My chance to be a connector

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Kristen Purcell reports in her PewResearchCenter.org publication from 2013 that 78% of US adults have either downloaded or watched a video on-line.  This sort of statistic makes people who are interested in “getting the word out” – i.e., public health workers – dream about how to tap into that mechanism of communication.  But there’s a little catch.  On-line video viewership is lower for people above the age of 50 and in people without college degrees or lower household income.  In other words, those populations who are often the target of on-line public service announcement are the same groups who are less likely to watch videos on-line.

This should not necessarily discourage public health officials from using tools like YouTube or Pinterest (the 2 tools I explored this week) to grab the public’s attention of a well-made video.  Shirky explains that Small World networks (Figure 9.2 above) serve both as amplifiers and filters of information (page 220).  In Small World networks, networks of dense (homogenous) clusters can extend communication further than previously appreciated by way of a few highly connected individuals.  Most often, it will be these individuals who serve to connect diverse clusters, enabling information to cross invisible and sometimes impenetrable boundaries.

This week, I had the chance to connect with 3 classmates on YouTube.  Two of us grew up in the US and two grew up in other countries.  One of them is currently in her home country taking this course.  We are a group that is at once homogeneous (we are all well-educated, female, and enrolled at UC-Berkeley) and heterogenous (our diverse countries of origin, single, married, with and without kids). We subscribed to one another’s YouTube channels and through this, I had the chance to see an inspiring and beautiful video that I would never have found without this new social group.

Now I have the chance to be a sort of connector by way of that video.  Though I will never be one of those “highly connected individuals” that Shirky mentions (and that public health officials should do their best to try to identify), maybe I can use this as my 15 minutes of fame.

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3 thoughts on “My chance to be a connector

  1. Aww Renee,
    I agree that this week’s social media tools and connections have not only enlightened me about a whole lot of information available on youtube channels but I have also learned about my colleague’s/peers likes and interests outside this class which actually helps foster those connections and helps us understand how to approach public health issues and reach out to other people in a more “human” manner by showing them that we care.

  2. Hi Renee,
    Nice post. This week has really been very enlightening, just like the past 3 weeks! I explored you tube and it has much more to it than I had ever imagined:) it’s fun to connect to friends and subscribe to their channels and as Hafsa has said, to learn about their interests and likes.

  3. Your insights into the complexities of how networks are formed and variations in access to technology is spot on, good work this week on your post! I really enjoyed reading it. Often when deploying population/community level interventions, it is really valuable to have multiple avenues of interaction where you can build in feedback loops throughout and checkpoint the effectiveness of each aspects of the program or project.

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