Friday, May 25, 2012

A Tommy Douglas Tale

One the true heroes of Canadian Politics was Tommy Douglas. This is one of the stories he would tell to educate people about the imbalance in the capitalist economic system.


I used to visit in farm homes, particularly around meal time, and if I got in around dinner time of course, everybody in the family was busy. They were unhitching the horses. They were pumping thewater. They were milking the cows. They were pitching down the hay and the oat sheaves. Somebody else was out gathering the eggs.Somebody else was feeding the pigs and the chickens. Everybody had something to do. Even the youngsters were given a job doing something, for instance gathering the eggs or feeding the chickens.
And here I was, right off the city streets. I didn't know what to do, and I said "give me something to do." Well, nobody was going to trust this city boy with milking a good cow. They gave me the one job thatanybody could do. They gave me the job of turning the handle of the cream separator. Any of you ever turned the handle on the cream separator? Well it's quite an experience. I got to be quite good at it. I got to the place where I could tell you how many verses of "Onward Christian Soldiers" it takes to put a pan of milk through this thing. And as I was turning the handle and they were pouring in the milk, and I could see the cream come out the one spout and the skim milk coming out of the other spout, one day it finally penetrated my thick Scotch head that this cream separator is exactly like our economic system.
Here are the primary producers, the farmers and the fishermen and the loggers. They are pouring in the milk. And here are the workers, whether they work on the railroad or go down to the mines or sail ships or work in a store or a bank, or teach school, clerk in the store, work in a hospital. They are the people whose services make the economy go round, and they're turning the handle. So here you have it: primary producer puts in the milk; people who work with hand and brain turn the handle. And then I thought, but there's another fellow here somewhere. There's a fellow who owns this cream separator. And he's sitting on a stool with the cream spout in his mouth. And the primary producer and the worker take turns on the skim milk spout. And they don't like skim milk. Nobody likes skim milk.

And they blame it on each other And the worker says, "If those farmers and fishermen, you know, would work a little harder, well I wouldn't be drinking this skim milk." And the fishermen and the farmers say, "If those workers didn't demand a forty hour week, didn't want such high wages, I wouldn't have to live on this blue milk." But you know, they're both wrong.

The farmers and the fishermen have produced so much we don't know what to do with it _ we've got surpluses of foodstuffs. And the workers, they've produced so well that today nearly a million of them are unemployed. The fault is not with the worker. It is not with the primary producer. The fault is with this machine. This machine was built to give skim milk to the worker and the primary producer, and to give cream to the corporate elite.
As a matter of fact, it doesn't always do that because every once in a while this little fellow sitting on the stool with the cream spout in his mouth gets indigestion. And he says, "Boys, stop this machine. We got a recession!" He says to the worker, "You're laid off, you can go on unemployment insurance. and after that on welfare." And he says to the farmers and the fishermen, "You know, we don't need your stuff. Take it back home." And then he sits for a while,
indigestion gets better, burps a couple of times, says, " Alright, boys, start the machine. Happy days are here again. Cream for me and skim milk for both of you."
Now what the, what the democratic socialist party has been saying to Canadians for a long time is that the time has come in this land of ours for the worker and the primary producer to get their hands on the regulator of the machine so that it begins to produce homogenized milk in which everybody'll get a little cream."

The other famous Tommy Douglas lesson was Mouseland

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Keeping Your Distance with Social Media

How social media allows you to control your interactions and Keep Your Distance. We all want and need to interact with other people and most of the time those interactions are healthy, beneficial and rich with information. However, many times the richness of the communication environment can be a distraction or impediment to the hoped for outcome of the interaction.
A recent commercial survey for a web meeting platform suggested that people and women in particular prefer online meetings to face-to-face meetings for a number of interesting reasons. Most of those reasons involve some desire for people to keep their distance from annoying, ineffective, irritating and offensive elements of meat space interactions. The environment is too rich for the purpose and the extraneous elements are actually an impediment to communication.
Same thing applies in a high school classroom where you pile in a bunch of hormonally inflamed adolescents and expect them to control their biology long enough to enjoy some sort of cognitive and intellectual development. Yes social development is important but the two should not necessarily be combined at all times.

In circumstances like these using social media to control or "keep your distance" is an adaptive response and one that planners and organizers should bear in mind when redesigning work or educational environments.

