Conference publications

Storytelling as a Form of Marketing Communication in the World of Digital Nomads

06.06.2016

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:

The traditional life style changes as business and personal communications are moving to the Internet, and a new type of people – digital nomads – is emerging. Most activities, including commerce and advertising, transfer to WWW. Storytelling has started playing a greater role in promotion of goods and services, and politicians and parties than direct advertising.

Stories seem to be true-to-life from the first sight, but most of them have definite mythological elements. The word creates images, and myths are made out of images. Virtual narrators involve “settlers” as well as “nomads” into the brand culture creating their own “heroes” and “villains”, “beauties’ and “beasts”. The process of constructing and deconstructing different myths is going on in the “global village”. Digital nomads may take part in myth-building or destroy “sacred images” being contracted employees or doing it for fun and pleasure. 

Nomads are a specific breed. Mobility and opportunity to stay connected to the Net practically in every place of the world are typical for them. As a rule they have a broad outlook. In marketing terms they usually belong to the group of “innovators’, and “early adopters”. They are independent, enjoy non-standard thinking, and at the same time have their own opinion leaders. All these should be taken into account when one is working out an effective marketing communication with digital nomads.

The paper presents the typology of narratives as well as myths and archetypes, which are used by marketers while communicating with nomads, emphasizes the role of visualization in creating the involving content, and analyzes several successful cases, as well as failures, in which storytelling is used as a marketing instrument.
 

Digital Nomadism and Identity

06.06.2016

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:

The article is devoted to the analysis of features of identity of digital nomads, and their positive and negative aspects. The positive aspects involve desire for freedom and independence, search for new ways of being and relations, and integration into the world of humanity. The negative aspects are refusal to build relations of closeness and permanence, traditional for native cultures and the humanity in general, moral values, and marginalization. The author emphasizes that one of the most important features of digital nomadism is the phenomenon of the "loss of roots", and destruction of social identity as a result of their rejecting spiritual and moral values of their culture and the humanity, their desire for freedom as comfort and security, and release from hard work and responsibilities. These aspirations form their special attitude towards themselves and the world, in which the positive aspects related to creativity, development and enjoyment of life are combined with consumerism, stagnation and destruction of a person. First ethno-cultural and then personal identity suffers from this. The features of identity are described from the standpoint of the multicultural approach that allocates different points of view on the identity of the generation of digital natives and digital nomadism. As a result of the theoretical analysis of nomadism, the author identifies the main types of digital nomads.  The first type is the "man of the Universe" or the integrated type, whose identity is positive, and holistic. This type of nomads keeps contact with their native culture. The second type of digital nomads practice digital nomadism as a way to get away from solving personal and social problems. The third type of digital nomads is a "crazy type", whose identity, the “man without roots”, is fragmented and negative. Such people are incapable of building strong and deep relationships with anyone. The leading modes structuring the consciousness of digital nomads are freedom and dependence, closeness and alienation, work and leisure, novelty and familiarity, development and stagnation.

Keywords: digital nomadism; nomad; identity; intimacy; alienation; multiculturalism; freedom; dependence

The Evolution of Money in Favor of Digital Nomadism

06.06.2016

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:

With my short presentation I would like to examine the process which, in historical perspective, helped the small groups of people to overcome the limits of the economic exchange under the form of barter. This process is actually the emergence and the development of the money-sign. During its development the money sign was a consumable good as cattle and grain, a symbolic consumable good as cowries, metal adornments, etc., then coins and paper money. During all these times the money form was a fundamental element of the form of the social exchange, giving the framework of the various types of societies. The leading principle of the evolution of the money form was the arbitrariness of the money sign, where in the final stages we have a money sign of valueless matter per se (paper), but with the potential to carry a big economic value. Nevertheless, the digital age brought a new level of arbitrariness between the money sign and its value, bringing both to a pure communicative and non-material form. Digital nomadism has to do a lot with the return to the economic form of the barter, but freed from its original limits of coincidence in time and space.

