Category Archives: COMM506

A quick guide to work and study without Internet access

I was on a business trip in Europe for 9 days. 9 days that I’ve spent without regular Internet access and networking, checking my email and social media accounts only accidentally (yay to Starbucks and Ville de Narbonne for free daily 1-hour Internet access).

CaptureI had a couple of work-related issues that have happened during my absence and had to be managed quickly in social media channels to prevent potential negative impact on company brand. In addition to that, I had to read different articles (for COMM 506 and COMM 597 courses), as well as prepare written responses to courses topics. It was excruciating, but I’ve managed to resolve the majority of the issues. How?

Here’s the quick guide on resolving the work and study-related issues without regular Internet access.

  1.     Finding the Internet (ofc!)

Ask the locals to show you the places with free Internet access (alternatively – look for the Free WiFi sign). Usually the time you can be online in such places is limited to 1 or 2 hours. However, when you’re there, you can check emails, download all the information you need to read and check phone numbers of the people you might need to connect with. Read the rest of this entry

10 Master Ideas of Social Networks: brought to you by MACT 2013 Cohort!

Charles Kadushin pointed out that there are 10 master ideas of social networks, and we explored each of them in details during this term.

We found out that social network theory is about interaction and relatedness between different social units and can be applied to any social level. For example, here social networks theory is used to explain the conflict between different social strata and here – to help people succeed in personal branding.

We also discovered that we can display social networks as graphs and diagrams to better understand their nature, and researched relationships in triads, which are considered the molecules of social networks. In addition to that, we understood what homophily is and how this social network principle can manifest in different situations.

We analyzed the reasons that motivate people in networks to stay connected and found out that different types of online social networks serve to fulfill different needsThe way people use social networks varies as well. We have also proposed different ways to ignite relationships in social media.

Position in a network is another master idea that is important for the social network analysis. We partitioned organizational networks and analyzed them through the lens of social networks theory.

Six degrees of separation and small world concept have also attracted our attention. We read about Milgram’s experiments and discussed further research. We have also analyzed the way different ideas diffuse in social networks and explored the factors behind.

Last, but not least, we talked about the concept of social capital and discussed how it can be turned into financial capital.

At the end of the course each of us produced a video where we tried to apply these master ideas of social networks to real world. The whole list of videos can be found here. Enjoy!

Video: Social Networks and Situation in Ukraine

Social networks theory can help us understand and explain the ongoing processes in societies all over the world. In this video I apply network theory to analyze the dynamics of protests in Ukraine, from Euromaidan to situation in Crimea.

This video was created for COMM506 course, which is an integral part of the MACT program (University of Alberta). You can also check my original Prezi here.

Hope you will like my video! Let me know what you think about it in comments below 🙂

Social Capital and You

I bet you’ve heard the term “social capital” a zillion times. Over the last decade it became another corporate buzzword that is mindlessly used everywhere. “Build your social capital”, “reap social capital benefits”, “invest in social capital” and even “social capital and you” – how often did you see articles or pages with titles like that? For instance, Google finds 124 million results for the query “how to build social capital”.


However, a lot of people do not know what “social capital” is in reality. In popular culture social capital is usually defined in economic terms and implies getting some advantages or benefits via communication. According to Kadushin, the theory of social capital has two underlying assumptions: Read the rest of this entry

Netwar and battle of the story

Looking back at the events in Georgia, Libya, Syria and now Ukraine, you might have noticed that the conflicts there have a new component. They are characterized not only by traditional military warfare, but also by involvement of other different structures in conflict. These structures are decentralized and rely heavily on usage of modern information and communication technologies to reach their goals. The confrontation between these structures happens mostly in cyberspace and is more social by nature. In other words, it goes beyond cyberwar. Scholars call such conflicts netwars.

For instance, Arquilla and Ronfeldt define netwar as “an emerging mode of conflict at societal levels, in which the protagonists use network forms of organization and related doctrines, strategies and technologies attuned to the information age”. The netwar actors are very different, often stateless and geographically dispersed. They are organized in various structures, with little hierarchy, and there may be multiple leaders among them.

The emergence of netwars is a result of the digital information revolution and recent development of information and communication technologies in particular (mobile phones, emails, web sites, etc.). In order to operate efficiently, netwars’ actors need to be constantly connected to different data and communication networks, as well as have possibility to exchange the information quickly.

