Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Organizational Culture

Before I post this I want to comment that I will be speaking about a religious organization, so I hope not to offend anybody. Furthermore I hope nobody takes my post personally, so if you are sensitive to the topics of homosexuality and the Catholic Church LOG OUT NOW!

Now that I’ve said that, I would like to comment on a film I recently saw,Bad Education directed by Pedro Almodovar. This film follows the lives of two young men, who attended an all boys’ Catholic school and the very different paths their lives take. Enrique and Ignacio where best friends during grade school, yet their feelings were more then what the surface predicted. Both young men were the victims of sexual abuse at a very young age, and through those experiences they discovered their homosexuality. The boys experimented sexually, much to the school’s head master’s dismay, a priest who was sickly infatuated with Ignacio. After discovering the boys’ sexual relationship, he expels Enrique. The boys do not see each other again until their late twenties. Enrique has become a successful director, while Ignacio, who continued to be abuse for the remainder of his education, became a heroine-addicted travesty.

The film showcases one of the world’s largest organizations, the Catholic Church. Catholic schools, such as the one in the film, exist in many countries and have been established from hundreds of years. However, they all function similarly, very strict rules, a hierarchy of authorization, and a very strong religious education. But the issues of child abuse and homosexuality present in the film are also well established in real life across the globe. There is something about that environment that perhaps promotes and allows for such type of behavior. Now, I’m not saying that all Catholic priests are homosexual, or that they abuse children. But the problem does exist and every year it becomes increasingly more of an issue. If one thing we have learned from organizational culture, is that despite the differences within each organization, they tend to all share similarities defy geographic and time boundaries. If not such scandals would only exist with in one Church or Organization, but as we know from recent events, a crisis emerged last year of many accounts, some leading back 50-60 years of sexual abuse of young boys in the Catholic Church.

Bianca Burgess points out in her example of the movie Alexander “Because of the teaching of Aristotle most of the Greeks considered the people of the East to be barbarians and fools simply because they could not read and write. However, earlier on in the movie after defeating the Persian army and coming to take his new throne in Bablyon Alexander and all of his men realize they were mistaken. They come to see that the Persians had architecture far superior to theirs and lived their life very similarly to the Greeks with large city states.” Another example or organizational culture, is the Ivy League school, such as decribes by Imbar Lawrence in his example of the movie How High. Imabar discusses the problems that arrise when two young, and greaty inibriated back men join the elite society of the ivy leage university. He states “I think it was a comedy, blowing up different ethnic, demographic, and cultural stereotypes that exist in both worlds as they collided. It provided a comical relief to dilemmas encountered when “Cross cultural” and “Interethnic” communication occurs within an organization.”

In conclusion, all cultural organizations create cretain characteristics about their enviroments because of the way they function. Some are good and other can be bad, but ther beauty of this assignment, is to realize that humans aren’t so different from each other. When put in similar enviroments the end product or results are similar, because communication is part of our human instinct. And out of our communication abilities organizational cultures arise.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Smart Mobs and Flash Mobs

With new technologies emerging everyday the communication between organizations is becoming more effective, productive, and helping all sorts of organizations achieve success. Mobile communication is in the forefront of this technological revolution, as well as Smart Mobs and Flash Mobs.

Smart Mobs as described in Dr. Gilbert link are "a small group that behaves intelligently or efficiently because of its exponentially-increasing network links." What exactly does this mean. One way of looking at it, can be text messaging or instant messaging, as Suzanne Hudak points out. Text or instant messaging, by computer or mobile communication, is the process of sharing information with one or more people. In any organization this is crucial, when it comes to distributing or communicating information with members of that organization. Smart mobs make this process possibly, quick, efficient and effective.

Flash Mobs as described in Dr. Gilbert link are "a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public space do something unusual or notable, and then disperse. They are usually organized with the help of the Internet or other digital communications networks." An example of this can be a company web page or blog, even a chatroom. Unlike the smart mob, flash mob make the information accessible through a public medium and as Ryan Schulke states "Their goal is to meet in a public place, accomplish an unusual task for no particular reason quickly and then disperse."

These two terms will become increasingly more important in the organizational world as mobile technology arises. Think of how many companies provide the employees with mobile phones, PDAs, or computer system's. It allows for work to be accomplished simultaneously by large or small groups of people, regardless of location and time. While these systems may be only established for one purpose at a time, the connection and relationship can be used in the future for endless amounts of projects and tasks, both in the business world and outside of this business world.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Weblogs, Aggregators, and Wikis in the Org

Technology is being pumped out so fast that it's hard, and frankly very time consuming to keep up with every medium of communication out there. However, despite my personal frustrations with the system I do recognized and appreciate how much these technologies have changed and improved my life. Futhermore, I think these new technologies combined, will revolutionize organizational networks in all aspects of communications. That is, as soon as everybody can figure out how it all works.

