Monthly Archives: October 2006

WordPress and How I Learned to Love Open Source

I fall into the category of people who are impressed by price tags. That is to say; if something seems to cost too little, its perceived value will inevitably plummet. So when I first started to research blogging and CMS platforms I was originally attracted to Movable Type and, later, to Expression Engine. It was suggested that I explore some of the open source software such as Drupal, WordPress, and b2evolution but I dismissed them because they were “free”. After all, you get what you pay for. Continue reading WordPress and How I Learned to Love Open Source

Are You an Early Adopter ?

When you come across a product or technology that you might be interested in do you ask yourself;

    Have enough people tested this product so that I can feel confident that it will work?

Or do you ask;

    Have I missed the boat on this product?

If you’re worried you might be “too early” you’re, more than likely, not an early adopter. If you worry about being “too late” you probably have early adopter tendencies.

Net Neutrality: Don’t Worry Your Pretty Little Head About It

It’s election season, the time of year when we are bombarded by commercials featuring obnoxious, supercillious, and condescending announcers telling us what we think and why their opponents are enemies of the people. It grates at my sensibilities to be told that I shouldn’t vote for so and so because they don’t share my values. It angers me to see our multi-colored world reduced to a black and white caricature.

So it was against this backdrop of political vitriole that the senatorial, guberatorial, and congressional rhetoric was interrupted by a cable company spot on Net Neutrality. The upshot of the commercial was all we needed to know about net neutrality was that it would cost us money. Don’t worry about the confusing details, the condescending announcer reassured, the cable companies have your best interests at heart.

Insulting? Yes. Surprising? Unfortunately, no.

While I haven’t paid close attention to the issue, the people I consider to be opinion leaders in the blogosphere come down on the side of net neutrality. None of them, to my recollection, have suggested that they were hoping it would be a costly alternative. So, in the interest of those of us who like to make up our own minds about what is important and what we think, consider the following links to Rocketboom , the Daily Show, and Save the Internet.

While these links aren’t presenting unbiased information, they are providing information and not insulting my intelligence by telling me that the issue is too complex for me to worry my pretty little head about it.

So You Want To Be An Internet Opinion Leader ?

Do you know your way around a computer?

Do you find yourself spending more time on the internet than most of your friends?

Are you curious? Do you enjoy the thrill of discovering new information?

Are you involved with and excited about a specific product category?

Are you at the center of your interpersonal communication network?

If you answered yes to all of the above questions then you could be an opinion leader!

Continue reading So You Want To Be An Internet Opinion Leader ?

The Cult of Ubuntu ?

In the article

“The Cult of Macintosh” by Belk and Tumbat, Consumption, Markets, and Culture, Vol.8, No. 3, September 2005, pp. 205-217

the authors suggest that, for a brand to attain cult-like proportions and a devotional following a mythology consisting of certain “sustaining myths” must surround the brand. In the case of Macintosh computers the “creation myth” began in the garage with Steve Jobs and the first Apple computer.
Continue reading The Cult of Ubuntu ?

Social Identity Theory

In the 1960s and 1970s Henri Tajfel conducted a series of studies in which participants were randomly divided into two groups. As a participant, the group you were assigned to was the “in-group” and the other group was designated the “out-group”. Participants were asked to allocate rewards between members of their group (in-group) and the other group (the out-group). These studies showed that participants exhibited substantial favoritism for members of their in-group.

What makes this interesting is that these were ad hoc groups. They were not formed based on any commonality between the participants. Attraction didn’t play a part, neither did taste in music or religious affiliation. Subjects were merely told that they were members of one or the other group and yet they behaved in ways that indicated that they were interested in the group’s welfare as well as their own.

According to the “The Sage Handbook of Social Psychology” (Sage Publications Ltd):

Social identity theory holds that self-esteem reflects both personal identity and social identity. The former is based on one’s personal accomplishments while the latter is based on the groups to which one belongs and the value one attaches to those groups. People are motivated to maintain a positive self-evaluation and want to view their individual achievements and personal qualities as favorably as they can, as they similarly want to see the groups that they belong to in the most positive possible light.

This seems as good a place as any to begin our exploration of the mechanisms which lead to the type of us vs. them behavior we experience as part of the Mac/PC debate. The next step will be to look at J.C. Turner’s working of social identity theory into self-categorization theory.

Theory

Before I introduce my “theory of the month” I wanted to review the basic definition of theory. According to Kerlinger (1986), “the basic aim of science is theory. Perhaps less cryptically, the basic aim of science is to explain natural phenomena. Such explanations are called theories.” Kerlinger defines a theory as follows:

A theory is a set of interrelated constructs (concepts), definitions, and propositions that present a systematic view of phenomena by specifying relationships among variables with the purpose of explaining and predicting the phenomena. (Kerlinger 1986)

Of course, a theory needs to be verifiable. It must be demonstrated, beyond pure chance, that the relationships between variables posited by the theory actually exists.
But what distinguishes one theory from another and, in particular, what is a good theory?

Karl Weick (1989) defines a “good theory” as:

a plausible theory, and a theory is judged to be more plausible and of higher quality if it is interesting rather than obvious, irrelevant or absurd, obvious in novel ways, a source of unexpected connections, high in narrative rationality, aesthetically pleasing, or correspondent with presumed realities. (Weick 1989)

At the Speed of a Journal Article

Journal articles are foundation of a good research paper but not for the reason I once thought. In my flawed world view I had assumed that journal articles would be more current than books. After all, books were normally more voluminous and presumably took more time to write. There was also the time involved in getting the book to print.

At a recent AMA conference I was shown a significantly different picture. A panel of journal editors was “walking us” through the process of getting published in their journals. All of the articles submitted to these journals were peer reviewed. This means that, once submitted, they were sent out to scholars with an expertise in the subject area of that article. The reviewers would then recommend either that the article be accepted, accepted subject to revision, or rejected.

According to this group of journal editors, articles will invariably require revisions. That can take quite some time and so we are looking at a significant lag time, possibly years, between initial submission and acceptance. The thing that surprised me most was that the potential time between acceptance and publication could also be a couple of years. So, the journal articles that I had been thinking represented the most current and up to date research in the field, might turn out not to represent the most current thinking.

I suppose this shouldn’t have been a toal surprise. After all, many journals document the time frame in the title heading of the article. Sitting in front of me, on my desk, is a 2001 article in the Journal of Business Research by Yoo and Donthu. Right under the author information is the following:

Received 1 january 1997; received in revised form 1 July 1999; accepted 6 August 1999

So here we have an article that, after whatever time it took to research , perform the study, and write, wasn’t published for an additional 4 years. Books are starting to look better and better.

Of course, the primary advantage of journal articles is the peer review itself. This review provides subsequent researchers with the security of knowing that these articles have been thoroughly vetted by respected members of the community. As for the lag time, the editors on the panel assured us that, whether in print or online, all the journals were working on decreasing the amount of time lapsed between acceptance and publication.