Formation of the Educational Environment to Improve the Mobility of Professional Development of Specialists in Culture and Art

06.06.2016

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:

Professional training of a specialist requires several stages. The aim of higher educational institutions is to provide high-quality systematic training of highly qualified specialists. In the era of rapidly developing information technology the educational process is carried out through organizing information and educational environment. Kemerovo State Institute of Culture (KemGIK) is known as one of the leading centers for training and skills development in the field of culture and art. The requests for training from across the country became the rationale for the development and implementation of strategies for e-learning specialists in the sphere of culture and art. To date, at KemGIK there are two information and educational learning environments. The first one is designed to organize and support the conventional learning process of students; the second one is intended for distance-learning. Both systems operate on the MOODLE platform. Distance-learning education programs, despite the short period of implementation, proved to be successful and have a positive feedback. The coaches are not only teachers from KemSU but also experts from different regions of the country. It allows compiling the accumulated potential of the professionals. In addition, lack of attachment to fixed training places and a flexible training schedules ensures mobility of students.
 
 

Learning in Multicultural Virtual Teams: University’s Role in Training Globally Competent Graduates

06.06.2016

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:

Economic globalization and intensive information exchange has shifted former ideas about borders between countries and continents, therefore, having involved people in more extensive international interaction as well as oriented them towards increased personal and business relationships with representatives of other cultures. In this respect current and future students are more likely to become employed abroad. Internalization of labour market is largely contributed to by expanding development of information and communication technology, virtual work is becoming as common as face-to-face work. Within the given context university graduates get challenged to demonstrate the so-called global competence which addresses one’s ability to work successfully with people from other cultures. This competence is considered an increasingly important skill set for upcoming graduates. This paper briefly discusses the meaning and dimensions of the concept and research into pedagogical approaches to developing students’ global competence via university’s virtual learning environment. The paper also highlights multicultural virtual teamwork as a necessary condition for developing such a competence.

Key words
global competence, virtual team, virtual learning environment.
 


Introduction
The increasing processes of globalization hasresulted in the establishment of connections and the building interrelations among various countries in multiple spheres. Higher Education (HE), being an essential social institution and the trainer of future global citizens, can no longer function effectively without taking into consideration theworldwide socialprocesses. Students and graduates will have important interactions with representatives of foreign cultures through their study and in their future work. In this respect it crucial that during their professional training students developGlobal Competences (GC) which enable them to understand and interact with other cultures as well as successfully integrate themselves in the global community.
 
Global Competence: Definitions
Developing global competence is multidisciplinary and has been intensively investigated in philosophy, sociology, psychology, philology, and culture studies for the last three decades. Among the first to introduce the notion of cultural competence was American anthropologist Edward Hall in a series of publications: “The Silent Language”[11], “The Hidden Dimension” [12], and “Beyond Culture” [13].  Since this time, the concept Hall popularisedhas been referred to by various terms such as global competence [15], intercultural competence [7], ethno-social competence [19], ethno-cultural competence [20], polycultural competence [16], etc. Notwithstanding the variety in terminology resulting from different academic approaches these notions include informatively overlapping components. 

To address the issue of what the term Global Competence isNaffziger, Montagno, and Montag-Smitinvestigated an array of definitions and concluded that:
 
[…] being globally competent involves being able to communicate with people of different
cultures; being able to work effectively or productively, accomplishing some goal or goal set; possessing relevant skills, abilities and personal attributes; and possessing a requisite level of cultural knowledge, comprehension, and understanding.[22. P. 53]
 
Further, the National Education Association (USA) in their policy brief document on GCprovide the following components:
 
Global competence refers to the acquisition of in-depth knowledge and understanding of international issues, an appreciation of and ability to learn and work with people from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, proficiency in a foreign language, and skills to function productively in an interdependent world community.[10. P. 1]
 
The document outlines four basic elements of International Awareness, Appreciation of Cultural Diversity, Proficiency in Foreign Languages and Competitive Skills as necessary for development in order to manage in the modern world. Consequently, training courses such as The Global Competence Certificate for educators have been developed and aimed at achieving the goals set out by the NEA. The aforementioned course is a collaboration between Columbia University teacher’s college, World Savvy Organisation and Asia Society. Utilising online tools and collaborative frameworks, the programme aims to bring the world to the student and encourage the development of techniques, skills and competences necessary to bring a global environment of education to the classroom. In justifying the course, the management team state:
 