The Internet today is an essential part of our lives. Email and instant messaging are perhaps the most common tools for communication on the web. Sarah Doolin points out that these systems are only efficient in "back and forth communications involving two people or a small group," so better methods will be very valuable when organizations deal in the hundreds and even the thousands. Everyone can remember the craze in the mid-90's regarding chat rooms. Well, we probably all can agree that these are the prime examples of inefficient communication systems. I least I think so! So what, you can talk to 20- 30 people at a time. You can never actually get a word or statement in that made sense before someone else writes in another comment. Dr. Gilbert posts, a similar senario occurring with email today "organizations that rely on email end up inundating their members with dozens of org-wide emails per day, and so it becomes difficult to distinguish what is important from what is not; that is, it becomes hard to separate the signal from noise."

Nicole Bailey comments on what the email was supposed to be in contrast to what it actually is today. Millions of people jumped on the bandwagon to be part of the technologically advanced. But like any revolution, email was not free from mistake. Email still serves a great purpose, but we do need better systems of communications for organizations that require it. That could be a school, a business, or even a group of friends. The point is to limit the access to specific community rather the world wide web.

Ryan Schulke suggests another obstacle of emails. He states “The first problem with e-mails is that they are not personal. It lacks interface. With increasing reliance on e-mail as communication (*especially among the youth) we are losing an important interpersonal dynamic that had once existed on an everyday basis.” There is something to be said and gained from interpersonal communication. The use of weblogs, aggregators, and wikis can help us increase our level of interpersonal communication, by simply allowing us to personalize our communication spaces. For example, our own study guide blogs are personalized with favorite links, profiles, photos, and for some, daily thoughts and observations.

In order to understand how these tools can benefit us, let go over what they are.
Weblogs are a series of personal posts or messages, which are displayed from your most recent posting to your oldest posting. They can be archived and saved to your discretion. People can use weblogs to communicate daily messages to one person or a group of people. The best part is that they appear online as a webpage, connecting you to the worldwide web. News aggregators are helpful in keeping several weblogs organized by focusing on the daily or most recent message of the members on your weblog. This is especially helpful if you need to review the comments of several people and want to save time having to search for each individual weblog. It makes having a weblog more efficient and a lot. This saves a lot of time and increases the efficiency of the organization as a whole. Finally, wikis are similar to weblogs or internal web pages. They are an easy and very economical way to communicate, share ideas, post comments or thoughts. These tools are an outlook on future communication systems. I’m sure as the years advance and technology increases we will come up with newer and better systems. But they will all take a start or be influenced by the communication systems we have now.

Friday, November 05, 2004

"Unmade in America"

It is no news that since the beginning of the industrial revolution, big corporations have been looking for ways to “cut cost and increase productivity.” On way of doing this is by utilizing the “Command and Control” method described by Barry Lynn in his essay,“Unmade in America:The True Cost of the Global Assembly Line” published in Harper’s Magazine. Lynn explains how many American companies outsource numerous services from foreign companies in order to keep their companies producing and growing. They have been doing this for years and will probably continue to do so, so long as the labor in foreign companies continues to be cheaper then American labor. However, he also suggests the danger in being so dependent on outside sources. Sarah Doolin clearly explains such dangers when she states “big manufacturers have almost no inventory in which to rely upon if there were to be any malfunction in the assembly of a product national economy could be destroyed if a supplying country were to withdrawal from the production of a project.”

There are some serious problems that many people in this country and across the globe have with globalization. As Lynn states “by the late Clinton years, globablization had come to mean simply that someone else would do the dirty work, someone far away,” this does not mean that it is right or that it does not possess some great threat to corporations and to countries. One of the examples of such dangers that Lynn describes in his essay, and that Rosalyn Acosta mentions in her post, is the infamous earthquake in Tawain. This earthquake affected many computer manufactures , such as Dell. Lynn states “On September 21, 1999, an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale killed some 2,500 people in Taiwan. Within days, the stock prices of Dell, Apple, and Hewlett-Packard plummeted as investors focused for a short moment on just how much these companies depend on Taiwan-based factories.”
He also point out that if this eartqauke would have been a few points more devastating, “or centered a few miles closer to the vital Hsinchu industrial park,” the entire world economy would have found itself in a complete standstill for the months to come. One thing that Lynn does not mention, but I think it’s worthy of commenting. Many problems arise when foreign countries depend so greatly on outside companies as their entire base of economy. They too are indanger, if there are natural catastrophies or if the mother corporation decides to move it’s business somewhere else. These countries are left without any means of income, because they have spend so much time and energy preparing their work force for only these types of jobs. Globalization may provide quick means of success but it can be very costly for both parties in the end. Corporationsand countries across the globe have to be carefull not to cross the line of complete dependence on outside sources.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Social Network Analysis

In reading the introduction to Social network analysis, one begins to understand these networks, as Melissa Mendoza points, as the "mapping and measuring of relationships and flows between people, groups, organizations, computers, or other information/knowledge processing entities." The introduction emphasizes the imporatance of a centralized source, which we can call the “main source”, and all the outer sources that lead back to this main source. One way or the other, they are all connected, creating a network which is intricate, but allows for smooth transitions. "Nodes" are the senders/receivers (and the communication is two-directional), and the "links" show the flows and relationships between these nodes.

