This is the first to the panel sets to look at one of our major themes, the social impacts of APPs.  In the last week I have had several people mention that they like texting rather than talking (the phone call) as they feel more in control.  This issue of control of image and situation appears to be central factor or motive driving the current use of APPs.  What makes it perplexing is that any number of studies point out that people are actually disclosing a lot more about themselves at a very personal level online at the same time they want more control.

This is a major theme in the BreakUp 2.0 studies: that relationships collapse due to personal information disclosed on social media sites, especially photos that then get misinterpreted (?) by the significant other.  From my POV as a dinosaur the puzzle is why post it at all if it can lead to issues?

The imperative to post every aspect of our lives for public (or more accurately, the select public) consumption seems almost to have become a need that has to be satisfied, with potential consequences not in the equation.  Even more striking is that this is not based on close social proximity, but rather on digital relationships.

When you look through the panels you will likely note the emphasis on 15-18 year-olds, which is a reflection of the literature rather than a critical demographic group.

Think over what changes you would make if talking about your colleagues (undergraduate college students)—would the analysis look the same, or be different?  How?  This is an example of using the critical thinking from the Learning training on these panels.

I really like Schomaker’s discussion of ‘colonizing’ in the context of the avatar (panel 4) as she makes it clear that we construct our digital image—it’s not a passive process.

The second key concept here is that which came up during the last election cycle here in the U.S., that of the perceptual bubble.  The narrowing of POV seems like a rather obvious scenario today, but it’s important to remember that WEB 2.0 was based on global dissemination of information, broaden one’s horizons—not narrow them.  So how did Wikipedia, the Gutenberg Project and Zuckerberg’s vision of Facebook from 10 years ago turn into the perceptual bubble?

At this point we are probably too much still within the situation to be able to adequately analyze it, but these issues are central to the need for more research like what we’re looking at this semester.  It also points out the need to look at older social interaction platforms (which some of you are familiar with), especially online gaming and virtual worlds—both of which have major functions as social platforms.

Work done on clans/factions in World of Warcraft and Eve Online, along with work on communities in Second Life (think of Pleasantville) seem to have suggested the ‘narrowing’ of Web 2.0 into very small discrete communities.

As you look through this and the next (5C Social Behavior) panels try projecting where you see all this going in the next 5-10 years.


Please look through both Module 4A (APP World) and Module 5A (Social Media)in hindsight this will should all be in 1 set of panels.

The first key takeaway actually goes back to the ‘history’ section at the beginning of the semester—the stunningly short time that all this has taken to kick in.

The second key takeaway is the ubiquity of many of these APPs—most notably Facebook.  From Zero to over 1.2 BILLION in less than 15 years.  Compared to any technology it’s a stunning number, especially in such a short period of time.  Even more shocking is that it is the social APPs that dominate—the technology by which we communicate with others and present ourselves to the world.  If there ever was evidence that humans are social animals, this is it.

Another striking example of the accelerated rate of change is that WeChat presentation on Vimeo mentioned in the group post (at  Not only is it an excellent analysis, but I think for most American users it is always a shock to realize that we are way behind the curve in many of these technologies, especially the social ones.  Try to envision some of the economic and social (especially economic) impacts if WeChat comes to dominate here as in it does in China.  Your jobs-careers may be strikingly different from what you envision today in just a few years if the Chinese are any example, and I should note that the same phenomena can be seen anywhere in East Asia (South Korea, Japan, Singapore…).

You can see the same phenomena when you read your Miller’s Facebook as what was then new (just 10 years ago) is now almost passe.  As we’ll see in the next installment, all of this has enormous implications when you look at individuals and groups (including all of us) are trying to define appropriate social norms and behaviors while constantly running to stay up with technological change.

The complex impacts of hyper-accelerated change is having on people and relationships is both poorly understood and extremely difficult to study.  As a social researcher, by the time I develop the research question and figure out how to collect the data I need, the target has moved off onto another platform or another population.

As we will see later, this may have some bearing on the striking persistence of Second Life as a social virtual world—the fact that change is relatively limited—you can leave for a couple of years and then come back to ‘the same’ may be in part responsible for the continued (limited) popularity of the site.

Module 3A: Cell Phone

As you can see, this is an extremely short panel set and I’m thinking that it should be modified to larger related topic—phablets?  I’m open to suggestions, as while I don’t see a huge number of tablets on campus [it seems to either be phones or laptops], when you are out and about, I see a lot of them.  In addition, I frequently see students with laptops on while accessing their phone.  My current guess (very likely inaccurate) is that the sequence is: tablet when little, graduate to smartphone at 7-8 years old, laptop at college—added to phone.

If I’m right, then it helps to explain a phenomena we are noticing more with undergraduates nationally—while students are very effective on a small set of APPs, they have more difficulty than expected when using more complicated computer-based software and with computer/digital logic (moving items from Google Drive to Dropbox for example).

The key with this topic is that of portability—24/7 connectedness.  Keep this material in mind as we move in to the next set of panels dealing with the social impact of Applications and social media, where this portability and persistently-on aspect have been critical.

