IPAC Conference

Today I’m doing a panel on Networks and Networking in the Public Service at “Beyond Bureaucracy” a conference hosted by the Toronto Regional branch of IPAC.

As the description states “Informal channels of communication are vital networks that allow people to socialize and collaborate and, arguably, work more efficiently. Technology can make these networks indispensable, as shown by user-driven wikis and social networking sites like Facebook. ”

True and true. And then here’s a kicker. These networks exist whether organizations sanction them or not. Although not perfect, social networking software at least brings old hidden networks out into the open and at best helps subject them to other societal norms (think gender parity and racial diversity). Telling employees they can’t use facebook doesn’t destroy the network. It just forces it somewhere else, somewhere where you have even less visibility into how it manifests itself, who it benefits and how it grows.

In essence you strengthen old hidden networks. That thing we use to call the old boys club.

6 thoughts on “IPAC Conference

  1. Veronica

    I think I agree with you that banning social networking software is not particularly helpful, but I hadn’t thought of it in terms of opening exclusive networks. So I have a social science-y question: I’m very curious to know by what mechanisms you think social networks situated on networking software would be subjected to social norms. Without having thought about this for any longer than it took me to read your post, it seems to me that it could just as easily go the other way, and strengthen exclusive networks by giving them the aura of legitimacy. The polisci prof in me wants to ask how one would construct a research project to find out what the effects of social networking software on informal networks and norms transference has been.

    Reply
  2. Veronica

    I think I agree with you that banning social networking software is not particularly helpful, but I hadn’t thought of it in terms of opening exclusive networks. So I have a social science-y question: I’m very curious to know by what mechanisms you think social networks situated on networking software would be subjected to social norms. Without having thought about this for any longer than it took me to read your post, it seems to me that it could just as easily go the other way, and strengthen exclusive networks by giving them the aura of legitimacy. The polisci prof in me wants to ask how one would construct a research project to find out what the effects of social networking software on informal networks and norms transference has been.

    Reply
  3. David Eaves Post author

    Veronica,

    I think you are right, and that these comments aren’t in conflict. In some ways it would strengthen those networks (or at least formalize them). My hypothesis is that, in doing so they would be pushed out into the open. This would make them more susceptible to monitoring and societal pressures…

    Reply
  4. David Eaves

    Veronica,I think you are right, and that these comments aren’t in conflict. In some ways it would strengthen those networks (or at least formalize them). My hypothesis is that, in doing so they would be pushed out into the open. This would make them more susceptible to monitoring and societal pressures…

    Reply
  5. Jeremy Vernon

    While agree that Facebook exposes otherwise latent relationships, I think the limitations of it and most other social networking sites is poor fuzziness.

    Nodes are connected or not connected in Facebook and that connection is given a category. This doesn’t reflect what makes networks interesting – variable and dynamic proximity of relationships.

    Already, I see young people using Facebook as a method of including individuals without involving them.

    Before Facebook was Friendstr, which I described to people as the rationalization of the process of defining an outgroup. Facebook carries on the tradition with an even more primitive view of social relationships.

    Reply
  6. Jeremy Vernon

    While agree that Facebook exposes otherwise latent relationships, I think the limitations of it and most other social networking sites is poor fuzziness.Nodes are connected or not connected in Facebook and that connection is given a category. This doesn’t reflect what makes networks interesting – variable and dynamic proximity of relationships. Already, I see young people using Facebook as a method of including individuals without involving them. Before Facebook was Friendstr, which I described to people as the rationalization of the process of defining an outgroup. Facebook carries on the tradition with an even more primitive view of social relationships.

    Reply

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