How have Washington and Baltimore quarterbacks past and present marked the highs and lows of Washington football? John Feinstein joins Kojo to discuss the highly coveted and incredibly scrutinized position.
Once a simple tool for sharing pictures and casual chatter, social networking via computer or smart-phone has grown into a world-wide phenomenon that’s entering a new, more mature phase. Texting in class is “in,” while never-ending lists of Facebook friends are “out.” We explore the ways social networking is evolving.
- Jennifer Golbeck Assistant Professor, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland
- Gerry McCartney Vice president for Information Technology and CIO for Purdue University; Oesterle professor of Information Technology.
- Miriam Salpeter Author of Social Networking for Career Success (LearningExpress,2011). Job search and social media coach with Keppie Careers.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. It's Tech Tuesday. Social networking used to be about sharing photos and chatting with friends, but it's evolved into such an essential part of so many people's lives it may not be optional anymore. If you're not linked in, you may not exist for some prospective employers or business contacts.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIInstead of banning texting in the classroom, teachers are incorporating online discussion into the lesson. And as social networking grows up, it's being refined by those who use it and those who design it. Instead of infinite friends lists, people want to share with smaller private groups, and they want more personalized information based on where they are and what they're looking for.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIJoining us to discuss the growing up of social networking is Jennifer Golbeck. She's a professor with the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Jennifer, good to see you again.
PROF. JENNIFER GOLBECKGlad to be here.
NNAMDIJoining us from studios at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., is Gerry McCartney. He is the Oesterle Professor of Information Technology at Purdue. He's vice president for information technology and CIO for Purdue University. Gerry McCartney, thank you for joining us.
PROF. GERRY MCCARTNEYThank you, Kojo. It's great to be here.
NNAMDIIt's a conversation you can join by calling 800-433-8850. Has the way you use social networking changed since you first signed on? 800-433-8850. Or go to our website, kojoshow.org. Join the conversation there. Send us a tweet, @kojoshow, or e-mail to email@example.com. Jen, social networking is still relatively new. Facebook was launched from a dorm room in 2004, yet we seemed to be moving to a new stage. What would you say are the most significant shifts that you see in social networking right now?
GOLBECKIt's really interesting to compare how things looked back in 2003, 2004, where we were just getting these new networks out there. They're a lot bigger now. Back then, the biggest networks were 20, 30 million people. Now, Facebook has over 600 million. And as more people have gotten online and used it for a longer amount of time, they're starting to figure out things that are good and things that are bad about it.
GOLBECKSo back in the MySpace days, we wanted to collect friends, like you were saying at the beginning of the show.
NNAMDII have 3,300 BFFs.
GOLBECKThat's right. And some people had, you know, over 10,000 friends on MySpace, and part of the activity was just building up the number of people on that list. Now, we're seeing people do that less. And in fact, a lot of people, me included, go through and regularly purge their friends lists. So we don't have acquaintances who we knew three years ago accessing a lot of the public information.
NNAMDIOr people we don't know at all. (laugh)
GOLBECKThat's right. That's right. There's some people, and you don't know how they ended up on that list. People are becoming a lot more privacy conscious, and this isn't just in the scary sense, someone's going to rob my house because they find out I'm not home, but we may not want all of our colleagues who know us on Facebook seeing our pictures from the beach vacation, right?
GOLBECKSo we're thinking about who gets access to this information, how we can share it in the right social contexts of our life, and a lot of the new tools that are coming out there are addressing these sorts of concerns where people want to share things with the right people that they're friends with, instead of sharing everything with everyone.
NNAMDIGerry McCartney, do people, in fact, want less random, more specific services from their social networks now?
MCCARTNEYI think, Kojo, right now, that's what they're looking for. I mean, early adoption is always kind of a scattered approach with people trying all kinds of things, and then as the market, any market for technology matures, people get more focused and suddenly realize, well, that was good but maybe too much of it is not such a good thing.
MCCARTNEYSo, you know, the illustration you make about having many hundreds if not thousands of friends in a period when you could probably number your friends in the tens or dozens sounds like a great idea until you actually have that many people who claim that kind of relationship with you. And then, you know, your attitude towards the technology matures and say now maybe the original number was more likely an accurate number.
NNAMDIJen, we mentioned the recent trend towards smaller, more exclusive social networks. What's the idea behind some of these new services?
GOLBECKWell, now that so many people are on Facebook, you can do a lot of things on Facebook that normally you would do through email, right, before we were on Facebook. And on one hand, it makes it really easy because everything is kind of concentrated in one place, but as we've adopted that, it's turned out that it's hard to do some of those things well on Facebook because everybody has access to everything.
