Archive for September, 2008

The power of Social Networking

I’ve decided that my capstone (which is akin to a thesis, in case anyone doesn’t know) is going to focus on doulas. So, to figure out my problem space, I wanted to ask some women who are doulas and women who’ve used doulas some questions.

I put a note up on my Facebook page explaining what I was looking for.  A couple of friends from my undergrad days responded almost immediately.  One had used a doula, the other knew some.  They offered to give my email address to doulas they know.

That was on Sunday night.  Now, just 4 days later, I have received almost 20 replies from doulas or women who’ve used them.  And, all I did was put up a note that took me a couple of minutes to write and post!

In my research plan, I had figured that I’d need a couple of weeks to recruit women.  And, I was only planning on maybe a dozen for the pre-research (what I’m doing now).  But, all of these women have said they’re willing to participate even further in my study (which will be when I get IRB approval and figure out what the next step is) and some even said they could give my email address to other doulas they know.  So, I’m even ahead on recruiting for future studies!

Every single one of the women have been so enthusiastic and supportive.  It’s obvious they had beautiful experiences with or as doulas.  This group of women are incredible!!

I have goosebumps.  I’m am amazed, overjoyed, and encouraged!

However, now, I must stop writing this post so I can analyze their responses and get started on the proposal that’s due on Tuesday.

Trying something new

I’m in my third week of classes, and I’ve decided to try something new: I am not going to take my laptop to any of my classes.

When I started taking classes last year, I took my laptop to every one (except one in which my prof requested they not be used) so that I could effectively take notes.  I type much faster than I write.  And, my handwriting is really crappy.  And, I so rarely use pen and paper anymore, my hand would actually get tired by the end of a 75-minute class.

But, I have to be honest and say that the laptop enabled me to not pay as much attention sometimes as I should have been.  Since I can connect to the ‘net wirelessly anywhere on campus, it was so easy to check my email or read some Twits or Google something when I should have been taking notes.

Also, if the wireless wasn’t working well (which seemed to be pretty frequent last year, but has improved this year), I would spend time diagnosing and fixing the problem when I should have been taking notes.

Oh, and then there was my almost-OCD obsession with formatting my notes.  I had to make the bullet points line up and the sentence structures match (a throwback to my journalism days).  Yeah, I knew that probably no one else in the world would ever see my notes, but they still had to be perfect.  So, while the instructor could have been saying something life-altering, I was busy trying to insert a text box.

Last week, my coworkers needed to use my laptop while I went to a class.  And, while I was laptop-less, I discovered that I was having more rich, fulfilling conversations with the instructor and fellow students.  I was paying attention more to the content and not the structure.

I didn’t take my laptop again to a different class today.  Same thing…I was contributing more and taking away more.

I still hate my handwriting and I still hate the way a pen feels in my hand.  But, for now I’m going to give it a shot.  I went back to school (and am paying for it with my hard-earned money) so that I could learn and become a better professional.  So, I need to take control and do what is necessary to do those things.  If that means letting my laptop sit at my desk while I’m in class, then so be it.  It, and Twitter and email and Facebook and MySpace and Google will all be there when I get back to my desk!

CMC and sports

I am participating in two fantasy football leagues. I should mention that I’ve never played fantasy football before.  In fact, football is not really something I enjoy….well, used to anyway LOL

I am married to a sports nut, so I’m exposed to a lot of sports.  And, being the Hoosier that I am, I am crazy about basketball, especially NCAA (Go Hoosiers!!!).  But, I never really paid much attention to other sports.  I love attending live games, but watching baseball or football on TV was always boring to me.

So, why am I in two FF leagues?  Well, I started a new job a couple months ago, and everyone I work with is in a leaugue.  So, I decided to join as a way to build solidarity…to have something to talk to them about.  And, after joining that one, when the call came out for the second one, I figured one more couldn’t be that hard to manage.

So, now that I’m in two leagues, I find myself watching football with my husband.  Before, he would watch and I would read or surf the ‘net or knit or call my girlfriends on the phone.  But, now I’m actually paying attention!

Well, last night was the opening game at Lucas Oil Stadium between Da Bearsssssss and the Colts.  Now, if I had to say what my favorite team was, it would be the Colts.  I’ve seen more Colts games than any other team, and I’ve actually seen them live when they were at the RCA Dome. But, last night, I had to root for the Bears, because I have them as my Defense and Desmond Clark as my TE in one of my FF leagues.

What’s all this got to do with CMC, you ask? Well, last night as we were watching the game, I realized how pervasive CMC is in the sports world.  Every time there was a great play (can you say SAFETY?!), my husband received two or three text messages on his phone, while at least 2 or 3 people in my “social network” were tweeting about it on Twitter, and still more were updating their Facebook or MySpace profiles with references to the plays.  Also, I had my FF site open and people in our league were posting messages to the board.

So, in the course of a few hours, I watched the plays of one game be broadcast across four separate modes of CMC.

One of the people I follow on Twitter posted that he was looking forward to being able to root for the Colts again after the game was over, which were my sentiments exactly!

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but to me it was an interesting observation. The pervasiveness of sports talk through CMC made it seem like fantasy football is huge (and, yeah, maybe it is), yet feeling like part of a select community made the world seem a bit smaller.

Crushed Twitter expectations

I’m taking a class in “computer-mediated communication (CMC)”.  We met yesterday for the first time.  As with all classes on the first day, it was a simple review of the syllabus and introductions of instructor and students.

We briefly discussed different modes of CMC (email, blogs, MUDs/MOOs, microblogs, etc.) and their social consequences.  I’m excited about this class, as I’ve recently gotten more and more interested in this subject.

I’ve been using CMC for a very long time.  Since I’m old skool and graduated from college in ’94, I was around when MUDs and MOOs were popular.  I dabbled in them.  But, around 1995 I become obsessed with AOL, which was THE thing back then.  I was constantly online.  (My friends always complained because they couldn’t reach me on the phone…remember 56k modems?)  I loved to surf the net and “play around” in chat rooms and talk to “friends” via instant messaging.  In fact, I met my husband in one of those chat rooms.

Anyway, after the class, I was thinking about the influence of CMC on society. Then, I got to witness just what I was thinking about.

I am a regular on Twitter, a microblogging network.  If you’re not familiar with it, people can post (aka tweet) up to 140 characters.  That post is then able to be read by the people’s “followers”. Sometime in the afternoon, I read a tweet by twitscoop, which basically just tracks the popular trends on Twitter at the time.  The tweet noted that there was a lot of talk on Twitter about explosions at a NYC power plant.  I did a little keyword search on Twitter and saw that there were also a lot of talk about an explosion on a bus at LAX.

Wanting to find more information, I began to scour the online media sites.  But, I couldn’t find anything anywhere about the two events.  My first thought was that it was another terrorist attack (it’s not that far from September 11th!).  And, during those first thoughts, I found myself very pleased that the thing was being reported by average everyday Joes like me through Twitter.  “Who needs the media?!  We can be our own reporters!”

But, after not finding out any information on the two events for 30 minutes, I figured it couldn’t be anything serious.  CNN and MSNBC would have been all over it if it were.  Turns out it was a small fire in the power plant and at LAX, well a bus passenger accidentally hit a fire extinguisher with his luggage and caused it to explode.  LOL

So, tweeters are the reporters I was hoping they would be.  And, really, why did I have such a hope?  People are people (so why should it be….oh, wait, this isn’t the place ofr ’80s lyrics…), and they’re going to be reactionary.  And, Twitter provides a great medium to be reactionary.

So, now the question becomes, when do you believe everything you read on Twitter?