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« An Opening for Criticism and Content that Invites Conversation | Main | A Change of Description and Plans for 2006 »

January 16, 2006

Comments

John Cass

Are you saying the objectivity is a product of the reader's research and efforts, rather than the writers?

If so, I'd agree with you on that.

There have been some bloggers who are very concerned about the objectivity of bloggers, and believe that only journalists can bring professional objectivity to a debate or discussion.

I remember a recent presentation through audio on the part of David Weinberger where he described his experiences with shopping for some large appliances. He consulted his fellow customers and found a basket of opinion, some good and some bad, but on balance enough information to make a shopping decision. Yet, the consumer opinions that convinced him most were those that stated the product was okay but not perfect.

This example above of consumer generated media is one of the best examples of what reality should be a mixed bag, one where I have to make my own decisions based on the available facts.

Elizabeth Albrycht

I am indeed saying objectivity is a product of the reader's research and efforts, but it is also, in a sense a responsibility of the writer as well to make that easier, by providing a trail of knowledge crumbs...the ability for the reader to trace back the justifications for the writer's position.

Now, clearly, some guidance here is needed. If the writer is mentioning a generally accepted fact, then he/she doesn't really need to justify it. But if the "fact" is still being constructed, is still controversial, then certainly providing a link to information that supports he/her argument is important. It might just be a link to a wikipedia definition page, but also links to an ongoing conversation taking place.

Reputation is important here as well, but cannot be assumed. For example, I might write a lot about a particular subject. Therefore, I might make some statements that I don't continually link-reference back to. For my regular readers, that isn't a problem - they might take what I say at face value due to my reputation. However, a first-time reader finding me through a Google search doesn't necessarily have any reason to do the same thing. Hopefully they'd take the time to look at my work, do some searches on me etc. to see if I can be believed. There are likely standard markers people use to decide if someone is believable or not (there's an interesting research project!). Lots to think about there...

To me, what is so interesting about this idea of a constructed objectivity by the reader is that it really does require work and some skill. How much work and how much skill is another interesting question. And can that reader turn around and transmit that earned objective position to others? Yes - the question is how much of a knowledge trail do they need to leave behind them? More if they are not a recognized source on the subject, less if they are. Or maybe, again, that assumption isn't correct any longer (is there a global way of recognizing credibility?).

David Phillips

Hi

There is accepted psychology that people can be obedient but also have a 'reset' button but what interests me in your excellent treaties is the schizophrenia we all have built into us to some degree. At different times and in different circumstances our belief sets may be different.

So perhaps a blog may be a way that people can track back to a different belief set. But that is not enough.

I try to think of constituents as inhabiting social space and that, at any moment, this provides a social frame where the influences are environment, the ability to interact and available knowledge (when the knowledge we choose to use is internalised – a state that is acceptable in psychologically). Psychology may also support your arguments.

Lately, I have been experimenting with Latent Semantic Analysis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latent_semantic_analysis) on Blogs. We have built our own LSA engine (one applications is talked about here http://www.netreputation.co.uk/blogs/). It identifies concepts associated with subjects (e.g. if you search Cricket as a subjects) and provides insights (lists) into new, emerging and most significant concepts. I just wonder if this is a route for experimentation by back tracking to the blogs that are about concepts and their context. A large part of the context is also provided by LSA. This would provide both empirical and replicable evidence of societal interest in subjects and constructed objectivity.

Its an area of research that has yielded insights that go quite a long way to prove Georg Simmel's theory (about 100 years after he offered it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G._Simmel).

David

Justin

In your conclusion you talk about the need to create a network of people connected to the company, but also connected to each other.
I recently did some research into online communities/social networks to try and figure out how PR could become part of the conversation in these thriving communities. I made a recent post about this (justin.prblogs.org) and would love your thoughts. I think it coincides with your point about using common people linked together in a network as a new way of communicating.

John Cass

Understanding what references a blogger has to provide, in order for a blog reader to measure and trust the credibility of a blog writer is an interesting question for corporate bloggers. Even more so on a global scale. I think that authority and credibility is important to an audience, and therefore broadly measuring a reader’s requirements for blog credibility.

I was thinking that a way to assess a reader’s requirements for credibility would be to set up a research project, where an article with a number of credible references is used as a research object. We might reduce the number of references, and attributions creating a number of articles with a varying degree of references. After building several similar samples of readers, the different articles would then be shown to each group. Through this process we might compare each group’s opinions of the objectivity of each article.

Elizabeth Albrycht

I am so pleased with all of you for adding your thoughts on this. You know you've written a good post when people can riff off of it in so many different ways!