GOLBECKSo, for example, if you want to plan a party on the weekend, you could post a message up on Facebook that you're having a party and invite a few people, but then, that's accessible to an awful lot of other people who you might not want there. So organizing events can be difficult because you may not want everybody to see this event is going on.
NNAMDIWell, can't you adjust your privacy settings on Facebook accordingly for just the people who you intend to invite to that party, or is it virtually impossible to do that or just pretty difficult?
GOLBECKIt's just pretty difficult. So I will tell my students I have my Facebook profile set up where I actively use the Facebook lists feature where you can make lists of friends, and then in your privacy settings, you can control down to the individual post which lists of friends can see it or which ones you want to exclude. So, for example, I have a list of colleagues who are my friends on Facebook and I consider them friends but I don't want them seeing those beach vacation pictures.
GOLBECKAnd so when I post them, I can exclude them from seeing that, but it is kind of technologically difficult. The functionality is there, but there's a lot of clicks and a lot of settings you have to go through.
NNAMDIAllow me to interrupt for a second because you've mentioned this twice before, what is it about these beach vacation pictures that you don't want people to see?
GOLBECKYou know, if I'm in swimwear, I don't need my colleagues to see that necessarily.
NNAMDIWhy not? Anyway...
GOLBECK(laugh) That's a different job.
NNAMDIYes. Again, you can join this conversation at 800-433-8850. It's a Tech Tuesday conversation on social networks and how they appear to be growing up and, in some respects, modifying. You can also go to our website to join the conversation at kojoshow.org. How are the wide open network sites like Facebook responding to this trend?
GOLBECKSo Facebook, I think, has actually fallen a bit behind here. Facebook has a great market advantage in that so many people are deeply invested in it. And this has allowed them to survive a lot of controversy that's come up with privacy settings and other things because people aren't just going to abandon all that investment and value that they have in Facebook, but people want some of these other things.
GOLBECKAnd Facebook is giving them a little bit but not enough, and so I think that there's going to be some big competition that maybe won't replace Facebook but that will take some of the activities that are happening on Facebook now into another domain. And that will include things like photo sharing. There are sites that will potentially be able to do it better than Facebook does and let you have more control. Event planning is another one of those.
GOLBECKLocation-based service is another one because people are really sensitive about their privacy if they're posting when they're away from home or places that they're visiting. And Facebook, I don't think has quite gotten to the privacy controls there that everyone wants to use that.
NNAMDIGerry, do you see smaller social network groups as a move toward exclusivity, privacy or both?
MCCARTNEYWell, I think the concerns about privacy are well placed. I mean, there is a -- on the one hand, there is this sense that, you know, and this started in the utopian ideals of the '70s and '80s that somehow technology would be a great leveler by allowing all people to have access to all services from any location. So that's hardly a new idea. But what's more difficult here now is that when people have those services, a lot of people's information is exposed in a way that they really don't care for.
MCCARTNEYSo whether it's, you know, my shopping habits or what I do in the evenings or a variety of activities, you know, location-dependent services are a classic example of there's great value in the information, and as a result, there's great value in holding onto that information for my own sake, for my own privacy. So what would we see going forward, I think what we're going to see is reinforcing old social patterns of small intimate groups of likeminded people coming together, and the technology enables that in a way that was limited by geography before.
NNAMDIOnto the telephones. Here is Jordan in Alexandria, Va. Jordan, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JORDANHi there, Kojo. First, I just wanted to say I love your show, and I listen to it every day. So...
JORDAN...I just want to get that out there. I'm 24 years old, and I recently tried to quit using Facebook for a little while for privacy reasons. I'd heard some pretty nasty things about their selling personal information to corporations in order to turn a profit, that type of thing. But I realized soon that it was pretty much impossible for me to do that and still keep in touch with my friends who live far away.
JORDANAnd so my question is basically -- oh, a lot of my friends when I discuss this which said that they felt that the privacy concerns are something that's going to disappear over time because as we have more and more of our private information exposed online, especially young people, you know, over a large chunk of their lives, the social norms are just going to have to change regarding the kinds of things that we expect to find out about people because everyone will have used these networks in the future or near to everyone will have information on them that's accessible somehow by someone.
JORDANAnd if they're in some sort of position that is under a lot of scrutiny, it's bound to come out. And so we're just going to have to change how we think about that (unintelligible).
NNAMDIWell, Jordan, the California State Legislature is saying not so fast. There's a bill pending there right now -- isn't there, Jen -- that would be the toughest privacy law so far in social networking. Tell us a little bit about it.
GOLBECKYeah. So I don't know the specifics of that bill, but this is a trend that we're seeing in a lot of places. And Europe, actually, has mush stricter privacy laws about who owns their personal information. A lot of the things that go on here in the U.S. just couldn't happen in Europe, and the California law is mimicking some of the trends that we see in Europe about who owns your personal information.