Gatin, G. (2009). Keeping your distance: A basic social process (Dissertation). Fielding Graduate University.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Steinmetz, K. F. (2012). Message received: Virtual ethnography in online message boards. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 11(1), 26 – 39. Retrieved from

Friday, March 23, 2012

Social and emotional intelligence and social media- How important is presence?

Social media has become a fact of life for many. More and more, the business and education sectors are mandating the use of online tools. Email has been a standard mode of communication and new forms of social media are rapidly expanding digital communications. A persistent concern respecting the use of web based applications is the perceived lack of social and emotional cues that are evident in face-to-face communications. Communications using digital media covers a broad spectrum from telephone, email, VOIP, microblogging, weblogs, wikis, webinar applications, and multiuser virtual environments.

What is the connection between emotional intelligence and online communication? Hanson, Grange, and Prosser (2010)studied the emotional intelligence of people in the context of their use of social media.
The results also suggest those individuals who pay attention to their own and others emotional states are less likely to have online messages misinterpreted, are less likely to experience stress in the workplace and are more confident in their ability to communicate effectively. Furthermore the study suggests individuals who believe they have a more balanced approach to problem solving (incorporating some consideration of one’s own emotions and the emotions of others in the decision-making process) and who use emotions for the successful engagement of others, will be more consistent in effectively communicating online than those that are less likely to incorporate emotion in the decision making process.

Dabbagh,(2007) has articulated some of the characteristics of successful online learners.
The emerging online learner can be described as someone who has a strong academic self-concept; is competent in the use of online learning technologies, particularly communication and collaborative technologies;
understands, values, and engages in social interaction and collaborative learning;
possesses strong interpersonal and communication skills; and is self-directed.

Many of the personal characteristics are indicative of persons with high levels of social and emotional intelligence.

In the field of online education the sense of presence has been of interest. Moore (1997) proposed a theory of transactional distance that mapped the various levels of presence available between teachers and students and between students. The theory of transactional distance has been most operationalized in efforts to reduce the distance in online communication for the purpose of teaching and learning. Gatin,(2009) proposed that people are not so much interested in narrowing the distance they feel in online learning as they are interested in controlling their distance from others using online learning as one of a array of strategies.

The effect of the sense of presence in online virtual environments has interested educational theorists (McBrien, Cheng, & Jones 2009; Warburton, 2009; Dreher, Reiners, Dreher & Dreher, 2009). How does the use of an avatar effect the sense of presence?

Real worlds and virtual worlds are becoming increasingly interconnected (Davis, Murphy, Owens, Khazanchi, &Zigurs, 2009). For example, the growth of the virtual economy has accelerated rapidly. More and more goods are being developed produced and purchased without any exchange of a tangible product. People are living more and more in virtual or digitally enhanced environments.

What special forms of social and emotional intelligence are used in virtual environments? How are social skills evolving? Can education prepare people to cope and thrive in an increasingly digital reality, the metaverse?


Dabbagh, N. (2007). The online learner: Characteristics and pedagogical implications. Contemporary Issues in Technology & Teacher Education, 7(3), 217–226.

Davis, A., Murphy, J., Owens, D., Khazanchi, D., & Zigurs, I. (2009). Avatars, people and virtual worlds: Foundations for research in metaverses. Journal of the Association of Information Systems, 10(2), 90–117. Retrieved from

Dreher, C., Reiners, T., Dreher, N., & Dreher, H. (2009). Virtual worlds as a context suited for information systems education: Discussion of pedagogical experience and curriculum design with reference to Second Life. Journal of Information Systems Education, 20(2), 211–224. Retrieved from

Gatin, G. (2009). Keeping your distance: A basic social process (Dissertation). Fielding Graduate University.

Hansen, K., Grange, L., & Prosser, C. (2010). An investigation of emotional intelligence and the use of online social media tools in organizations. Swingurn University of Technology.

Moore, M. (1997). Theory of Transactional Distance. Theoretical Principles of Distance Education (pp. 22–38). Routledge. Retrieved from

Hansen, K., Grange, L., & Prosser, C. (2010). An investigation of emotional intelligence and the use of online social media tools in organizations. Swinburn University of Technology.