Announcement: Recent Publications by OOW Member, Barry Wellman

Several recent publications by Barry Wellman (University of Toronto) may be of interest to OOW members.

Dimitrina Dimitrova, Diana Mok and Barry Wellman, “Changing Ties in a Far-Flung, Multidisciplinary Research Network: The Case of GRAND.” American Behavioral Scientist 59, 5: 599-628.

We study a multidisciplinary, geographically dispersed, and multi-institutional research network that shows the complex relationships in collaborative research. Although collaborative work ties declined, the number of friendship and advice ties stayed stable and acquaintanceship ties grew. Most researchers seem satisfied with the network and relish the opportunities for cross-disciplinary exchanges. The benefits of the network do not lie in the traditional academic output of publications and artifacts, but in intellectual exchanges, knowledge transfer, fostering long-term ties within and across disciplines and universities, and the development of a collaborative culture.

Diana Ka-Yan Mok, Barry Wellman and Dimitrina Dimitrova, “Modeling Communication in a Research Network: Implications for the Good Networked Life.” Forthcoming 2015 in The Good Life (International Communication Association theme book), edited by Hua Wang. Bern: Peter Lang.

There has been much hype about the nature of networked work and research, ever since Frances Cairncross’ The Death of Distance in the 1990s. We review our own research of a Canadian research network, as well as the research of others, to evaluate how digital media—combined with in-person contact—affects how networked scholars operate.

Mo, Guang Ying, Tsahi Hayat & Barry Wellman. 2015. “How Far Can Scholarly Networks Go? Examining the Relationships between Distance, Disciplines, Motivation, and Clusters.” Pp. 109-35 in Emerald Studies in Media and Communication 9: Communication and Information Technologies Annual – ​Politics, Participation, and Production. Edited by Laura Robinson, Shelia R. Cotten, & Jeremy Schulz. Bingley, UK: Emerald.

Scrutinizing the dynamics of a scholarly research network based in Canada, we carry out a multipronged and multi-method study. Our findings explore how the structural characteristics of a scholarly network relate to the profiles of the network members, including their motivations for joining the network. Breaking the network down into various clusters, including the work cluster, the help cluster, and the want-to-meet cluster, we identify several important patterns. The work and help networks exhibit an insular character, reflecting researchers’ interests in strengthening their ties to their own communities as well as barriers to collaborations and interactions cutting across geographic and disciplinary boundaries. On the other hand, many members of the network express a desire to collaborate and meet individuals distant in terms of both geography and discipline. Interviews with network members show how the constraints and exigencies of networked scientific research make it possible to actualize some of the practical motivations for joining the network, while impeding the realization of other, more idealistic motivations.

Barry Wellman, Dimitrina Dimitrova, Zack Hayat, Guang Ying Mo and Lilia Smale. Networking Scholars in a Networked Organization. Pp. 475-93 in Research in the Sociology of Organizations: Contemporary Perspectives on Organizational Social Network Analysis. Edited by Daniel Brass, Joe Labianca, Ajay Mehra, Daniel Halgin, and Stephen Borgatti. Bingley, UK: Emerald, 2014

Long-standing traditions of long-distance collaboration and networking make scholars a good test case for differentiating hype and reality in distributed, networked organizations. Our study of Canadian scholars in the GRAND research networks finds that they function more as connected individuals and less as members of a single bounded work group, often meeting their needs by tapping into diversified, loosely knit networks. Their internet use interpenetrates with in-person contact: the more they use one, the more they use the other. Despite digital networking, local proximity is important for collaboration and seniority for inter-team and interdisciplinary boundary spanning.

Dimitrina Dimitrova and Barry Wellman. 2015. “Networked Work and Network Research: New Forms of Teamwork in the Triple Revolution.” American Behavioral Scientist, 59, 4: 443-56. Introduction to the Special Issue on Networked Work. DOI: 10.1177/0002764214556811

Dimitrina Dimitrova and Barry Wellman. 2015. “Networked Work and Network Research: New Forms of Teamwork in the Triple Revolution.” American Behavioral Scientist, 59, 5: 527-30. Introduction to the Special Issue on Networked Research.

These are introductions to two special issues. There has been more hype than evidence about networked work. The researchers in these two coordinate issues use survey, interview and sensor data to present systematic evidence about how networked work actually works. The first Networked Work issue presents four papers about how professionals network. The second Networked Research issue focuses on a particular kind of networked work—scholarly networks—including studies of how such networks change over time. Taken together, these papers show that workers tend to network with similar others. Although they integrate digital media into their work lives, they nevertheless tend to work with near-by colleagues

Anatoliy Gruzd and Barry Wellman. 2014. “Networked Influence in Social Media: Introduction to the Special Issue.” American Behavioral Scientist, 58, 10: 1251-60. Special Issue on Networked Influence in Social Media.

This special issue presents work into how the characteristics of social media affect the nature of influence in networks, especially at work and in organizations. Its central thesis is that social influence has become networked influence. Influence is networked in two ways: by occurring in social networks and by propagating through online communication networks. The articles investigate online social influence in its diversity: who is exercising influence, how it is done, how to measure influence, what its consequences are, and how online and offline influences intertwine in different contexts. A feature of this special issue is that it adopts a platform, domain and context-specific approach to study influence in social media. The choice of this approach is because different social media platforms support different types of interactions (such as “likes” on Facebook vs. “retweets” on Twitter) and connections (friends on Facebook vs. asymmetric following relationships on Twitter). Thus, in addition to being aware of the characteristics of specific media, studies of influence need to be aware of the particular domain and context in which the influence is exercised.

The Expert Panel on Memory Institutions and the Digital Revolution. 2015. Leading in the Digital World: Opportunities for Canada’s Memory Institutions. Ottawa: Council of Canadian Academies, February, 2015. 185 pp

This multiauthored report asserts that Canada’s “memory institutions” (organizations such as libraries and archives) must become leaders to keep pace with fundamental digital changes. It discusses the technological, organizational, participatory, and governance changes necessary to become leading memory institutions.

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