GOLBECKSo a company couldn't take like the information you have on your profile on Facebook and sell it to someone else. In the U.S., the -- Facebook or whoever the site operator is owns your information that you put up there, and in Europe and potentially in California with this law, you'll own that information and have control over it.
NNAMDIAnd it's my understanding that in California, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Skype, match.com, eHarmony and Yahoo! are among the companies that have signed on open letter to the bill sponsor opposing it.
GOLBECK(laugh) Not surprising, right, because their value is in all of that personal information that they control. That's the thing that they own and can make their money off of.
NNAMDISo, Jordan, there's a fight ahead in at least one state legislature and probably more.
JORDANWell, that's good to hear because I didn't really buy my friend’s argument anyway.
NNAMDIOK, Jordan. Thank you very much for your call. You too can call us at 800-433-8850. What have you learned about what you should or should not put online when it comes to either your private life or your career? 800-433-8850. Or you can send us a tweet, @kojoshow. Gerry, are the days of the wide open networks with ever longer lists of friends essentially over?
MCCARTNEYYeah, I think they are, Kojo. I mean, you just have to have a couple of experiences negative ones or know of people that's have had negative experiences to learn that this probably isn't an effective way to go forward. And these are lessons that people have learned in the past. They're from -- through different ways and learned them slower. It's true to say. And what the new technology enables us for people to -- let's put in its most positive -- learned these lessons far more quickly.
MCCARTNEYSo you put something out there, the world can see it. And, you know, once it's out there, you can never take it back.
NNAMDIJen, there's location-based social networking we talked about is growing also. What are some of the ways that that's being used?
GOLBECKThat's interesting. So -- and this gets right to the point that Gerry was just making. People have had a hard time incorporating when privacy issues and some of these other things come up with technologies. Location-based services are one of those places where a harsh lesson has been taught, I think. So a location-based service is something like Foursquare, where you can check in into a location so I could check in that I'm in your studio, and anyone who is my friend on Foursquare and, potentially, anyone who follows me on Twitter can see that I said that I'm there.
GOLBECKThis can be useful 'cause you can find other people who are around you. You can find recommendations for close-by places. But there is a site that went up a couple of years ago called Please Rob Me, and it would just mine the public feed of Twitter for any post from Foursquare and -- that would say, you know, Jen Golbeck has said that she's at WAMU, which means I'm not home. And it would look up my name in public white page directories and post my address with it because everyone knows, since I'm here at WAMU, I'm not at my house, and you could go there and steal my stuff, right?
GOLBECKSo they were doing something really, really simple but putting it on a public feed. So here's everybody who's not home right now, and here's their address. And it totally freaked people out. They ultimately took the site down 'cause they felt like they proved their point, and I think these are one those public lessons, like Gerry was talking about, that make people reconsider what sorts of public information, location-based information they wanna share on these public sites.
NNAMDIThere's another new site that just launched. It lets people share what they want to do in the future rather than what they've already done, a kind of bucket list site, if you will. Are you familiar with that? We're talking about WhereBerry, where people post activities that they'd like to do some day, like restaurants they'd like to try, movies they hope to see or events they plan to attend. Their friends can come and then make plans. Interestingly, you can log in on Facebook.
GOLBECKThat's right. So I just tried the site for the first time this week or this application, I guess, that plugs in to Facebook….
GOLBECKYeah. And it's great. So you have much lower privacy concern with something like that 'cause you're not revealing too much except for things you publicly say you wanna do. Your friends then have access to it. So, if I say, I wanna go see "Transformers 3" when it comes out, I don't know which of my friends have any interest in that kind of movies but I can post it and, since its through Facebook, the ones who are interested could make plans with me to go see it.
NNAMDIThink users of a site like that may need more protection, Gerry, even if it's -- even though it's only limited to a smaller group?
MCCARTNEYYes, and I think there are still, you know, as Jennifer points out, there's still an unawareness of the sticking power of the Internet as well. You know, that, you know, if Jennifer had posted one of those pictures that she doesn't want displayed (laugh) at some point in the past, I mean, the sad truth is, she wouldn't be able to recover that because she has no idea how many copies there are or who has them.
MCCARTNEYSo when you go to develop new tools and I think she's -- Jennifer is exactly right to say that the current crop of tools that we see and discuss right now will be replaced, either by new versions of themselves or by products from other vendors that make a much better effort upfront to get a control over what you're releasing and how you're releasing it because certainly, I think it's fair to say that tools, like Facebook, were designed with security as the last consideration as opposed to the first consideration.
