a year since I’ve posted here…

It’s been over a year since I posted to this blog.  oops!

I raised some questions about the economics of social media in an earlier post — in particular, I wondered about the business model for sites like Delicious.com and Twitter.  Well, things have become somewhat clearer in the intervening year — it looks like there is no business model for Delicious.  bummer.

The community’s reaction to the announcement that Delicious would no longer be supported by Yahoo! (or maybe not) was immediate:  within a day of the first tweets, there were blog postings, tweets, and even a publicly editable Google doc sharing information on just how those of us with Delicious links might move forward (in addition to the very helpful personal emails from Dana at OIT – thanks, Dana!).

At this point, I’ve imported all of my Delicious bookmarks into Pinboard (http://pinboard.in/u:frieda.mendelsohn/).  Pinboard has an interesting business model which appeals to me as an economist who teaches network effects:  as the size of the network grows (and, therefore, the value of the network to each user grows), the fee to join increases!  “The fee is based on the formula (number of users * $0.001), so the earlier you join, the less you pay. ” [http://pinboard.in/help/fee/ ]

Even better, I can connect my Pinboard account with my Twitter account so that any tweet I “star” (or “favorite” – that’s really not a verb, is it?) is automagically added to my Pinboard list of unread bookmarks.  Of course, as always, I’m way behind in reading and annotating the resulting bookmarks.  Still, if you’re interested in what I’ve been reading (or at least stacking up for reading!), my bookmarks can now be found at http://pinboard.in/u:frieda.mendelsohn/.

Social Media – an update

As I said I would do last summer, I’ve spent this term experimenting with social media in my work with students. I used Twitter both to find interesting, useful articles to read and to communicate with students; I used Delicious to bookmark those interesting articles, sort the bookmarks, and store them in a publicly accessible place.

The use of Twitter to find interesting reading material and the use of Delicious to share it with students is working well. While I am, as usual, behind in my reading, the ability to easily share my lists of articles by topic does save time and energy. More important, I know that the articles are being read because students have referred to them in discussion and have cited them in their papers. This is clearly worth doing.

On the other hand, I still have only one student “following” me on Twitter. Having said that, I’m not actively “tweeting”, either, so there’s no real value to anyone following me … yet.

It troubles me that I haven’t added to this blog since the term began. While we all talk about the press of work, is it that I don’t have time to write or, rather, that I don’t have time to reflect? An interesting question on which I will reflect now that the term is winding down.

Social Media

The ESC faculty reading period is a time to read (obviously), a time to explore, and a time to create. This summer, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring Web 2.0 — the tools, the implications, and some of the sites. I’ve created a set of bookmarks at Delicious, found a range of publications and individuals to follow on Twitter, virtually attended several conferences and workshops, and even read traditional books on my Kindle as well as journal articles online.

As the reading period draws to a close, however, I’ve shifted my attention to how I’ll make use of what I’ve learned in my work with students. Much of my direct work with students is in two online courses: Social/Professional Issues for IT and Economic Issues and Strategies for IT. The goals of both of these courses are for students to first learn a framework for analysis and then apply that analysis to the real-world: current events in ICT (information and communication technologies).

Keeping up with changes in these technologies, the social issues and legal cases related to them, and the economic realities of the various players has also become increasingly difficult as the volume of stuff made available by an ever growing number of organizations and individuals has exploded. Keeping up with blogs, technology publications, news organizations, as well as research in the field(s) is an overwhelming task. While a newsfeed reader (Bloglines in my case) helps keep track of some of the material, Twitter (microblogging) has become yet another way to quickly share interesting bits of news or videos, comment on workshops or conferences one is simultaneously attending/watching, and, of course, find more distractions or be subjected to more spam. On the other hand, Twitter would also be a convenient way for me to announce to all of my students (if they “followed” me) that the office is closed due to a water main break (last June) or that there’s too much snow (sometime this coming winter if past is prologue).

Finding new material leads to the next problem: how to manage it. Since technology changes so rapidly, I’ve added articles to each of my courses each term; however, I haven’t always removed articles as they became obsolete or, unfortunately, as the workload for students increased. Since it’s important to me to make good use of student time and energy, I’ve decided to replace those articles with either links to particular tags in my Delicious bookmarks or, in some cases, embedded sets of bookmarks for particular purposes. My hope is that this will keep the courses current and make better use of student time, as well as managing all of my resources in one place. I look forward to hearing from students about this change.

The success of these strategies, of course, depends on the continuing existence of my newsfeed reader, Delicious (or the foresight to maintain regular backups of my bookmarks — oops! let me take a moment to go do that! I also backed up my Bloglines subscriptions while I was at it), and Twitter. What is the likelihood of survival for each of these businesses? What are the economic principles that make them function? Where’s the money??

This, then, is what I really learned this summer: for my Economic Issues and Strategies for IT course to remain current, we’re going to need to address social media. It should be a very interesting year!

Google Book Search

I spent Friday at Harvard! Well, I spent Friday watching the webcast of Alternative Approaches to Open Digital Libraries in the Shadow of the Google Book Search Settlement: An Open Workshop at Harvard Law School, July 31, 2009 Sponsored by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, the Harvard Law School Library, and Professors Charles Nesson, John Palfrey and Phil Malone: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/googlebooks/Main_Page. I also watched the Twitter stream (#gbsworkshop09), and spent some time playing with Google Book Search and reading more about the issues (see GBS in my delicious tags).

After three days spent searching, reading, and pondering, I am, once again, stunned by the information to which I had access from my home office. Clearly, this is yet another example of creation of knowledge not for monetary gain but for the benefit of society. Of course, the various stakeholders in this issue (both those represented in the settlement and, perhaps more important, those excluded from it) have vested interests in widely sharing their points of view. Nevertheless, this is yet another example of why intellectual property rights are not the only values we should consider in analyzing uses of digital media.

It's the reading period!

In addition to reading and attending conferences (via archived media), I’m trying to make sense of “web 2.0″ — what are social media, how can I use these tools to enhance my students’ experience, how can I use them to enhance my own learning, what are the issues for IT professionals (Social/Professional Issues for IT) and how can we use economic analysis to understand these media (Economic Issues and Strategies for IT)?

So many questions… so little time!

"No Longer Available"

I’ve been developing web-based resources and writing for the web for over 10 years. For the most part, these resources were developed for the college or for the SUNY Learning Network (SLN) — some of them as a faculty fellow at ESC’s Center for Learning and Technology and others as a mentor at the college.

As I look at my vitae, however, I see “no longer available” next to almost every project. My work has vanished, been orphaned, been replaced — have I accomplished anything?

One explanation for the loss of my work is that the institutions have changed: the college has changed, the college’s relationship to SLN has changed, and SLN has changed — some of these resources are only of historical interest since they are irrelevant to the current institutions.

Still, what does it mean to have one’s body of work disappear or be orphaned by the institution? Just what have I accomplished? Was it worth the time and thought that went into it?

What does it mean to have a vitae with so many empty spaces? What might it mean for our younger colleagues as they think about how to spend their scarce resources on “the work” of academia? Will they create for the web? Are there sufficient incentives to write for the community given that the product may disappear with a change in technology or a change in administration?

Who will write for the commons?

I'm interested in hearing from YOU!

Is there something you’d like me to write about? If so, please post it here or send it to me via email.

If it’s a question about the course you’re currently taking from me, please ask the question there — you’ll get a response much more quickly!