Social Media and Campaign 2012: Developments and Trends for Facebook Adoption – An Personal Lit Review

I’ve read a few papers by Girish J Gulati and Christine B Williams at Bentley University. Their work on social media adoption and Congress is super helpful to my work and I’m seeing some interesting themes with Congress and trends within technology through their work.

In this paper, Gulati and Williams look into the adoption of Facebook as a political platform in Congressional campaigns, with a diffusion of innovation lens. They find that there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats in their adoption. However there are certain trends in reasons for adoption that change each year.

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AGS Symposium Talk

In late spring I gave a practice talk at the Associated Graduate Students Symposium (click picture to see video). The talk described the beginnings of my research into constituent communication in Congress.

Screenshot of my talk at the AGS Symposium

I decided to give this talk to practice my speaking skills and to articulate my research goals. More than six months later, AGS finally sent my a copy of my talk to review.

I have to say, I think I did better than I expected. It’s always really awkward seeing yourself on video but when I focused on the content, it wasn’t bad. I think my thoughts flowed well and I got my ideas across. I thought my slides were clean and easy to understand.

I definitely need to slow down and stop moving my hands so much 🙂 I tend to be a fast talker and I get really nervous when I talk which makes me speed up even more. I need to be more cognizant of my pace and breathe more, which will hopefully make everything else slow down as well.

There were also a few talking points that are now outdated. I should have been more clear that not all Congressional offices are using 50% of their staff for constituent communication, but some of them were according to CMF statistics (I’m pretty sure I remember is being CMF statistics. I have to double check).  I am also not conducting a qualitative study of users of automated letter writing tools, at least not yet. But now looking back, that still seems like an interesting idea.

Tech Threats to Democracy

The New York Times just posted a chilling article titled “Silicon Valley Can’t Destroy Democracy Without Our Help”. In the very first line, Emily Parker says

“Silicon Valley, once a force for good, is now a threat to democracy”.

I haven’t read the entire article yet, but it probed my brain to ask if this is true. Is technology a threat to our democracy, or are certain technologies extenuating and inflating circumstances that are already occurring, and are now at the forefront of discussion?

I think many of us can agree that this past year has led the public to question the power of large technology companies like Facebook and Google. It has also lead those companies to question their own authority and responsibilities to the public. Take Mark Zuckerburg, who is now taking the Russian investigations more seriously than ever. I’m delighted to see the public take a critical stance on these companies. They need to be critically analyzed and controlled. But to blame them for our problems as a country do not help fix the underlying issues.

Here’s a good question. Would Trump’s large advertisements exist if we had controlled budgets for elections? Would political advertising be effective if citizens were provided with higher quality sources of information? Rather than be quick to blame the messenger, think about the quality of the message and how we have educated the public to receive that message.

Without question, technology companies’ influences have tremendously shaped our lives for good and for worse. But they aren’t the only ones to blame for the problems we have needed to address for decades.

(Click picture for NYT link)

Update: The article does affirm my beliefs.