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February 24, 2009

[berkman] Pippa Norris on cultural convergence

Pippa Norris of the Harvard Kennedy School is giving a lunchtime Berkman talk titled “Cultural Convergence: The Impact on National Identities and Trust in Outsiders.” [Note: I’m live-blogging, hence making mistakes, missing stuff, misunderstanding other stuff, typing badly. This is an inaccurate, incomplete record of her talk.]

What might be the impact of cosmopolitan communications, she asks? Her thesis is that there are many firewalls that block global information flows. She will argue that the news media has an impact through cosmopolitan communications, and will look at the implications for public policies. It makes people slightly less nationalistic. [Note: She talks fast. Bad for live bloggers, but good for listeners.] (This is from her book, available free on her Web site.)

Globalization is the starting part. It’s about more than trade; it’s also social and political. Cosmopolitan communications = “the way we learn about, and interact with, people and places beyond the borders of our nation-state.” Cosmocomms have been expanding. But, so what, she asks. In the 1970s, this was seen as cultural imperialism. In the 1990s, it was thought of as Coca-colonization. In the 2000s, we’re still seeing cultural protectionism.

Pippa will focus on audio-visual publishing. Western countries remain dominant. In fact, the gap has widened. There are four views in the literature: 1. There’s a convergence around US exports. 2. There’s a polarization of national cultures. 3. There’s a fusion of national cultures. 4. Pippa’s firewall model.

The firewall model says that there are barriers: 1. Trade barriers; 2. Internal barriers to free press; 3. Poverty; 4. Learning barriers that make it harder to acquire values and attitudes.

She discusses three levels: individual, national, and cross-level. For the national, she talks about the “cosmopolitanism index” she’s devised. She’s surveyed 90 countries using a set of survey questions. At the bottom are the poorest countries with the poorest press freedom. At the top, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark. It goes from 1972-2004.

That’s the framework. She confines her discussion of the results to effects on national identity and trust. Roughly, the more cosmpolitan, the less national identity and higher trust in outsiders. In terms of trusting outsiders, Norway takes the cake. US and Sweden are also high. (The Netherlands are high on the cosmo scale but only in the middle on the trust scale. Also, Germany and Spain.) But because there’s no control group — maybe trust maps to education? — you have to do multilevel regression. She uses age, gender, income, education, and news media use, and finds that trust correlates with news media use.

Her conclusions: Use of the news media “is positively related to more trust in outsiders” (different countries and religions) and “is related to weaker feelings of nationalism.” “I regard that as positive results.” But there are some qualifications: 1. Many other factors create trust in outsiders. 2. This study looks at the impact of news media, but not the impact of entertainment media. 3. There may be self-selection bias or interaction effects.

Policy implications? Is the globalization of news media a threat to national diversity? See www.pippanorris.com

She concludes by asking what we know about how we measure flows of info from one country to another, over time, say from 1995?

Q: [ethanz] There are some familiar data sets. E.g., Alexa, although because it’s opt-in, it’s not perfect. There’s also Google Search Insights that tracks searches. In most countries, “news” is almost always one of the very top searches. A question: How might your analysis integrate with national-level studies. E.g., a study that showed that as cable TV was introduced to communities in India, you got an increase in empowerment equivalent to 4 years of education. [I probably got this substantially wrong.]

Q: There are categories of trust…
A: We use the World Values survey that includes over a quarter million people. Is trust in Nigeria and Sweden the same? There are many categories indeed. But when you see a strong pattern emerge, as we have, then we should assume something is happening in the data.

Q: A speaker from Microsoft was at Berkman recently, talking about the issues importing and exporting data on the Net across national boundaries. What sorts of measures have you been using?
A: The obvious ones. Internet access. Location of hosts. And some articles that have looked at search terms.

Q: I’m from Poland: High cosmo, low trust. In the US, we rent movies instead of watching TV. But rental stores don’t know about a particular movie highly famous in Europe. My question is about the global dimension of local issues.
A: Poland and much of Central Europe have suddenly become much more open and have found greater value change than in countries open for a long time. You should see greater variation within such countries, e.g., by age.

Q: [smacleod] Pippa asked for ideas about media flows, with some positivist assumptions about the ability of globalization and media studies to be objective. Has she read Appadurai’s “Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization,” which emphasizes the mutability of flows. I wonder how Pippa might engage on-the-ground research and how such ethnographic research might recast her methodological assumptions. Extensive anthropological field work has been done in all the countries she’s mentioned, which engages and historicizes the legacy of colonialism.
A: I am a positivist. But I also like dealing with cases. There’s rich work being done in communications and other fields, but there’s also good division of labor. You need both. Some people like to fly over a country and others like to walk through it, and you get value from both.

Q: The US has more cultural exports than imports, while most seem to have about equal amounts. How does this play into cosmo?
A: America also imports a lot. America doesn’t have to import a lot because it’s got so much.

Q: Tribal populations in America have a tight tie to geography. Where’s UNESCO is generating the data to look at other regions than nation states?
A: The data generally depend on national statistical offices. UNESCO depends on those; it has no data generation capability itself.

Q: [hal] Google Ad-Planner lets you download a list of the 500 most visited sites for many countries. It has unique visitor numbers.
A: So I could see how many people go into Norway and how many go out.