MCCARTNEYAnd I think what we're going see is a new crop of tools coming that, you know, from the first, make an effort to allow some levels of control. And I think people will find them far more attractive. For the same reason, when I was a child, I can remember party lines for phones in the house, you know, people would -- and that was only sharing stuff with two or three of the families. This in theory, you know, shares with everybody who wants to go to the trouble of looking something up about you.
NNAMDIHere's Bruce in Reston, Va. Bruce, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BRUCEYes. I guess I just don't understand this over concern with privacy and why we now want the government involved, when if you don't want your information up there, then don't post it. You don't have to post your address, your phone number, every single little detail of yourself on Facebook. And Jennifer, if you don't want pictures of your swimsuit up there, why don't you just email the pictures to your select friends? What is the urge to put these things online? And I'll take the answer offline.
GOLBECKFor the record, I have no pictures of me in a swimsuit online.
NNAMDIBut it also raises the issue of the privacy or the safety of sending something by email.
GOLBECKYeah, and also the ability to aggregate information now. So, even if there's a lot of stuff I don't put on Facebook -- and actually, there's very little I put up there. So I'll have conversations and post pretty neutral pictures on Facebook. My profile is almost entirely blank. There's hardly any personal information on there exactly for this reason. But it's extremely easy to find things out about me. One of the assignments I give to my undergraduates in my social networking class is that we'll pick someone and, often, that someone is me, and try to basically cyber stalk them.
GOLBECKWhat kind of information can you find out from all these different sites? And if you use me as an example, I have a relatively public presence online though I'm very concerned and careful about my privacy. But you can find out what my address is, you can find out what I paid for my house, you can find pictures of my house on Google Maps. So there's a lot of different sites that I have no control over that own personal information about me. And so, even if I'm very careful about what I share -- yes, I can keep pictures of me swimming off the internet, but there's a lot that you can get aggregating data from other sites, which makes privacy a concern even if you don't post anything about yourself.
NNAMDIGerry McCartney, I hear you nodding yes. (laugh)
MCCARTNEYYeah, I mean, this is the other side of the sword of public records. So while, you know, we didn't like a model where decisions were made in smoky rooms by unidentified people, and we wanted to understand, you know, as a public records are produced, we should know this and we should know that, now the flip of it is exactly what Jennifer is talking about. Any public record is publicly available, so where you live, your phone number, typically, what you paid for your house, are you delinquent on your taxes.
MCCARTNEYThere's just so much information there that is already out that I think we're gonna have to step in to some of those issues as well and get a handle on, when the laws were written about publicly available data, did it really anticipate sophisticated mining tools that could extract additional value from that data? I think the answer to that is clearly no.
NNAMDIGot to take a short break in this Tech Tuesday conversation on social networking as it is growing up. Our engineer is breaking out in a cold sweat. We'll be back shortly to continue this conversation. But you can still join us at 800-433-8850. Or go to our website, kojoshow.org. Send us a tweet, @kojoshow or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Has the way you use social networking change since you first signed on? I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to this Tech Tuesday conversation on social networking. We're talking with Jennifer Golbeck. She's a professor with the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. She joins us in our Washington studio. And joining us from studios at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. is Gerry McCartney. He is vice president for information technology and CIO for Purdue University. He is also the Oesterle professor of information technology there.
NNAMDIWe're inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. And joining us now by telephone from Atlanta, Ga. is Miriam Salpeter, the author of "Social Networking for Career Success." She's a job search and social media coach and founder of Keppie Careers. Miriam, thank you for joining us.
MS. MIRIAM SALPETERThank you for having me.
NNAMDIWe've all been warned of the dangers of oversharing online. You see those concerns as legitimate, but you feel they are sometimes overblown by the media.
SALPETERI do. In fact, I think that we talked today about a lot of things to be concerned about with regard to social media. But there are a lot of positives to using social media to connect and meet new people, especially for anyone involved in a job search or starting a business.
NNAMDIHow important is social networking in a career nowadays or in job search?
SALPETERI think social networking has really gone from being optional to being imperative. As you mentioned at the top of the hour, if you're not on LinkedIn, you might as well not exist. And nowadays, other social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, are really joining the fray in terms of what are useful tools for job seekers.
NNAMDIFor some employers, if a candidate is not on a professional networking site like LinkedIn, as we said earlier, they just might as well not exist. You see the concepts of the personal and the professional as overlapping right now, something that was not true at one time.
SALPETERThat's true. In fact, today, sometimes, we think about privacy in a whole different way. The -- our personal brand, which is how we present ourselves in public, can include both aspects of our professional life and also show a little bit about what's going on in our personal life.
NNAMDIIn fact, more information, even if it's personal, you say, is not necessarily a bad thing for getting yourself noticed by an employer.
