackle but it does deserve some recognition.

According to wikipedia:

“In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

A troll is just an example of how common people can misuse the internet. They think that since they’re just having fun, they can insult people and stir up trouble in discussions that could have been sensible. I  hate trolls not because they are annoying but because they drag people who pay attention to them to their level.

This virtual sandbox called the internet enables people to make the internet a lawless land where everyone can act like a complete douche. I wonder if there is a way to do otherwise.

The internet can be your playground. And like any other playground, you must play nice with other kids even if you don’t know that person at all.

I hope people with influence over the development of the internet like Bill Gates will take the time to see things from the point of view of a regular citizen and not from the point of view gigantic financial corporations. The internet is a whole different game from a sandbox and we must make sure we are ready for the big guns as future draws near.

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Off to a hot-blooded start!

Bow down to Mog!

Welcome to my very first attempt at blogging! I’m a senior student at the University of the Philippines, Manila. I’m currently taking up Organizational Communication and this blog is actually a requirement in one of my subjects. But that aside, I plan on making the most out of this experience and make something interesting for you to read.

Now to make myself interesting. My girlfriend actually thought of that word. She said it stands for “Me and Lem”. I’m a very lucky guy to have her. Its even spelled the same if you reverse it. How cool is that?

I’d love to say something about my personality but its surprisingly hard to do so. You see I’ve come to the conclusion that I have multiple personalities. Some people see me as someone smart and levelheaded. Some say I’m a lazy person and should change my lifestyle before I screw myself. Some see me as a goody two shoes. One person actually believes I’m some kind of a cunning and manipulative evil genius. I have no idea how she came to that conclusion. By the way, my girlfriend says I’m perfect (Massive ego booster)

Overall an ally to some, an enemy to others. Just like everybody else on this planet.

Okay enough with that. I will be updating my blog weekly. I hope I can pique your minds in the next couple of weeks. Kudos 🙂

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