Over the last few decades, the world and the context in which students learn have changed dramatically. Yet, the U.S. educational system has not adapted, young people are being left unprepared for the global reality beyond the classroom, and global learning is still reserved for only a few high-achieving students or a select few districts. While this approach may have served a more bifurcated world of decades ago, the immediacy of global issues such as climate change, global unemployment, terrorism, and food security no longer permits that global learning be reserved for the few. Too often global learning has been narrowly confined to “learn-to-earn” curriculum organized solely around global economic competition rather than a humanistic orientation towards living collaboratively, justly, and sustainably on a fragile planet. [9]
 
The above comments lead to the understanding that no longer can we speak of GC education being a specialised course or extra-curricular activity. GC is now an integral and necessary part of the educational environment and requiretraining development for learners as it a soft-skill that is part of the current learning practices required for individuals to successful engage in a globalised environment. The need to possess intercultural, leadership, collaborative skills, linguistic and self-awareness and social adaptability are as a central components of education [8].

Global Competence: Dimensions and Components
According to the variety of methodological approaches in different academic disciplines several blocks of conceptual models of GCcan be distinguished.Despite the advantages of each model there is still a heavy demand for the methodological typology of GC skills that would be both objectively evaluated by faculty and feasible by students.

Among social, psychological and communicative publications structural models of GC prevail. Such models conventionally represent lists of qualities which are said to be productive in intercultural interaction. The unquestionable advantage of such models can be attributed to a limited number of components within GC which allows the instructor to trace the dynamics of each component separately. However, criteria for distinguishing these structural elements may seem poorly grounded. Besides, there is hardly a complex approach to analysing the interrelations between the components. The validity of such models is also questioned by researchers. The lists of characteristics they are built upon are selected largely subjectively from self-assessment questionnaires and tested with a rather limited sample of respondents[27]. However, self-assessment does provide a useful base from which educators and learners can build their skill sets [4].

Conceptual models of GC developed in pedagogical and linguistic research [29]take into account psychological stages (components) of learning such as knowledge, skills, ability, attitudes and values, and personalitycharacteristics. These models emphasize functional interconnections between these stages and reflect multivariate nonlinear character of GC acquisition.

GC models in international business and management are oriented towards acquisition of practical cross-cultural collaboration skills within the real context of professional activity. However, GC components distinguished are questioned to reflect real determinants of intercultural interaction efficiency. This is largely due to the lack of well-grounded approach to data collection. GC components may be differentiated via surveying employers [2, 21], analysing theoretical publications on international management and previously designed questionnaires [26], and interviewing employees via self-assessment inventories supplemented by eternal expert evaluation [14]. 

Developing Global Competence Via University’s Virtual Learning Environment
The brief overview of GC dimensions and components allows the authors to conclude that, first and foremost, global competence emphasizes a student’s skill and ability to collaborate in a culturally-diverse setting. Development of GC requires acquisition of the corresponding skill set via immediate experience of collaboration in a multicultural environment. However, in monolingualor homogeneous societies that enjoy a very high degree of congruity as a speech community [3, 6]students do not experience international communication practice in a physical setting.

The deficit in providing students with opportunities for real life multicultural collaboration can be compensated for by the use of virtual learning environments. From the technological perspective, a virtual learning environment is defined as an information space of interaction among participants of educational processes which results from information and communication technology; it includes all the complex computer media technologies and allows the monitoring and managing of contents in thelearning environment as well as evaluation of the participants’ communication [28]. From the organization and communication perspective, a virtual learning environment is viewed as a complex self-adjusting correction of participants’ behaviour and actions in compliance with changing conditions. The environment is also self-improving with the gradual establishment of effective interrelation and improvement while acquiring more complex types of interrelations in communicative systems, which provides feedforward and feedback between students and other participants of the educational process [28].

Contrasted to learning in a traditional face-to-face setting, a virtual learning environment offers a number of advantages. They are:

Flexibility.Opportunity to carry out educational process in the convenient place at the convenient time regardless students’ and teachers’ location.
Cost-effectiveness. Decreasing education expenses, which is especially relevant when educational process involves students from several countries.
Safe-environment.Virtual environments allow students the ability to interact with foreign groups in a controlled setting conducted in their home country and culture rather than an overseas experience that is more likely to create culture shock.
Interactivity. Use of Internet-based technologies in educational process allows to extend opportunities of interactive forms of education.
Mobility. Virtual mobility is a form of academic mobility which unlike space mobility, which implies full-time education in an educational establishment, promotes an extension of the educational process through the use of Internet-based technologies as well as establishing modern educational networks in the sphere of continuous education. Therefore, virtual mobility may be considered an opportunity for both students and teachers to move virtually in an educational space from one university to another, to acquire knowledge and transfer it, exchange experiences and overcome national restraint.