This gives us a way to focus on globalization of media by focusing on the people, not on the media, Pippa concludes, reminding us that the chapters are up on her site. [Tags: ]

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February 21, 2008

[cyberinf] The Empowered University in the Global Economy

Jeffrey Lehman of the Woodrow Wilson Center (and chair of Internet 2) says for a long time we’ve opened our universities for people from other countries to study and teach. And we’ve had out-bound programs as well. But in the past decade there’s been an explosion of interest in increasing the outbound activities of US universities. What does the increased outbound globalization mean for cyberinfrastructure? What does it say about university policy? Does it change the mission of the U? To whom does the U owe its responsibility — state, feds, the world, knowledge as an abstraction, or to the highest bidder? Should gov’t funding promote or inhibit the widest dissemination of info as a free, public good? [As always, I’m typing too fast, making mistakes, getting things wrong…]

Pradeep Khosla of CMU (a robotics researcher and a dean) has built five global campuses in the past few years. But there aren’t global universities the way there are global corporations, he says. The products from global corps meet the same standards around the world, but global campuses don’t always meet the same educational standards as the parent U. Education is key but it hasn’t changed in hundreds of years. We should focus on globalizing research and use the infrastructure for that. We should also use the infrastructure reduce tuition costs. Universities can do more outsourcing. The governance model is another hurdle. And we should be looking at the IP policies. Finally, we haven’t spent enough time understanding how to assess education in multiple places at the same time.

Lesa Mitchell (Kauffman Foundation) We’ve been trying to understand all the different pathways how innovation moves out of the U and into the commercial sphere. E.g., we built the iBridge network to aggregate research, as per Simon’s comments earlier. About 37 universities have signed up. Kauffman also supports ScienceCommons. Also, we funded BetterWorld, trying to shed light on the innovations coming out of universities. But researchers aren’t rewarded based on this. We’re looking at collaborative models as well, such as Citris and Rosetta Commons: multi-U, multi-industry collaboratives.

Gerald Barnett (UCSC) says computers draw us together in conversation. They’re very social. When we look at IP we shouldn’t think it’s fundamentally about law. It’s about behavior. IP is a social convention that aims to manage the competing interests of groups. Companies are much sophisticated than U’s because companies have decision processes, such as markets. U’s just have principles, which is bad for grounded discussions. If you look at how screwed up the U’s IP policies are, he’s not sure he wants an innovation policy. He wants an attitude. We have an opportunity globally to broaden our models. IP policies are absurd: You probably are not authorized to click on the “I accept” button when you download Acrobat at your U because you’re entering into a contract. We should learn from other countries as they put together their environments. Let’s build models that are normalized, that people understand, as CreativeCommons does. The infrastructure is a bonfire around which we do social things, and we need to adapt our policies to it.

Susan Tuttle (IBM) says in 2007 we passed the America Competes act. What does the USA need to do to compete globally? IBM says innovation has to be: open, collaborative, multi-disciplinary and global. How does this apply to the U? 1. Open: New approaches to IP? 2. Collaboration: Collaborate with other U’s, with your students… 3. Multi-disciplinary: Often students graduate without the skills we need as a company. Their skills need to be broad and deep. Engineering and Business Depts ought to work together. 4. Global: U’s need to be global.

Q: Students would be happy to collaborate if they could. The presidents and the provosts often don’t get it.
Jeffrey: The problem I hear is that American U’s are structured around the old model of the student as a lone wolf, and that doesn’t map well in the real world where people act as teams. In China, the critique is a mirror image: They say they teach people to march together but there’s little ability to break out from the pack. The obvious comment is to say that there’s truth on both sides. The pedagogic problem is: How do we teach people to be members of effective teams? You have to be able to bring something of your own to the table. But you also need to be able to transform what you bring to the table into a group product, and that’s a separate set of tools. No place I’ve seen has been very good at helping their students to develop all those skills. US universities divide the labor: The U nurtures the individual and industry then nurtures team skills.
Pradeep: You wouldn’t have this impression if you went to CMU. And US universities are not as siloed as people think. We have a broader idea of what education is. We are more formative and less prescriptive than most of the rest of the world.
Susan: Our children are looking at have ten careers by the time they’re done. We at IBM need people who can adapt quickly and be flexible.
Gerald: Students are now the leading practitioners. We need to learn how to learn from them. We need wisdom appreciation for the fifteen year olds. We need to be out in the community seeing what they’re doing. [But hen we do, we think what they’re doing is trivial, etc.We’re getting older. It’s their world.

The tenure system is so conservative and so prone to stove-piping. There’s a basic U structure that keeps us from going too far.

A big part of U is the cultural experience of being on campus. Cyberinf lets you deliver the course content, but how do you get the cultural experience?
Pradeep: We shouldn’t think of cyberinf as about delivering content. E.g., SecondLife is an experience.
A: Do you expect at-distance undergrad students to spend 20 hours a week on SecondLife?
Pradeep: We should begin at grad level. We don’t want to mess with the first four years until we’ve tried it at the grad level.
Lesa: We’ve had this discussion with a number of different universities. Should I globalize my U by going somewhere else, or make my U larger?


[I missed some because I was waiting on line to ask a question, but I gave up because there we’re running out of time. I was going to ask: Since we think our cyberinf embodies and enables certain values, how do we keep it from being a tool of colonization rather than of globalization.]

Gerald, in response to a question, said that we have to embrace many tones and tonalities, welcoming diversity, not just a single way of doing research.

[I went back into the queue because the moderator decided to take the entire list of questions at once.]

Pradeep: I see no problem with a U furthering it’s own goals because U’s have different strategies. There’s a diversity of strategies. It’s a good tension.

Lesa: The Kauffman Foundation is focusing on K-12. We have a cellphone-as-teaching-tool project underway. We believe you can only make change from outside in.

Gerald: Info tech is the first great revolution U tech in 500 years, says Clark Kerr. The U has many roles, including education, stewardship, economic, etc. We can’t go forward in this world with one-size-fits-all policies. We need attitudes. And we should be looking at how the “tribal chiefs” are directing us.

Susan: We need to recognize global differences. [Tags: ]

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