Sunday, October 24, 2010

Subway Transit: Increase or Decrease in social capital?

     I spent six weeks of my summer living in New York City by myself. I was staying in Manhattan, but frequently I was all over the city, visiting friends in Brooklyn, seeing the Chelsea Square Market, and visiting colleges such as New York University and Fordham University. Consequently, I had to learn to travel via the subway in order to get from place to place. My first subway experience was with Sara Seger, who had been traveling by the metro most of her life. As we squeezed through the crowded subway we finally found a place to stand. The doors closed and the subway began with a jolt, and then with full speed. Unfortunately Sara forgot to mention to me to hold onto the metal bars above us, and as the subway started, I fell backward onto a man's foot, who yelled at me as I scrambled to stand unnoticed. He gave me dirty looks for the rest of the subway ride as I tried to ignore him. Thankfully he got off on the next stop, but I was sure to keep all body parts, including my eyes to myself for the rest of the summer while on the subway.
                                                          Sara and I In the Big Apple
    From my experience this summer on the subway, I am sure that there is no way to increase social capital within the metro. Especially in a large city, there are too many people to connect on a level necessary to increase social capital. Even if it was safe to interact with other people, the subway stops usually aren't long enough to engage into any kind conversation.Whenever I was on a subway by myself, I always had my iPod on and read a book simultaneously, in order to prevent any interaction with strangers. If anything, riding the subway decreases social capital.

Petition:Better Fruit in the UNCSA Cafeteria

As an experiment on social capital, I decided to create a petition for “Better Fruit in the UNCSA Cafeteria.” This was to see how strong my social capital was under a specific cause. I would be testing my social capital on facebook by posting a link to the online petition, found at In order to sign online, prospective petitioners were asked their email, name, and location. I also tested my social capital within the physical world, asking people to sign the petition by providing their name and email on a piece of paper attached to a clipboard. The experiment went on for 5 days from October 15th to October 20th during which I would collect signatures from both sources, and document the activity. Collecting data from both sources shows where my social capital is the strongest, on facebook or the real world.

Today I created the petition serve better quality fruit in the cafeteria. My goal is a minimum of 50 signatures by Wednesday. Posted the link to facebook in the hopes of more recognition. Within an hour of posting, 2 signatures are collected. Throughout the day, several people “liked” the link and 1 person commented on the link. I also received 2 wall posts advocating the petition. The online petition received 16 signatures in all. While personally asking people, 14 signatures were collected. When I approached people, an interesting phenomena similar to mob psychology: A “chain reaction” spread throughout the people within my proximity. As I told one person about the petition, several people around me inquired and my social capital increased before my eyes as more and more people signed the petition.

Saturday I received 3 signatures for the online petition. There was a comment on the link and more people “liked” it. Its interesting, because the people who were “liking” my link where people who do not currently go to UNCSA. It shows the quality of my online social capital is not strong, because less people signed the actual petition on the website than the people that “liked” it on facebook. The “chain reaction” occurred again while asking people on campus. I collected 7 signatures total in person.

My social capital was dead today. There were 0 signatures and no facebook activity. Around campus I did not receive any signatures, due to the incident where someone was against the petition. The reverse of the chain reaction occurred, and as she rejected signing, the people around her rejected also. It seems that my social capital has come at a stopping point, and I hope the experiment will not have to be cancelled Will continue tomorrow but if the same results occur, the experiment will have to end early.

Monday gave a glimmer of hope to my social capital. Although there was only 1 online signature and 2 “likes,” the written signatures totaled up to 9. My online social capital is diminishing, while my personal network of people has made a large comeback within the last 24 hours.

The last and final signature was contributed to the online petition, with no “likes” nor facebook comments. I received 6 personal signatures with the same chain reaction trend.

10.20.10 - 10.23.10
The petition has finally come to a close! I consider it a success because in all, I managed to exceed the minimum of signatures by 6. I received a completely ludicrous facebook comment where she suggested that we dress up as fruit and start a rally outside the cafeteria. Fortunately this was not even necessary, for from Wednesday to Saturday the cafeteria has provided much better quality and range of fruits from strawberries to fresh honeydew melons, raspberries, blueberries, grapes bananas and blackberries. In all the petition received 56 signatures (21 online and 35 written), 5 facebook comments, and 15 likes. The strength of my social capital is evident within my personal network as opposed to my online network, due to the chain reaction that happens within a group of people. Although on facebook and the petition site for the gained a lot of feedback, the quality of the response was mostly superficial, with several “likes” from people who did not actually support the petition. From this information it can be concluded that a social capital is more successful in the real world as opposed to online.

Starbucks vs. Krankies

The widespread network of chain stores and restaurants across the USA  has diminished social capitol. These organizations have large numbers of employees and are very unpersonalized to their large basis of shoppers. The contrast between large corporations such as Starbucks and small locally owned joints such as Krankies is obvious.

Whereas Starbucks is primarily valued as a place to buy coffee and take it on the go, Krankies is a social venue. The seating at Starbucks is suited for an individual or small groups; the tables are small and disconnected. At Krankies, there are many seating options, most of them providing room for many people per table as well as the opportunity to push the tables together. As a result I have seen students come to Krankies for group meetings such as the Wake Forest University's Creative Writing Club.

Krankies also encourages social interaction by hosting battle of the band competitions and an art gallery. People of similar interests flock to these events and make connections that they carry through to other aspects of their life. Local run businesses help to attain greater social capital because their patrons are members of the local community.

Krankies is Personal

Starbucks is Formal

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Away from home without a Phone

I like to stay very connected to my family and friends. Because these two groups of people are separated by many states, when I am with one I am usually texting the other.  But I don't solely rely on my phone as a source of communication. I also use it for:
~Checking the Time
~The Calendar Setting
~Viewing/ Taking pictures
~Internet Capabilities
That is why when I went to Guatemala this summer I found the separation from my phone to be difficult at first. When I arrived in Guatemala it was a lot colder than I expected and I wanted to tell my mom and friends everything that I was seeing. For the first day or two it was weird to be cut off from communicating with the people that are an everyday part of my life. One advantage was that at home I use my phone as a way of getting together with people. I will usually send a text message seeing what they are doing and ask if they would like to hang out later. In Guatemala, we were constantly surrounded by our close knit Global Leadership Group. Instead of having access to the people we usually discuss our woes, excitements, and frustrations to, the members of my group were forced to share their opinions with one another. It was nice to not have the phone as a distraction from getting to know the other students, as well as the locals and children. This also forced us to interact with local members of the community because when we were unaware of the time we would be forced to ask a stranger. America is run on technology, yet, technology can sometimes hinder social capital. When I am in home or at UNCSA I believe my cell phone benefits my social capital because it keeps me informed. But when in a foreign country cell phones can become hazardous to social capital.

I was in
My Phone was in...