Sunday, April 8, 2012

Values of a Networked World

In last spring’s 502 Group Transactions course, one of the assignments was to write a book review of Scott Klosofsky’s 2011 text, A Manager’s Guide to Social Media. It was one of three books that Klosofsky had published within a couple months late 2010 and early 2011. All three covered much the same ground from different perspectives and degrees of complexity, depending on the audience at which they were aimed. One of the books appears to have been the feedstock for the other two, and that book, Enterprise Social Technology was written using a crowd sourcing model.  According to information in publicity material for the book, Klososky outlined each chapter, then crowdsourced the actual writing, along with the cover design and publicity (The Crowdsourcing of the Book, 2011).  Given the interconnectedness of the material and use of social networks in its creation, it feels inauthentic and misleading that the crowdsourced origins of the material are not acknowledged in the three books.
Klosofsky probably would use the same arguments as Helene Hegemann ( in Theresa Wang’s April 6 posting) to defend the lack of transparency, but this doesn’t pass the ethical smell test for me. It would seem always better to pay homage to our inspirations, inasmuch as possible. True, some notions are so embedded in our culture that they have become invisible, as McLuhan pointed out about the fish not realizing it was surrounded by water. But particularly when origins are obvious, ‘fess up and defend it as fair use. Being silent is counter to what I see as the values of a networked and crowd-sourced economy:  respect, inclusion and acknowledgement.
Not surprisingly, Klosofsky’s book offers little in the way of advice on ethical use of social media in the workplace. As my beloved mother-in-law might say, he might not have been a liar, but he seems a stranger to the truth.

Klososky, S. (2011).  Enterprise social technology: Helping organizations harness the power of social media, social networking, social relevance. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group.
Klososky, S. (2011).  The Manager’s Guide to Social Media. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Klososky, S. (2011).  The Velocity Manifesto: Harnessing Technology, Vision, and Culture to Future-Proof Your Organization. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group.
The Crowdsourcing of the Book. (2011). Retrieved from


  1. Thanks for letting us know about the crowdsourced book, Judith.

    I agree that being transparent is one of the key points for publishing, especially when working with collaborators or borrowing copyrighted material. What's the harm in referencing it? Maybe we should start a new style format called Online Referencing - similar to APA or MLS styles, but exclusively for collaborative works.

    The online astronomy project, Galaxy Zoo, set out to classify and identify galaxy from an enormous database of images. Thousands of volunteers identified spiral galaxies, ellipticals and even made discoveries in the previously unseen images. At the end of the original project, organizers documented the names of contributors and published them in a beautiful image of a galaxy. The names are so tiny that they are almost illegible, but they are still acknowledged. You can view the image here:

  2. I completely agree with you, Judith. Attribution is not just a courtesy; it is foundational to Lessig's Remix and the Creative Commons. The lack of attribution in Hegemann's and Klosofsky's work is morally reprehensible to those of us anchored in what Thomas Pettit described as the Gutenberg Parenthesis (here's a nice summary of Tom Pettit's work:

    I use the word "anchored" intentionally, because there is a line drawn in the sand that highlights the cultural conflict between print and digital mediums, and I know I am currently well-anchored on one side. According to Pettit, the increased ease and flow of communication enabled by digital technology is facilitating a return to a 'secondary orality'. In an oral culture, ownership is not accorded to stories, thoughts,or the words used to construct them. It's incomprehensible to 'own' mutable, spoken words, especially when ideas gain reality only through expression and repetition. Claiming ownership to a spoken word chain is akin to claiming ownership to another person's thought in an oral culture. Ownership of words is simply not possible.

    When I look at the ownership/attribution/copyright conflicts through this lens, I can understand why Hegemann said that there is no originality, just authenticity. What I feel as an affront is a cultural expression from within the Gutenberg Parenthesis, a relic enabled by print. When digital communication is so fluid as to recall (reclaim?) oral culture, why would the concept of ownership remain as central as it is for print culture?


    Pettit, T. (2009). Containment and articulation: Media, cultural production, and perception of the material world. [conference] Media in Transition 6: stone and papyrus, storage and transmission. Retrieved from

  3. I wonder, though, whether an acknowledgement or a 'nod' of recognition isn't as important no matter what the medium...ah, perhaps it's just a nostalgic definition of authenticity. Thank you for this, Theresa. It may be the same archaic grounding that has me glaring at my sons if they fail to open the door for someone...