Studies suggest that there one very powerful motivation to move to new social media platforms is that of group identify—for the group to use the new platform before everyone else finds out about it—to be on top of what’s hot, what’s trending in social APPs.

One of the main complaints about Facebook is its ubiquity—it’s been around forever and everyone uses it.  This suggests that social APP usage has become a significant marker in group acceptance and identity, in the way that clothing, colors or piercing were key markers 10 years ago.  To the concern of phone makers, it is starting to look like the APP is surpassing the type of phone as the key social indicator—what social media you use is becoming more significant than what you use it on [iPhone8, Samsung or HTC…].

MODULE 2B: Physical-Digital

Look over this material carefully as it is central to the discussions for the rest of the semester.  There are two key concepts in this set of panels:

  • The increasingly arbitrary and artificial distinction between “physical” reality [real world] and “digital” reality [artificial world]. Especially when looked at from a cross-cultural perspective, the distinction becomes more limited to the American world view and value system and much less a concrete, universal distinction.  This is the central theme in panels 2-4 [blurring of realities].
  • The not very subtle economic [i.e., for profit] engine that drives most of social media. In most cases people seem blissfully unaware of the market forces that shape their behavior, especially as it relates to “free” social APPs.  Panels 5-7 [economics of digital realities] focus on this issue.
  • The last set of panels (8-9) [near future] move this into the next 10 years or so. This is pulled from a number of sources including and Frank Diana’s blog.  As with earlier material, note the very short timeline for major changes and the social implications.  From your own POV, think of how these will impact you in the next 5-10 years—this all links back to the Learning material I sent out yesterday.  The skill sets needed to successfully navigate the next 10-20 years are clear, but the number of job seekers with them is very small.  The near future can be seen as a potential disaster or a potential opportunity.

MODULE 2A: Theory-Methods

This consists of the short panel set outlining some general concepts that you need to look at the material in detail.  For more specifics on theoretical approaches I attached the B1 Theory module and B2 Qualitative Methods module used in my classes.

These provide the details for the Dig Realities panels.  The last panels deal with business/costing issues, which are central to understanding many of the moral-ethical decisions made in the tech industry, especially in regards to social media.  These also tie back into the idea of “Free APPs” versus for-profit companies and social media.

Think of this set as a set of potential tools that you want to be aware of, so that you can recall them when you need an overall intellectual model.

Leamnson Results and Learning Skills Module

First up, the Leamnson results.  If you look at the panels, you will note that it was a good survey size of Fall Day CUH students, at N=73.  There are several key points in the results:

  • Social media is the main time drain for CUH students—with no variation between intro and upper-division students. Even more compelling was the ambivalence you have (collectively) towards social media, seeing it as a social requirement but seeing as a major factor of emotional and social stress.  Somewhat unique to the Pacific, it was also frequently noted as a way that relatives micro-manage your affairs long-distance, another major source of stress.  It’s important to place this within the time-disruption findings, that it takes 25-30 minutes to get back on-task after media disruption.  If there is emotional input, that number goes up radically.  So your ability to get quality work done on time is seriously compromised by the dominance of social media.
  • Most upsetting to those of us who are academics, CUH students only spend the same amount of out-of-class time on course material as that spent sitting in class. At best there was a 1:1 correlation between in-class/outside-class time—note that this includes readings, assignments, everything.  From my end of that equation I don’t see how students can gain knowledge of the material, but that’s your numbers.
  • The ONLY difference in the numbers wasn’t between lower and upper-division courses, but whether they were required or not. Required courses you spend the absolute minimum of your time on—but on elective courses you spend significantly more time.  In the end, you take away a lot more knowledge from the courses you choose to take than from the courses you have to take.


LEARNING SKILLS MODULE: Better titled ‘Being Employable’

These are the list of skills you need to have [taken from a number of sources and also from my own background as a consultant].  To put this in context, think of the robot barrista vid I sent out.  If you work at Starbucks that’s not competition you want to see.  Many of the careers you will be in haven’t been invented yet, and many of the careers around now will be gone or seriously morphed within 10 years.  Statistically, you will be changing jobs every 4-6 years, and changing CAREERS every 10-12 years.  So knowing how to learn will keep you employable in the future.

Key Points:

  • You have to develop these skills until they become habits—at best, permanent habits that you automatically use on almost all occasions. If you have to consciously think to use these skills then you haven’t trained or used them enough.
  • You should have been trained in these from your K-12 education experience, but as far as we can see, it never happened. Much of this appears to be the result of family and other social groups outside of the formal school system dropping the ball on training you, but the Educational system also failed by emphasizing short-term memory skills (no child left behind measures for example).  End result is most of you don’t have these skills in any functional way.
  • During the Semester we will go through some strategies to help you build up this skill set, though it’s trickier online vs. sit-down. So we’ll have to see how it goes.  This means that I need feedback from you when you don’t get something, want clarification, alternatives, more detail—whatever.
  • The Assessing Thinking bullets are those developed for what is sometimes called active listening, and should be used whenever material [like this class material] is presented to you.
  • Being comfortable with the Educational Skills is a major factor in being an attractive job candidate, so practice them.

We will be getting into the techniques of how-to next week