SALPETERThat's absolutely true. In fact, one important thing for job seekers to remember is that it's important expand your network in order to land to opportunities. Most jobs are found via networking. And sometimes, your brother-in-law or neighbor doesn't know someone to introduce you to. That's why I like to advise people to turn to networks, for example, Twitter, to connect with people, share insights about both personal and professional information, and possibly even connect with a potential employer over watching a sporting event or sharing tweets about a favorite television show.
NNAMDIAre there things that in one kind of career might be viewed negatively that could turn out to be a plus for another kind of career? An architect might have a quirky and creative Web page, which might work for employment that he's seeking, but wouldn't necessarily work for, say, an accountant or a lawyer?
SALPETERAbsolutely. It's always important -- and I talked about this in my book -- for job seekers to first see how they fit in terms of the network they're trying to create. Creative opportunities abound for people who are in industries where that is valued, but someone who's in a more conservative profession, for example, maybe a medical profession, would not want to be overly creative or quirky online.
NNAMDIWhat should people do to make sure they're using their social networks effectively for professional purposes?
SALPETERI like to advise clients to first do a really firm audit on their online profiles. We have mentioned that it is difficult to maintain privacy. And sometimes, privacy settings are confusing for people. I tell people never to post anything online they wouldn't want to appear on a billboard in their local town or, you know, anything they don't want people to know should not go online at all.
NNAMDIAnd, in fact, many people fail to check their own profiles to see what other people see about them.
SALPETERThat's absolutely true. It's important to try to keep an eye on what other people will see when they visit your Facebook profile, for example. Now, Facebook is showing pictures along the top of the profile. Any pictures that someone has tagged in will show up on the top of their Facebook page. So it made -- this made it even more important for job seekers to keep an eye on pictures they're tagged in in the past that might have been harder for people to find now they're front and center.
SALPETERIt's also important to set a Google Alert for -- to find out information that is available about anyone online. And people can go -- people can Google Google Alert and set up information to have Google email them whenever their name or their business or whatever they like to monitor shows up online.
NNAMDIIn case you're just joining us, Miriam Salpeter is the author of "Social Networking for Career Success." She's a job search and social media coach and founder of Keppie Careers. Joining us in our Washington studio is Jennifer Golbeck. She's a professor with the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. And Gerry McCartney joins us from studios at Purdue University in Indiana. He is the Oesterle professor of information technology at Purdue University and vice president for Information Technology and CIO for the university.
NNAMDIJennifer and Gerry, I am assuming that the students you teach in your classes are also, at some point, interested in seeking careers for themselves and interested in using social networking to help them achieve their objectives. Tell us a little bit about some of the issues that have come up.
GOLBECKYeah. I've done a class on social networking over the past few years. And just in the time I've been teaching that, it's been interesting to see the evolution among these students who are 18, 19 years old in their understanding of how things stick around online and what people will look for. When I first taught this, I did a class that we called open source intelligence, just what can we go out and find about you.
GOLBECKAnd I showed them things like the Internet archive where old versions of Web pages are archived, and people can go look for them. So even if you take something down -- and Gerry had mentioned this -- it still sticks around.
GOLBECKBy the end of that hour, they all had these pale faces and their mouths were hanging open and these looks of terror in their eyes. Now, the students understand that much better. And the way that they've been using the privacy settings available to them have become much more sophisticated, and they have been more sophisticated with it. I still think that there is not the full awareness that people need to have about how those things they post online can potentially affect them career-wise down the line.
GOLBECKSo, for example, you get a lot of undergraduates, say, experimenting with their politics. It's the right time to do that. But if you're posting up articles that are pitching your Marxist tendencies, and then four years later, you decide that's not a good idea and you wanna go work for a conservative law firm, those posts might still be around, right?
GOLBECKSo this idea of not just what would you be fine what people seeing now, but will you really want them to see it a few years from now and how will that impact you, especially in a job search, is something that I'm working on convincing them of. And a good portion of undergraduates understand this, but we still need a little more awareness there.
NNAMDIYour experiences with students, Gerry McCartney?
MCCARTNEYYeah, Kojo, I mean, I think what -- we're hovering around an idea here that's important, which is we're in a transitional phase with this kind of technology. I mean, technology is always transitioning. But these, more than any other area, are still trying to find where it needs to be. And I completely agree with Miriam with, in fact, the tools that the social media bring us are very, very powerful and very new.
MCCARTNEYAnd my own strong sense is that what we're going to see is different communities, however we define that -- they could be professional communities like medical doctors or medical doctors who work in emergency rooms, for example -- will form their own kind of culture around the way they use social media. So, for example, we've developed a tool here for research engineers called HUBzero. And it allows virtual communities to build around research topics of mutual interest.
