Today Blogging Alone identifies investors in soical capital. Weblogs as a new technology for communication are, changing the nature and process of opinion formation in the public sphere.
For example look at Dave's post of Ed Cone question; Why is there not more buzz in web logs about Tom Delay's use of his access and influence to get Texas 5 more Republican seats in the next congress? Did Tom Delay use his influence to get the Department of Homeland Security to track and monitor the 50 Texas house Democrats that left the state of Texas in order to kill the redistricing bill? If he did how do you feel about it? I heard the story this morning but untill that post had not really given it much more thought. Ed was able to store that information in the blogging ecosystem in a way that allowed me access and time to learn more and reflect more deeply on what I think.
Norm formation in web logs results form the storage and retrivial and even manipulation of information. Contemplation takes time. In this way I was able to replay the news giving me time to think and even easy access to invigate more deeply at the edge of the social influence network called the blogsphere.
Who are the web loggers and what is their role in society?
From IIkka Tuomi's paper Emerging Research topics on Knowledge Society I read that though the ages architecture of oru towns, cities, public buildings and private spaces act in ways that also enable the storage and access to information. A study of these physical spaces shows how humans construct them in ways that controll the circulation and access of information and knowledge. Structures are placed or arranged in space for either the exclusion of outsiders or to insure inclusion of its community members to the flows of communication and information necessary to drive their econimic activities.
Ito's paper talks of the notion of public sphere where members with access make their views visible and available for critism by others. The foundaton for ligimid democracy is access to this puplic fourm in a way that it is available to all its members and that the members agree to work together to a shared goal of future coperation.
Web logs are similar to these architectural forms in their ability to store information and provide controll over the flow that information to its members and restricts outsiders in some ways to the access of that same information. First to even be a member of this community even if just a reader you need access to the internet. Remember from Douglas Williams paper, successful communities are those that recognize the importance and find ways to improve the social outcomes of their leasted advantaged members.
Second, to make your views show up in this public sphere you must have made the choice to become an active participant, in short you need to blog. Choosing to blog involves spending money on the tools and investing the time in learning how to use the technology. It is a clear example of an individual choice to invest in one's personal stocks of social capital. I made that choice last July when I finialy realized that to play you have to pay and I bought a copy of Radio Userland.
That was the start of my personal investment in the social capital stock market. Some of the readers may know that for the last 9 months I ahve been continuing that experiment in social capital that has resulted in the public release of a blogging tool that makes blogging easer for people like me called FM Radio with enhanced SocialDynamX. I recomment that if you are going to blog, you should use FM Radio -- this is a tool built through social capital and the group we have developed enchorages you to gain not only from the construction of social capital, but allows you to participate as well.
Now I place that resedue of our teams creativity, inovation, and cooperation in the public sphere open for public critism. Today I want to finish by telling you what I have learned about the question I earler ask. Who are the bloggers?
I am learning that this is a great social way to meet new people. I ask for the email before they can start the evaluation. I have been trying to find their blog and read about their interest and then write them a personal note asking them to tell me what they like and don't like about our work. In this short very non scientific study I clearly see the corrilation between human and social capital.
I am finding great intrest in web logging from peoples who are in occupations where they meet and work with lots of people every day. Occupations like doctors, laywers, teachers, journalist, and youth ministers. Oh and the one Marketing guy from Microsoft.
In the course of our conversation I am watching and studing their request and description of how they want to integrate this new technology for communication to better meet their work needs. I clearly see that commonly as part of their training the web loggers are in occupations where they record or log their social interactions with the people they work with each day. For example doctors in a hospital keep a chart that is a written log of their enteraction with their patients. These charts store the information in a way that can be shared or handed off to another member of their work network in order to solve the problem they both share. Laywers, and Journalist likewise use and deeply value their social skills necessary for them to solve problems they are assigned to solve as part of their work. They share a deep understanding that investments they make in communicating well with others, improving their social skills will provides great benifits to both themselves and society.
From Edward Glaeser work on a framework to understand the formation of social capital I remember this. Social capital can best be thought of as a stock which will yeild both market and non market returns over a given time period. Market returns are the combination of social skills and network connections that will help the inverstor to peform more succdssfully in their jobs. Like for a journalist earning the trust and confidence of a new source and a commiment to keep the identity of that source confidential. Non-market returns are many thing all that the investor still values that resul from the individuals invenstmen in social capital like happiness from a game of chess or friendship and a sense of belonging.
I think it is no accedent that in this ongoing experiment in social capital I continue to meet and teach the next wave of addoptors I will continue to see an extremely strong connection between, education, trust, and increased participation in the civic activity we call blogging.