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Friday, January 16, 2009

This week in links - week 3, 2009

3:08:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , , No comments
As the first president-elect with a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, Barack Obama is poised to use the Internet to communicate directly with Americans in a way unknown to previous presidents.

"The rebooting of our democracy has begun," said Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Forum and the techPresident blog. "[Obama] has the potential to transform the relationship between the American public and their democracy."

During the presidential race, Obama's campaign won praise for its innovative use of social-networking sites, including Facebook, MySpace and MyBarackObama.com, to announce events, rally volunteers and raise money

Obama has more than 1 million MySpace "friends" and more than 3.7 million "supporters" on his official Facebook page -- some 700,000 more than when he was elected in November. His campaign also has a database of almost 13 million supporters and their e-mail addresses.

Obama has invented an alternative media model," said CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider. "In the old model, the president talks to the people on television [and] the people talk back in polls. In the new model, communication is online, and two-way."
ZDNet is reporting that Gartner's chiming in on some CIO recommendations for their 2009 New Year's resolutions. Excerpts include:

3. Start scouting for key talent.

5. Start using social systems yourself, visibly.

6. Start taking cloud seriously.

...and my favorite:

10. Discover newer technologies to get experience of in 2009.

Uh, like social software, right? See number 5.
One of the themes I was following in the academic literature is to whether compliance and trustful relationships are indeed substitutes or complementary governance mechanisms. The conventional wisdom had been that they are substitutes. That is, if one decides to govern by comprehensive legal contracts then in effect the aim is to leave no room for opportunitistic behaviour. In fact it is suggested that organisations that rely totally on contracts drive out the possibility of building trust. On the other hand we have the "handshake" agreement, no legals, just trust and honour. Of course there is always middle ground where one can choose the point in the continuum between contracts and trust relationships as appropriate, but they are still  substitutes.

Now the above had always sounded plausible to me but I came across a theme of argument which suggests that they could be complementary i.e. dense contracts and high trust could co-exist and in fact reinforce each other. Several of the arguments related to the build up of trust as one co-operated in formulating a detailed contract. This may also be plausible but I guess the test is how and if the resulting contract is enforced. The other end of the argument is probably the most plausible though. If you have no contracts and no trust then they will definitely complement each other in providing a poor result!


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