MCCARTNEYAnd our largest one, which is for nanotechnology researchers, has 130,000 users worldwide. They self-select in. There's no personal information there, but people who build that props, their professional reputation by their presence on this site. And that's an important -- and that's a new kind of a tool that simply wasn't available to people before.
NNAMDIMiriam, you point out, as Gerry just mentioned, that doctors face special issues when it comes to sharing online. Why is that?
SALPETERI think anyone in a profession where privacy issues are concerned would need to be especially careful about what they post online. In general though, anyone needs to be aware that posting negative information, complaining about people, complaining about a boss or a client or a customer, people in all professions needs to be aware that how -- that people would be judging them based on what they post.
SALPETERAnd certainly, as we know and it has been reported in the media a lot, when people post inappropriate information, then often they wind up losing their job as a result.
NNAMDII mean, if you see pictures of your doctor doing silly things at a party, could it affect your trust in him or her?
SALPETERAbsolutely. In fact, something I've been thinking about quite a bit, when you think about employers trying to hire someone, even though it's a difficult job market, it's hard to find a good candidate who you know is a right fit. So one thing that employers are looking for is someone who they know will be appropriate, who won't embarrass them, who will represent the organization well.
SALPETERAnd I've been thinking more and more that another good reason to use social media is to demonstrate the ability to be online, to be sharing appropriate information and to demonstrate the emotional intelligence that employers are looking for in candidates.
NNAMDISo I guess that picture of me with the lampshade on my head has to go at some point. Miriam, thank you so much for joining us.
SALPETERAnd thank you very much for having me.
NNAMDIMiriam Salpeter is the author of "Social Networking for Career Success." She's a job search and social media coach and founder of Keppie Careers. We're gonna be taking a short break. When we come back, we will renew our conversation on social networking on this Tech Tuesday. If you have already called, stay on the line. We will get to your call. We still have a couple of lines open at 800-433-8850.
NNAMDIDo you think texting and online chat should be a part of classroom discussion? That's one of the topics we'll be discussing when we come back so you can start calling now 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIIt's Tech Tuesday and we're talking about social networking and how it has evolved with Jennifer Golbeck. She is a professor with the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. And Gerry McCartney, who is vice president for information technology, CIO for Purdue University and the Oesterle professor of information technology at Purdue. Taking your calls at 800-433-8850. Before I go to the telephones, Jen, one more issue, what is a backchannel, and what does it mean in the classroom?
GOLBECKSo backchannel is where people are having a conversation as something else is going on. So when I'm lecturing, my students could be having a conversation on Twitter or on chat or on Facebook, talking about things in the lecture, asking them -- asking questions of one another and having that conversation to hopefully support their understanding of what's happening.
NNAMDIGerry, Purdue University has developed its own backchannel system called Hotseat. Tell us about that.
MCCARTNEYThat's right. What Hotseat does is acknowledges a reality that's, especially in certain types of classroom situation where you have many students, perhaps several hundred, taking a class from a single lecturer that isn't using conventional models, an effective way for those several hundred students to participate.
NNAMDICan you explain to us how it works? What's happening in the classroom while -- when the professor is using Hotseat?
MCCARTNEYSure. We have a couple of different models of the way it's used. And one, for example, a faculty member will be lecturing a room, let's say, with 200 students in it and will ask the class a question. Now, in the conventional model, 10 or 15 students might take the trouble to raise their hands or offer an answer. Using the tool we've developed, Hotseat, which is available to anybody with an SMS-enabled phone, which is, as a matter of practice, all our students -- every student can contribute to -- contribute a comment to the question or to the discussion.
MCCARTNEYAnd one faculty member, for example, displays all those comments as a continuous stream on a second projector in the room. And he can pick out comments that he's interested in because they're not anonymous. We do know who says what. He can also use it retrospectively as a measure of class participation. But it enables all 200 students in the room to actually have an effective voice. So that's one example (unintelligible)…
NNAMDIAre teachers essentially co-opting what students used to be punished for texting and commenting on social networks in class, Gerry?
MCCARTNEYWell. I mean, you could certainly say that, Kojo, and, in fact, you just did. (laugh) But the fact of the matter is, you know, and I sat through classes myself as an undergraduate before there was any technology we're talking about. And most of the people in the room weren't paying any attention at all to what was going on at the front. And this is no golden or silver bullet even. This is not a magic answer.
MCCARTNEYThis is just another method of enabling people who want to participate to participate in a way that we haven't been able to enable before. The analog I like to use is ESPN's, you know, 24-hour coverage, where they will still have the two talking heads on the screen, but now they will have a banner running along the bottom and two side banners or ribbons running on either sid,e all moving at different speeds.