When applied to organizing intercultural interaction,a virtual learning environment can offer students and teachers from countries worldwide unique opportunities to synchronously and a-synchronously communicate with one another. It is a collaborative online interaction arranged via a multicultural virtual learning setting that allows learners to successfully address the following issues crucial for GC development:
1. Building skills of establishing and supporting contacts with representatives of others cultures. During cross-culturalonline interaction students acquire experience of immediate collaboration with representatives of other cultural groups. Asignificant constituent part of such an experience is understanding cultural dimensions which may display themselves during interaction, such as habitual means of greeting and farewell, manifestation of emotions in speech, manner of speaking, non-verbal means of communication, etc. Awareness of such peculiarities enhances the students’ readiness to build professional relationships with prospective colleagues from other countries.
2. Enhancing mobility level as part of professionalism. Immediate intercultural collaboration with representatives of other cultural groups promotes correction of false stereotypes and prejudices regarding other cultures. The image of another culture becomes more realistic, which creates prerequisites for enhancing individual student mobility as a skill related to bringing changes in their lives, e.g. changing job, place of residence, without undergoing crisis experiences. A high level of mobility, such as professional, geographical, and intercultural,means being ready to become part of new culturally diverse staff as well as to changing their place of residence internally or moving to another country to extend professional opportunities and achieve personal goals.
3. Acquiring experience of collaborative activity in an intercultural virtual team. Virtual teams are becoming a more and more popular form of collaborative activity in developed countries. Students learn to deal with difficulties typical of virtual teamwork, such as time zones differences, lack of face-to-face contact, virtual influence on their partner, etc.
4. Improving language proficiency. Enhanced interrelation between countriesresulting from globalization leads to emergence of more complex global-scale problems worldwide. Effective solutions to such problems require theinvolvement of experts with culturally diverse backgrounds and linguistic differences. The necessary condition to be part of such teams is to speak a common language and develop skills in English as an International Language.
5. Developing socio-cultural competences. Activities of cross-cultural communication require interlocutors to develop skills beyond classroom experiences. The practical nature of the communication requires students to step out of their own culture and begin the process of accepting different worldviews, complex value systems and the impact of their own behaviour upon others. Empathy, adaptability, flexibility, self-awareness and knowledge competences are developed.

Multicultural Virtual Teamwork: Virtual Classroom Best Practices
The authors’ experience in organizing collaborative learning in a Virtual Multicultural Classroom online setting testifies that effective intercultural virtual teamwork may be challenged by such factors as individual and group cultural differences, delay in feedback from partners, lack of physical presence, emergence of natural team leaders, team conflicts, etc. These factors can be roughly divided into three major categories: self-objectivity, language development, and psychological challenges[18]. Self-objectivity refers to the challenges and characteristics of the learning environment which place pressure on the individual to deal with uncertain situations beyond their control; time difference and the quality of videoconferencing determined by technology fall into this category. Language development deals with students’ level of English language knowledge, use and communicative competence. Finally, psychological challenges define the degree of the students’ involvement in the interaction due to their individual personality characteristics, influence of the environment, group formation dynamics, and differentiation of roles.

The above challenges may discourage students, contribute to their decreased participation in collaboration and even promote strengthening of existing stereotypes about another cultural group. Below are the utterances of students from Ural State Pedagogical University having participated in the Global Understanding and Global Leadership courses [5] in 2015-2016:
“I have not managed to make my partnersemail me on the collaborative project topic. Though I have written several letters,I have received only one reply asking to clear up thetopic.”
“I don’t feel like talking a lot during the videoconference. I think American students aren’t interested in the topic of our discussion. They always drink coffee and yawn.”
“My partners procrastinated. That’s why we didn’t prepare a PPT for our report.”