It can be assumed that if two nodes are connected to each other, they come in contact with each other regularly. However, where these nodes are placed in the network is key to what role they play and their importance within the network. The most important nodes tend to be centralized. "Their prominence is measured by the node's "centrality," as Lauren Cummin’s comments in her post.

Sarah Doolin states that “In measuring centrality, one takes into account the notions of "Degrees, Betweenness, and Closeness."
Degrees is the number of direct connections a node has. In personnal networks the more connections the better, but this can be false, what is really important is how the connected can connect the unconnected. Betweenness is when a node is located between to important continuiancies. This can be a dangerous position for the connection between point A and point C, is often determined by point B. Closeness is represented the length of the pathways, that the shorter the pathways between the nodes, the more quickly the information can pass to others. "They are in an excellent position to monitor the information flow in the network--they have the best visibility into what is happening in the network."

A good way to understand this idea is to look as the New York City subway map as Katie Cruger suggests in her post. Think of how all trains are essential to the function of others. Yet there are certain lines, that are essential for the system to work. For example. The L train travels in Manhatten for the east to west side. All major lines stop at 14th street and allow for transfer to the L train. However, if the L train is not working, there is no other way to travel by train from the east to west side of manhatten and vice versa. That in a nutshell is the purpose of understanding the social network analysis. Eventhough ceratin nodes play more essentail roles, their would be no network if all nodes did not work with one another to communicate all messages.

Monday, November 01, 2004

It's in the Network

After reading Shannon and Weaver and Sassure and Jakobson we have determined that the meaning of messages is found in the network. The network or source which all meanings derive from is not any given entity. It is an abstract idea, and can change depending on subject. Like any message, the message has an origin, this origin is the source but not always the sender. From this we can conclude that the meaning of messages are not found in words, however, something has to be responsible for all possible combinations of words and messages, along with the probabilities of many combinations of meanings. That responsibility is given to the source.

Sarah Doolin comments in her post, "Roman Jakobson's theory illustrates that there are overlapping systems of meaning, which brings forth the necessity of sub-codes and sub-sources." In our own language how many slang words, sub- languages and dialects can be heard on a daily basis. There is no way of knowing if my "hello how are you today" will deliver the same message that it would to me as it would to my receiver. In order to capture the idea of the source in Saussure's theory one must first understand the meaning of signs and how they relate to each other. For example, have you ever eased dropped on a conversation and understood something completely different then what you thought you had heard. All messages carry backgrounds. To understand the conversation between two people, we must take into consideration their thoughts, opinions, statements, perhaps their environment, and many other factors. Words can carry meaning beyond their simple definitions. We know from everyday life that hundreds of words have more than one meaning To really understand messages we take the words and analyze the network in which they were stated, hence "the meaning is in the network not in the words"

Elizabeth McEllgiot makes an interesting point when she states. "If I was born into a Hinduist family, then I would obviously be a completely different person, regardless if my genes were still the same, because I would be raised within a completely different culture who looks at the world with a different attitude." This is true of all messages.

Any given network is made up of smaller sub-networks or sub-codes. Each sub-code may may be different, yet they all co-exist in the same environment. These same sub-codes can be used over and over again. The sub-codes do not change, the environment does. Language must be looked at the same way. We may all speak English, but my English may not be the same as yours.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Saussure and Jakobson

”Signifier” and “signified” together create signs, which in turn explain the meaning of symbols. This process helps us understand symbols’ inherent meaning as well as to what it refers to. This is what Ferdinand de Saussure describes as semiotics “the study of signs.”

In order to understand a signs we need to know how it relates to its specific environment. I want to use the example of the yellow ribbons being used today. The yellow ribbon represents a song that was popular back in the 60’s. Which became popular to support Vietnam soldiers, now they are being used to represent support for our troops coming home from Iraq? The yellow ribbon has no direct connection to soldiers but that symbol has adopted that meaning because of the environment we live in. This is a very important concept when studying any form of communication. To truly understand communications we must understands signs and there meaning. Stephanie Summers points out the example used by Prof. Gilbert of the Chess pieces having meaning only in its environment. If so it can be concluded that not all symbols represent their inherent meaning and that messages can change from one environment to the other. That is what Saussure and Jakobson were trying to achieve in their work.

Sarah Droolin makes an important statement that captures the sensitivity of language, “An example of sub codes would be the differing jargon and dialects associated with American English and British English. One may discern that they are both speaking English, but the differences between the languages, even if they are subtle, may cause confusion within the conversation, thus contributing to the existence and necessity of sub codes.” We have to understand, that even just growing up in diverse neighbor hoods can differentiate are way of speaking and communicating. In this new communication age we are developing a new dialect of codes to communicate by Instant Messaging and Text Messaging. Saussure and Jakobson saw what Shannon and Weaver had created and expended their ideas so that we may continue to develop new ways of communication that are universal.