MCCARTNEYAnd you know what, people can actually watch all three or four of those channels simultaneously. Why? Because they're moving at different speeds. And what we've enabled here is, yes, you still have a faculty member teaching just like you still have sports commentators discussing. But you also enable people to participate simultaneously on the same topic. And we just find that in some classes, that's a very effective method.
NNAMDIJen, what do you say to people who say you're merely catering to students inability to focus on one thing like the lecture that's right in front of them?
GOLBECKWell, so when I was an undergraduate, I had a laptop that I brought to class, but I was one of few that had those. As a graduate student, a lot more of us had them. And I actually have found with my own students having computers -- and most of them do have them open and online -- that they're actually more engaged, because what Gerry said is right. There are students who just won't be paying attention.
GOLBECKAnd I always noticed with myself that the times that I would really tune out of a lecture is when there'd be some material right at the beginning and I just didn't understand it. I didn't know the term that the professor was using, or there was just some basic concept that I hadn't picked up from the reading or I didn't get. And if someone had been able to tell me what that was, right, if I had a channel where I could say, could someone explain this thing to me, it would have been able to keep me engaged a lot more in what was happening.
GOLBECKAnd I see the backchannels for my students as an ability that they have to have that kind of communication. Some of them are definitely playing video games and tweeting and interacting on Facebook, but they're also interacting that way. So if it can keep more of them understanding what I'm presenting and engaged, then I'm happy to have them do it that way.
NNAMDIOnto the telephones. Here is Leslie in Potomac, Md. Leslie, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
LESLIEHi. Yeah. This is in reference to a statement one of your guests made earlier about warning her students to watch what they post on networking sites relative to if they have Marxist thoughts or their politics are turning to more socialism or to kind of think about what they say out there. And I just find it disturbing that somebody at a university would sort of strap down a young person's free thinking and creativity.
NNAMDIHow would you find it if an employer looks at something that a young person was thinking, oh, in terms of embracing extremely right-wing politics when that young person was a 19-year-old student, five or six years later, when that student goes for a job on what might be a left-leaning think-tank?
LESLIEWell, I think, you know, you would wanna get to know your candidates and question them and, you know, in an appropriate way, find out more about them. But I also think that, you know, we were all young once and we all -- and we need to respect the fact that we have different ideas. And, you know, any time you're interviewing for -- to hire somebody, you wanna find out about them whether or not they're gonna fit in and whether they're ideals are gonna fit with what the job is. But, you know, I personally would not say that if somebody 20 years ago had some...
NNAMDIWas expressing say, pro-Nazi sentiments when they were in college. Would you hire that person to work at your think tank years later?
LESLIENo. Probably not.
GOLBECKI mean, there's a related issue here. So that was my comment. And I have no problem with my students exploring their Marxist or ultraconservative views. But the point isn't just that they should be careful about posting that. It's when you go looking for a job with an organization that, say, has different politics. It's not just that they won't take the time to interview you, because they might, and they might say, OK, you were 19 when you posted that, and clearly you're not like that now.
GOLBECKBut the fact is that your potential clients and their potential clients, if they go Google you and can find those results, that the lawyer that they're trying to hire now for their very conservative cause happens to have a public presentation of themselves with something totally incongruous online, that it's not just you thought this when you were 19, but you have this public presence representing your views when you were 19 that's still around.
GOLBECKAnd so it's not only an issue of can they look over something that you might not believe anymore. It's do they want you to have this public presence of you believing that out there. So it's really two issues.
NNAMDILeslie, thank you very much for your call. We got this email from Jonathan, Gerry. It says, "The interweaving of social networks -- combining Gmail and Yahoo!, Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn -- builds an amazingly powerful engine to build a historical profile on individuals. That's eye-opening for us. But what about the children who will document each moment of their misspent youths and their emerging opinions? Just imagine what a 9-year-old Tom Sherwood would have been tweeting."
NNAMDITom Sherwood, you should know, is our resident analyst on the politics program on Fridays. "Should we be protecting privacy or deciding how to use the information that is going to be out there one way or another? Will future employers and voters just have to be more realistic about candidates?" One of the reasons I like this email and posed the question to you, Gerry, is that we seem to be putting all of the onus on the people who are actually using these things right now and none on the possible future employers and others who will be looking at them. Shouldn't those people also be more enlightened?
MCCARTNEYWell, they should. But I think what -- one of the things we want to focus on here, Kojo, and we've kind of been beating around this bush in the conversation, is what's bad or dangerous here is the arbitrary commingling of all kinds of environments. So here's my work environment. Here's my vacation environment. Here's my private political views environment. Here's all this kind of -- all this other stuff that, before, was separated in some way by at least space, if nothing else, like I knew not to express certain opinions in the workplace 'cause they wouldn't be viewed well, whatever those opinions might be.
