Symbolic Interactionism – meaning arises out of interaction with each other a.k.a. When ideas have sex


Just watched Matt Ridley’s optimistic TED talk on the power of exchange, relating law of comparative advantage to the realm of ideas and meaning. 

 I have been musing on social interactionism since my first sociology class, because the idea of meaning created through interaction resonated in my mind.  Made me curious about the impact of many-to-many communication made possible by Internet, digital media, and peer to peer technology allowing a never-before-seen-in-human-history volume of interactions.  What does it portend for meaning?  Ridley sees it as the exchange of ideas (or as he puts it, when ideas have sex and reproduce) creating greater prosperity a.l.a. Ricardo’s law of comparative advantage.  Pretty compelling argument, makes me believe that rise of collaborative consumption and other altruistic notions made possible by crowd, network, p2p, is the result of our ideas having sex.

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4 Comments on “Symbolic Interactionism – meaning arises out of interaction with each other a.k.a. When ideas have sex”

  1. Tom Tonkin says:

    Rogers (2003) submits that there are conflicting forces that make innovation, or in the terms of this blog, ideas, a reality. Homophily is the degree in which two or more people interact that happen to share similar attributes such as beliefs, education and socioeconomic status (p.18). People connect with people at are similar to themselves. Heterophily, the opposite of homophily, is the degree to which two or more people interact that happen to have different characteristics (p. 18). These diverse groups, though a good setting for innovating ideas, generally have poor communications tendencies since the people are different from each other. The ideal scenario would be a group that is diverse (heterophily) while possessing the efficiency of homogenous communications.

    If what you posit from this video is categorically true, then lets appreciate the fundamental fact that the digital natives (Prensky, n.d.) that comprise the networked world have learned to accept the diversity found in the Internet citizenship, hence overcoming the communications barriers posed by heterophily such to induce innovation. Is the key to all of this meaning through interaction actually the venerable dilemma of the acceptance of other’s diversity?

    References

    Prensky, M. (n.d.). Marc Prensky. “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” Retrieved August 19, 2011, from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/
    Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York: Free Press.

    • rjrock says:

      Tom: If what you posit from this video is categorically true, then lets appreciate the fundamental fact that the digital natives (Prensky, n.d.) that comprise the networked world have learned to accept the diversity found in the Internet citizenship, hence overcoming the communications barriers posed by heterophily such to induce innovation.

      Richard: I find myself wondering whether being a “digital native” has anything to do with it. I know Tapscott and Prensky suggest that digital natives are fundamentally different, but other research suggest that their claims warrant further research and challenge the popular assumptions about the natives (Selwyn, 2009, Bennett, Maton, & Kervin, 2008). I wonder whether the sense of community Botsman discusses or the net citizenship idea has little to do with the generation and more to do with the combination of more people that are more prosperous and happen to be connected to each other in a fundamentally different way. I wonder if there is any research on whether group and team behaviors are substantially different in the electronic world versus the virtual world?

      References
      Bennett, S., Maton, K. and Kervin, L. (2008), The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39: 775–786. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2007.00793.x
      Selwyn, Neil. (2009). The digital native – myth and reality. Aslib Proceedings. Vol. 61 Iss: 4, pp.364 – 379

  2. Tom Tonkin says:

    Richard,

    Good points and I agree on the fact that being a digital native may have little to do with the human premise of wanting to connect. Perhaps, digital natives just know how to operate in a digital world to achieve connections. Stewart, Manz and Sims (1999) touch on the fact that there is the need for human interaction, specifically affection and affiliation, even when forming teams in an organizational setting (p. 5). Ellis and Fisher (1994) suggest that a main criteria in creating and sustaining groups and move them to becoming a teams, that is, adding a level of interdependence, is to nurture cohesion amongst its members (p 22-29).

    One of my cohorts, an up-and-coming scholar and a good friend, Probal DasGupta (2010), wrote an article, a literature review, on e-leadership that discusses how leaders must operate in a virtual environment to lead teams. DasGupta (2010) touches on the generational gaps and the diversity found in leadership styles given this new digital world. A great read and I encourage anyone that is looking to understand the body of knowledge in this space to read it.

    References

    DasGupta, P. (2010). Literature Review: e-Leadership. Emerging Leadership Journeys, Regent University, School of Leadership Studies 4(1), 1-36
    Ellis, D. G., & Fisher, B. A. (1994). Small group decision making : communication and the group process (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
    Stewart, G. L., Manz, C. C., & Sims, H. P. (1999). Team work and group dynamics. New York: J. Wiley.

  3. rjrock says:

    Cool, I’ll check it out. It’ll be helpful for my portfolio project in the Communications in the Digital Age class. I’ll post my hypothesis as a new post.


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