for those who would make a difference

Category: KimKobza

“Social Production” as a Market Strategy

“Social production” is defined as the result of “the coordinated creative energy of large numbers of people (usually with the aid of the Internet) into large, meaningful projects, mostly without traditional hierarchical organization.” (

Given that definition, can social production build stronger market economies?  Will we create compelling financial incentives and rewards with more social cooperation?

“Social production” was cognitively described by Yochai Benkler in the Wealth of Networks. We often think of market and social production as mutually exclusive.  We mentally pit financial outcomes against egalitarian “free” outcomes. A good example is the open source versus traditional software licensing debates currently playing out in the Gov 2.0 movement in Washington D.C.

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Recognition and Social Fear — The Competing Forces of Citizen Participation

What makes for a good day? When you get home at night do you feel like you have had a good day when it is filled with non-stop listening to others and you have had little to say? Or do you have a good day when you can say – “You know what, I had something to say that someone listened to, and I think it made a difference”?[1]

The desire to be recognized is one of the most powerful human motivations that all of us share. And it is at the core of many government 2.0 applications – often, cooperative platforms that enable complete visibility and back and forth between citizens and at times agency employees and officials.

Wikis, crowd sourcing, forums, and blogs are all examples of specific cooperative applications. These tool technologies are often touted as enabling inclusion of citizens, agency partners, and employees in a way not before possible. Many of these social tools are in fact designed to build social friendships or relationships in closed groups, or have a strong social element.

Social fear, too, affects citizen inclusion.

Of course the flip side of openness is the social fear that it creates.[2] It too is a powerful emotion.

Do you remember the first time that you walked to a podium in a public meeting to share your point of view? Did you have a lump in your throat and a pit in your stomach? For many in America and throughout the World, this is the case. We don’t naturally gravitate to public recognition. We fear looking stupid and being ridiculed. And so it is online.

Why would citizens with constructive ideas share them in an online food fight, where in today’s hyper-partisan world cooperative tools are used as mega-phones for deeply held beliefs, often at the expense and ridicule of those trying to be constructive? In that sense a good case could be made that they inhibit inclusion rather than expand it – standing alone.

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Late Bloomers and The Evolution of “Social”

“…[W]e live in a society with peculiar expectations about the time course of success. We think that if a child isn’t blossoming as fast as the others in grade school, he or she will be hard pressed to eventually flourish.”

Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D Candidate, Yale, Psychology Today, November 2008

The Social Evolution is in full swing. We are finally moving beyond early stage social experiments, and on to achieving transformation through distributed learning and exchange that characterize complex social behaviors.

Scott Barry Kaufman’s article on the phenomena of “late bloomers” provides an opportunity to consider an interesting metaphor on social transformation. Like late boomers in human development, social transformation is prone to the emergence of “late bloomers” too.

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Citizen networks – What can we learn from the science of epigenetics?

Not all that long ago, the scientific community was justifiably ecstatic about having achieved mapping of the human genome – The Human Genome project. The promise was that by understanding genetic mapping we could find cures for disease, disability, and perhaps enhance longevity.

But an interesting development has occurred. Scientists are now learning that understanding of human genetics goes far beyond mapping genes. Two people – for instance identical twins – can have identical DNA sequences– but can nonetheless experience very different health. Why?

This is where the science of epigenetics comes in. It seems that the environment, life conditions, our experiences, and perhaps the experiences of our ancestors can all affect how our genes express themselves. Epigenetics, a combination of proteins and markers affected by environmental conditions and life experience, can turn genes on and off. So even though two people have identical DNA they can still live very different lives.

So what does epigenetics have to do with citizen networks? Assume that two governmental agencies have similar networks – a similar number of members, compelling content, and exchange between citizens and agency. Assume also that we support the networks with similar component technologies. Why would we experience different results – different levels of citizen participation?

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Gov 2.? – Call it what you will. Labels, language, and the need for a compelling vision

It is emblematic of the times that nascent Gov 2.0 is without adequate descriptors readily accepted and simply described. This has less to do with the availability of labels than the fact that Gov 2.0 is a ship without a rudder— it still lacks a unifying theme and clearly articulated purpose behind the Gov 2.0 transformation. Gov 2.0 still means many things to many people—often different.

Social media, Gov 2.0 —going, going ……….?

It was bound to happen. “Social Media” an often-used term for all things Gov 2.0 is about to get the RIP. The influential Chris Dorobek started the mudslide last year with his Dorobek Insider column at Federal New Radio. Echoing his comments from the Sweet and Tweets Event from the night before, Chris challenged the term “social media” as the most appropriate representation of the Gov 2.0 movement. In his event commentary Chris asked: “Isn’t social media simply collaboration but in a different form? “

Dr. Mark Drapeau’s view was that “social media” might not be descriptive but that Gov 2.0 is about much more than simple “collaboration”. Jeff Levy weighed in on twitter questioning whether it all makes a difference at the moment while Andrew Krzmarzick authored on his govloop blog to suggest that the flagship term should be “knowledge media”. No More Social Media: It’s Knowledge Media. Then Nahon Gershon opined that more appropriately the rally moniker should be “new media” to connote neutrality. See, Social Media, What is in a Name?

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Of People and the Power of Persuasive Networks

Words can be powerful. They influence purchases – “I’ll buy this good over that good”. “This good is better for me”. “I want that”. In government, they affect public opinion – “I am/am not for government sponsored healthcare reform”, “ I am for less taxes” “We need more roads”.

This is why the industry of preference formation (advertising, marketing, and public relations) is a multi-billion dollar industry. Often goaled with sending just the right message, or controlling the message, it is founded upon the belief that if organizations can just choose the right words—the magic words—consumer and citizen behavior result.

But what about people – those like us? Aren’t we the most important actors in preference formation?

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