One of the most important aspects of netwars is a “battle of the story” – a confrontation in information space. Different versions of events are propagated in order to change public opinion and, as a result, make adjustments to government policy. Experts say that one of the greatest “battles of the story” took place during the Russia-Georgia war of 2008. All sides of the conflict manipulated the information, launched cyber attacks and blocked communication channels. This summer I created a prezi about this case:

Georgia-Russia war. An information control story. by Tanya Erofeeva on Prezi

Click the image to open Prezi

Aren’t you impressed by the magnitude of this netwar? For instance, I am. The other thing that I’ve learned is that we shouldn’t believe blindly anything we hear or see both in traditional communication channels and online. In order to understand real state of affairs in modern conflicts, we should get information from different sources first and then analyze it ourselves. Otherwise, we risk becoming pawns in political games and acting as transmitters of faulty and biased information. If you ask me, I do not want to become a netwar actor. What about you?

Network theory and situation in Ukraine

First of all, I think that what is happening at the moment in Ukraine is horrible; in fact, it’s a tragedy not only for Ukrainian and Russian people, but also for the whole world. I still hope that the conflict can and will be solved without violence, in a peaceful manner.
Nevertheless, when I was following the story in the news, I understood that we could actually use the network theory principles to understand the conflict dynamics in southeastern regions of Ukraine.

So, in this post I would like to avoid politics, discussions about who’s right and who’s wrong, as well as calling names, and look at the situation from the positions of social networks scholars instead.  My small research is based on the information available on different Ukrainian and Russian web sites, discussions with friends in Ukraine, as well as on some reports in Western press.

As we know, the whole population of Earth can be described in terms of social networks. This enormous network consists of myriads of different more or less dense clusters connected with each other by strong or weak ties, as well as of structural holes.

The dense clusters are usually formed on the basis of homophily principle (i.e. some common attributes, such as connection, friendship and even language). Propinquity (often geographical) is another characteristic of network clusters. These properties of social networks help to develop a sense of “trust” among their members, as well as generate social support, cohesion and embeddedness, in other words, make people feel themselves  as a part of one group and support group decisions.  Read the rest of this entry

Is a small world getting even smaller?

In 1967 Stanley Milgram, an American social psychologist, conducted a series of experiments to study the nature of “small world” – a phenomenon produced by the overlap of personal social networks. For instance, he tried to find out the average path length for social networks of people in the US. He sent out 160 packages to randomly selected individuals in Kansas and asked them to deliver the package to a person living in Boston, Massachusetts. Since the senders didn’t know the package recipient personally, they were allowed to forward the package to somebody they knew on a first-name basis and who were likely to know the final recipient. The first package reached the recipient in Boston via only two people. However, on average the delivery chain consisted of 5 people. That’s how the theory of “6 degrees of separation” appeared. It suggests that anyone is 6 or fewer steps away from any other person in the world.

One possible path of a message in the “Small World” experiment by Stanley Milgram in 1967. Image credits: Ageev Andrew

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Lost in translation

This week I would like to share with you some thoughts about the behavior of people in online social networks inspired by the discussion in our COMM506 wiki. As we know, language serves as one of the factors that make people feel that they belong to one group. It is an important factor that fosters the development of social networks based on the homophily principle, networks that can be characterized by dense ties between its members.

When we register on any social networking site, as a first step we usually connect with our friends and relatives, i.e. members of our small network with dense ties. Eventually, our online network grows and we connect with people we work with, as well as meet in different situations (professional conference participants, suppliers, etc.). Taking into consideration the effects of globalization, we can suppose that these people can speak different languages and belong to different cultures. Sometimes we also start to follow well-known people that are of interest to us (scholars, celebrities, political figures, etc.), but in general we do not have a reciprocal relationship with them.

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How to make your C-Suite go social?


Developing digital presence of C-Suites is crucial for company’s image. Employers are on social networks, business partners and customers are on social networks, and what is even more important – competitors are on social networks. However, less than 1/3 of top CEO’s are on social media (source: Forbes).

Companies where CEOs are present in social media and use it to connect with all the shareholders are more successful in many ways than those who don’t. According to the 2013 BRANDfog report, “innovative C-Suite and senior executives are at the forefront of social engagement, utilizing social media to attract new talent, deepen brand loyalty, increase purchase intent, and establish brand transparency.” At the same time, in general CEOs are often reluctant to join social media because of potential risks and unwillingness to adapt to greater transparency and changes. So how can we motivate C-suites to participate?

Kadushin, one of the most renowned social networks analysts, mentions that “keeping up with the Joneses”, i.e. motivation to compare oneself with others in the same network, is one of the fundamental aspects of social networks. We can suppose that this motivation is stronger for those network members who have already achieved a lot (like CEOs). So, if we give our C-suites a person to keep up with, maybe they will go social just for the sake of this competition?

Klout score can be used as a simple tool to measure C-suites presence on social media. In addition to it, Klout will allow them to keep track of “the Joneses”’ success. The only problem is to find the “Joneses”. i.e. a right person to compete with (this should be definitely another CEO that they are aware of and who has a strong presence in social media).

How do you think, will this work? What are your ideas?

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