David - LSA does indeed sound interesting. There is a cover story in BusinessWeek this week about the use of math in many fields, including marketing. Interesting reading.

One of the topics that I am noodling on was touched on by both you and Justin -- it is the need to take into account community interaction. How do groups of people form in an organic/emergent way, and then, even more interesting, how do they learn to cooperate? This cooperation is important if we start to talk about collective intelligence. Can you design a community in such a way that it is conducive to knowledge creation, and, even more important, conducive to making real change happen in the world (action). Now, I am not talking about designing from top down, really, but I suspect that there will always emerge leaders who will guide a group towards a constitution (an accepted group of rules). All of the experiments in social networking (some referenced by Justin), will provide some insight here (and represent fodder for research projects!).

John - that project sounds very interesting - maybe for the SNCR later this year. It might reveal some interesting general trends/factors that shows how people judge. I read this a.m. about how it takes approximately 1/20 of a second for people to make a judgment of a website's design. I wonder how long it takes to make a judjment of content credibility!

David Phillips

I would like to comment further on your questions: How do groups of people form in an organic/emergent way, and then, even more interesting, how do they learn to cooperate? This cooperation is important if we start to talk about collective intelligence.

A balding old lecturer (and you might guess who) can demonstrate how relationships and groups are formed by interrupting a lecture by give a rose to a pretty young member of the audience.

Instantly the recipient and lecturer relationship is changed. The girl blushes, the lecturer grins.

The rest of the audience immediately assesses the meaning of this action and create their own understandings as to the new relationship in an 'arora borealis' of assumptions about this relationship.

The exchange of the explicit token (the rose) is significant, so too are all the connotations - that is,....... the implicit values that such a token may have.

A token like a rose, has a value that is inferred or is a metaphor. After all, a rose is but a stick topped with a dying flower.

The rose-token is, in itself is insignificant, but the values individuals attached to a rose changes its perceived value.

A similar effect can be archived with a smile, wink or other signal. Whereas the rose is tangible, the smile, wink are intangible.


Should the same lecturer offer a twenty pound note instead of a rose, the nature of the token is different and so too would be the reaction of the recipient and the audience. The token is important too.

Both rose and note are gifts but the implied meanings and resulting relationships would be very different. The nature of tokens and their values, in a relationship is significant.

But here is the strange thing. Because the people in the lecture theatre all see the presentation of the rose, they have a common investment in the idea and form a social group. It is a group than can come together at any time and make common cause (gossip in this case – much better than remembering the academic reasons behind the demonstration) they are bound together by the rose-token and a number of values they believe they all hold in common. Georg Simmel first explicated this phenomena.

I think that this token/value/culture/communication channel is where public relations works and works best which is why I think you paper was so important.

The key here are our cultural notions. We have a view of roses and currency. I wonder if its the same on Easter Island?

In the lecture theatre, the audience subscribes to a culture which allows me to give a rose to a girl. On the campus outside, it would be in a different culture and the meaning would be different and the Lord only knows what would happen if I proffered a twenty pound note!


This is a form of relationship management that has, and deals in values. In some instances this value is financial which can be demonstrated by the financial effects of loosing or enhancing relationships. But these values extend beyond just financial considerations.

So when we podcast, blog or use wiki's we offer tokens within a culture. We have to think about the networked community and consider what we mean by the explicit content in the interactive culture and the sub cultures that are present as well. But beyond the initial offering the true mutual value is perceived and adjusted by both the sender and receiver in the subsequent conversation.

This is why I believe that we have to understand what relationships are and how, for a networked and interactive generation practitioners have to study what they mean by the relations part of public relations and understand what is at stake.

David Phillips

Thanks for the Business Week heads up.

Yes this is exactly the space I am in.

Lets suppose I was to give you a list of the key concepts in a subject in the bloggersphere or the online media and let you select any three to compare thier occurence in the last day, week, month or year .... would that help planning/ Especially if the sources of those concepts where also available like an old fashioned press list.

I only need a little investment to complete the work as i am doing it part time and funded out of consulting revenues.

It looks very hopeful now.

David

note

"I was thinking that a way to assess a reader’s requirements for credibility would be to set up a research project, where an article with a number of credible references is used as a research object. We might reduce the number of references, and attributions creating a number of articles with a varying degree of references. After building several similar samples of readers, the different articles would then be shown to each group. Through this process we might compare each group’s opinions of the objectivity of each article."

Good ideas, Ithink this is exactly the space I am in.

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