What Kind of Card is Race? by Tim Wise

Nothing, absolutely nothing, has to do with race nowadays, in the eyes of white America writ large. But the obvious question is this: if we have never seen racism as a real problem, contemporary to the time in which the charges are being made, and if in all generations past we were obviously wrong to the point of mass delusion in thinking this way, what should lead us to conclude that now, at long last, we’ve become any more astute at discerning social reality than we were before? Why should we trust our own perceptions or instincts on the matter, when we have run up such an amazingly bad track record as observers of the world in which we live? In every era, black folks said they were the victims of racism and they were right. In every era, whites have said the problem was exaggerated, and we have been wrong.

What Kind of Card is Race? by Tim Wise.

Can You Say That in English? Explaining UX Research to Clients

Can You Say That in English? Explaining UX Research to Clients

Descriptions of standard user research methods in plain english.

Towards a sociology of living death

Zombieism is not so much a state of being as a set of practices and cultural scripts. It is not that one is a zombie but that one does being a zombie such that zombieism is created and enacted through interaction. Even if one is “objectively” a mindless animated corpse, one cannot really be said to be fulfilling one’s cultural role as a zombie unless one shuffles across the landscape in search of brains.

Gabriel Rossman – Towards a sociology of living death

Lucha Libre – Trade secrets and revelations

Lucha libre is thus constructed around the public secret of the fixed ending. Yet the secret of the fixed ending is only one of a number of back secrets, of stories told and stories hidden, of secrets revealed to conceal still others. The secrecy of the fix stands for a series of dissimulations, for the mystery that animates the genre.

Heather Levi – The World of Lucha Libre – Trade secrets and revelations

Meetings and Organizational Structure

While all meetings have an officially scripted agenda, their tacit agenda is power. Meetings establish who is in charge. When someone calls a meeting, he or she is asserting authority over those who are called on to attend. Meetings are exclusive and closed. In most corporations, who gets invited to a meeting—and who does not—sends a signal about who’s „in the loop“. Meetings are a form of social grooming inside organizations. Meetings impose vertical authority. They establish status hierarchies. […] When power is diffused and distributed more democratically, meetings are no longer necessary. But corporations are not democracies.

Matthew Fraser – Enterprise 2.0: Wiki While You Work

LAX Airport Parking Lot Communities

Every social situation in which individuals are voluntarily taking part – sometimes they might also be coerced to do so by vocalized or non-vocalized social regulations, sanctions or force – leads to the formation of a social structure. Even in short everyday interactions, sharing an elevator for example, these mechanisms are visible.

Of course, one could argue that the trained eye of a sociologist might only see what it wants to see. In these cases, the examples have to be extraordinary, like pilots and other airport personnel building mobile colonies on airport parking lots. They even have a mayor, problems with prostitution and unsolicited residents.

Now if that isn’t convincing, i don’t know what else is.

Sunday links: Science, Lost, Star Trek, What makes us happy?

Sunday Links:

  • The most realistic and the most ridiculous uses of science in film and TV [Link]
  • Lost and Literature: A Transmedia Story [Link]
  • An article about one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history with some fascinating insights: What makes us happy? [Link]
  • Henry Jenkins: Five ways to start a conversation about the new Star Trek film [Link]

Interviews in Intranet Needs Analysis

On a related note to my post from yesterday, Step Two Designs has a short overview on how to use an established qualitative approach from the Social sciences, more precisely interviews, when conducting an intranet needs analysis.

Enterprise 2.0 and the ROI Mystery

Apart from individual use or hype that hardly relates to your average company, the value and ROI of Enterprise 2.0 tools in organizations is still questionable. The main problems can be found outlined in these articles:

  • Dion Hinchcliffe: How to measure the ROI of Enterprise 2.0 tools [Link]
  • Also take a look at his slides from the Web 2.0 Expo [Link, via]
  • A more realistic and pragmatic viewpoint comes from Dennis Howlett [Link]

What makes me wonder is that, coming from a sociological background, i don’t see any insurmountable problems in measuring, and consequently determining, ROI of so-called ’soft‘ correlations. The social sciences have developed a strong and proven tool set for exactly this type of phenomena. Of course, the adapting of these tool sets to the enterprise could require more resources than management is willing to provide, but i think that, on a more manageable level, sound results can be found by even small teams and small initiatives.