MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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Social Media and Social Divide

I was a little stumped by this week’s contribution on, the assigned blog I’ve been monitoring for class. It’s a little elusive as the author Mark Warschauer doesn’t really offer his thoughts on Campbell’s Law or any new developments in relation to digital learning. However, the post is thought provoking and worth exploring a little further!  In fact, it’s so short I will share it within my post so you too can digest and provide your insights:


“The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decisionmaking, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”
Campbell’s Law, put forth in 1976 by Donald Campbell, prominent American social scientist and president of the American Psychological Association”


For those of you unfamiliar with the term Social indicator, it’s basically a term used to describe various “measures of social conditions and change” within society. Examples of such social indicators used within Canada are social class or status and statistics on standards of living, education, welfare, and health- generally social issues that are recorded and measured over time to evaluate and analyze any societal changes. My initial reaction to Campbell’s Law is to agree with the notion because when you quantify social indicators such as social status you are pitting people against one another. Instead of providing data and measurement for positive changes in society like increased public funding to social services, the indicators put people on a scale and divide, thus distorting and corrupting the process as sited by founder Donald Campbell.


On the other hand, when I view this in relation to social media sites and online personalities Campbell’s Law sort of loses its persuasive strength. For example, with personal disclosure up to the individual blogger things like annual income and level of post secondary education are unknown unless the individual chooses to say so. Therefore, everyone is given the same social power. It is up to them to earn this power or enhance it based upon their insightful and relevant contributions to the online world. What’s more, as the mind(s) of the machine, implied in Elizabeth Barrette’s poem Meetspace, we have the opportunity to access this power and craft the reality we desire. Perhaps, one without societal divide, gender and sex biases or one focused on the physical body or first impressions. 


Hmmmm…what do you guys think?




May 22, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , , | Leave a comment