MCCARTNEYNow you've got everything you ever said in any context available to people. So I go back to the point I made earlier that the next set of tools will have to create walled environments for people. So, for example, our tool, Mixable, which uses -- which we use in some of our classes, a different tool from Hotseat, is walled off. You're not gonna be able to find that by Googling the people that participate in those things.
MCCARTNEYAnd that information will never be available to a broader audience because it's governed by the same rules, even though it uses social media. It's governed by the same rules that apply to all student records, which is that they are private and they're not allowed to be seen by other people. And we have to build that into the tool when we build the tool. So this sense that somehow all social media is kind of like the Wild West simply isn't true.
MCCARTNEYSome are. Some of the early ones are, and they're trying to retroactively add some security in. Now whether they can succeed at that remains to be seen. Or whether the -- you know, their reputation, actually, is tarnished because other people's are tarnished. Well, I'm not gonna use whatever simply because I know it's not a secure environment. If communities of interest grow up that can build private secure tools, then, like Miriam said earlier, social networking brings incredibly powerful functionality that those communities will want to leverage, and rightly so.
NNAMDIJen, are the faculty experimenting with back channels at your university?
GOLBECKBy default, we allow this, or a lot of us do. So we don't have any applications like what Gerry was talking about. But I actively encourage my students to be doing that in class. There are some professors who actually require their students to use Twitter either in the classroom or as part of their assignments to be posting information that's related to the coursework. So it's something that, at least in my college, we're seeing a lot of.
NNAMDIHere's Aaron in Rockville, Md. Aaron, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
AARONHi. I'm actually a colleague of Prof. Golbeck's at Maryland. And I have to say I cannot imagine her students wasting their time during her lectures on a back channel.
AARONI imagine they'd be riveted. But seriously, Jen recently did an experiment which identified people's personality attributes through their Facebook postings. And I thought this was really interesting, especially in light of all this talk about privacy. There's an old line in intelligence analysis. Amateurs study content. Professionals study traffic. So rather than focusing on, well, people posted something dumb when they were 19, could there then be the tools that would identify personality traits?
AARONHey, this person -- and my own Facebook postings probably identify me -- is a neurotic narcissist. Don't hire him. They're gonna be an annoying gossip in the workplace or what have you. And I'd be curious what you can -- both guests can say about that, both the negative and the positive.
GOLBECKAaron, you're so great. Thanks for that. (laugh) Yes. We very briefly did a research project where we asked people to take a standard personality test through a Facebook application. And then we accessed all their publicly viewable data from their profile, so not status updates, but just the basic profile information. And we quantified all of it, you know, how many characters are in the list of your favorite books, really just number-based stuff.
GOLBECKAnd we built a system that could guess your personality traits to within about 10 percent of their actual values, just from that information on Facebook. We're running another one of those studies on Twitter now where we're doing text analysis of the tweets people post, and we're getting even better results. So this gets to another question, and Aaron put it right. It's not just what specific information are you posting that someone might dislike, but what sophisticated types of analyses can we do over that whole corpus of data that can give us some insights into the kind of person you are.
GOLBECKWhat we did is really simple. But I think that there's this whole space of very advanced things that people could eventually mine out of this public record, and that's a really open space right now.
NNAMDICare to comment, Gerry McCartney?
MCCARTNEYYeah. In fact, I have to say, you know, at the risk of sounding like a broken record here, we have another tool called Signals -- which we've recently licensed to another company -- that does exactly that in large classes. One of the trials and tribulations yet strengths of an institution like Purdue is we have many thousands of students every year. And one of the things we've been able to do in large classes is predict learning outcomes, likely learning outcomes for students based on their interaction with electronic media used in the classes.
MCCARTNEYSo as early as the third week in large classes, we can warn students who are not moving at the speed that they need to be moving at to be successful. Who does this help most? It's used principally in freshman classes. It's used -- it's most effective for strong students who went to weak high schools. In other words, they don't know how fast they need to go to be successful because the speed they've gone at historically was always enough to get them an A.
MCCARTNEYAnd they find they come to an elite institution and they think they're moving fast enough, but in fact they're not. And the conventional model is they might not get their first graded assignment until the sixth or seventh week. They get a B or, God help us, a C. They've never seen such a letter in their life before for an academic enterprise. They're not good at getting help because they've never had to get help before.
MCCARTNEYSo this tool, which is incredibly popular with the students, I should say, and which is protected by the same rules as protect all student records, which means it's private to the institution, allow them to know where they stand in the class.
NNAMDIAnd the speed at which we have been moving means that we are out of time. Aaron, thank you very much for your call. Gerry McCartney, thank you so much for joining us.
MCCARTNEYThank you, Kojo. It's great.
NNAMDIJennifer Golbeck, thank you so much for joining us.
NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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