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Social Networking: Redux

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[ Social Media]

Sites like Stumbled Upon, Digg, Reddit, and others might drive traffic, but the issues remain the same, who is really clicking on those recommendations?

Citizen Journalism, Blogging, Web 2.0, Democracy Player and management systems, Podcasts, and the whole host of other systems that we use to communicate with each other also drive other social issues and concerns.

As an information security person, reading, writing, and listening to the crush of information that we are presented with on all these interactive sites, to get more links, to raise awareness, and to otherwise communicate our thoughts and ideas.

However, what is not clearly communicated is our inherent Bias towards various issues in the information security field. Our ethical standards, the organizational bias that we inherit, and the way that we view our interaction with other people. We share our inherent bias in web 2.0 with those that click on our links, or stumble over our material and either approve or disapprove of what we are saying.

Bias is something that we all have, and we write or speak accordingly within our sets of bias and worldview. Information Security professionals are no different, what is interesting and problematic for any business or group of people is where personal bias (I love/hate that person) rather than professional bias is used to determine the worthiness of what someone is saying.

No one is going to love or even like someone. That personal bias however can lead to consequences and problems within the information security department that have an impact on professionalism and the ability to get work done. Information security managers need to be aware of the difference between professional and personal bias.

Professional bias is where a person can show through literature, proof of concept, or just plain old proof that one idea is superior to another idea. This is something that we all deal with on a daily basis when solving problems. We use our knowledge to solve problems, and we have a standard body of evidence to prove or show that something is good, bad, or ugly.

Personal Bias is where a person uses phrases like "I don’t like him/her" or "They (target) does not understand" or "stupid" or other words that really show back on the speaker. There is no way to qualify the argument used in personal bias, its what a person thinks about another person, and usually if negative, means that accomplishing tasks or work will be all the more difficult if the personal bias is negative. If the personal bias is positive, then flaws are also ignored in the process.

Digg, Reddit, Stumbled Upon all do not have a way to determine if there is a personal or professional bias involved in the support or non support of a document, blog, podcast, or other material. The inability to detect personal or professional bias in the process means that the recommendations of others may contain hidden meanings.

For example, if someone does a thing, and it is dugg or promoted through social networking, both support and non-support will be generated. Yet those people who are doing the support probably do have personal bias in the process, I like them so I will Digg them, or I hate them so I will bury the story.

Since Bias is a human conditional, what is in blogs, what is in the social networking sites has to be taken with a grain of salt. Not all in those entries will be an honest determination of worthiness to the common body of knowledge. Most blogs and social networking sites contain a huge amount of trivial material that really has a place amongst a very small group of friends, but not in a common body of knowledge.

What is interesting for managers, and co-workers though is to know of the existence of and to read their co-workers blogs. Social networking makes this very easy to do, and recommended because some form of understanding (or hurt feelings) of the people they work with becomes more apparent in the longer run. A long diatribe over 10′s of blog entries over a subject or person is a very telling statement as to the bias that is inherent in the writer (positive or negative).

Digg, Reddit and others make this process so much easier, and can provide a team or group invaluable information about their co-workers that they might not have ever seen in a work place environment.

Digg or stumble upon or otherwise search for your co-workers and managers blogs. Makes for some interesting reading, and web 2.0/social networking makes it all the more easy to accomplish.

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Social Networking: Redux
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About Dan Morrill
Dan Morrill runs Techwag, a site all about his views on social media, education, technology, and some of the more interesting things that happen on the internet. He works at CityU of Seattle as the Program Director for the Computer Science, Information Systems and Information Security educational programs. WebProNews Writer


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