Participants in Krosno State College on the Global English and Global Understanding programmes in 2014-16 commented upon self-development, especially overcoming their own intragroup dynamics. The students mentioned that there was an ease of relationship with the foreign partners due to the fact that the Polish students assumed that the foreign students would have different attitudes, opinions and values. By way of contrast, and to illustrate the group dynamics which need to be overcome to attain successful communication and is part of developing GC, the Polish students commented that their own cultural group created the more stressful environment.

This aspect was illustrated by one comment that highlighted the Polish use of the pronoun “We” when speaking about individual experiences: as in “We eat our meals at 3pm in the afternoon”. As was commented, the collective nature of the speaker challenged others to disagree and offer an alternative view. Consequently, the student stated that their own socio-cultural awareness was increased through this experience and developed their need to overcome group dynamics in order to ensure that their own opinions, attitudes and beliefs were expressed.

To compensate for the influence of the aboveissues, the authors suggest a number of strategies and recommendationsfor promoting multicultural virtual teamwork. These strategies haveproved to be effective while organizing students’ collaboration during the Global Understanding, Global Leadership and Global English courses in Ural State Pedagogical University(Yekaterinburg, Russia) and Krosno State College (Krosno, Poland).

The first group of strategies relate to course design. Since virtual teamwork is carried out via online collaboration, a virtual learning environment should contribute to effective interaction among team members in terms of availability and variety of information and communication technology used.A course may include such means of interaction as videoconferencing, emailing, discussion boards, individual chats as well as social media. In this respect it is advisable that the course is designed to make the most of interactive technologies to give students an opportunity to communicate with their partners synchronously. Furthermore, students should also have asynchronous communication technology options.Collaboration in a team benefits from the use of social networks, video chats, blogs, wikis, instant messages, etc. As the authors’ experience shows, students often prefer to communicate with their foreign partners via Facebook or other social media appsrather than by email. Additionally, it is of high importance to provide preliminary education and support to ensure that students know how to use the available technologies in accordance with each particular assignment type.

Topromote rapport among team members it is crucial to create an agreeable psychological atmosphere that compensates for the lack of physical presence. This can be partially achieved though incorporating student profiles that may include a photo, brief biography data, contact information, as well as welcome messages (written welcome statements or, most preferably, audio or video self-introduction). The course should necessarily suggest collaborative learning activities since they foster learner-to-learner interaction which in its turn leads to social presence [24]. The establishment of social presence is also significantly influenced by the group size [1]. That is why collaborative assignments should be carried out in small group sizes (3-5 students per group) whatever the total number of course participants is. Collaborative learning activities may include such forms of interaction as group work, group discussions, group assignments, group projects, etc. They should be thoroughly planned in advance so that they anticipate possible teacher-teacher/teacher-students/student-studentmiscommunication issues [25].

The second group of strategies deals with course delivery and management. First and foremost, the instructor’s responsibility lies with providing clear goals and guidelines on learning activities and assessments. Considering both the teachers’ and students’ cultural background and corresponding communication styles (e.g. direct/indirect, elaborate/succinct, instrumental/affective, etc.) it is essential that task instructions are clearly delivered by team members. It is also of high importance that instructors themselves act as a role model and offer emotionally-positive frequent and regular communication. This may be achieved through prompt and timely emailing which contributes to the establishment of an online social presence [23]. It may also include striking up a conversation in face-to-face interaction in videoconferences and discussion boards, regular posting and commenting insocial media, etc. However, there should be a balance betweenthe amount of instructor’s and students’ participation in collaboration,with theinstructor being a facilitator rather than a participant.In terms of teambuilding dynamics,a group may benefit from the instructor reducing social distance and fostering rapport among students via humour, addressing students by their first names, active listening, sharing personal stories and experiences as well as positive non-verbal communication.This is especially important forstudents from high-context cultures who may experience deficit of non-verbal part of the massage while collaborating with representatives of low-context cultures.  

A further aspect of course delivery and management is the creation a third-place culture [17]. Virtual classrooms occur in a situation where the interlocutors are seated in their own culture. As such, unlike study abroad experiences, there is a safeness of the experience as at the end of the communication the participants can revert to a known environment. However, to achieve successful communication the group members on both sides need to work on the creation of a setting that enables successful outcomes. In this manner, participants may feel that they are no longer located in their home culture or in the foreign culture during conversations, but in a third-place which allows them greater freedoms and a relaxed situation. The instructors need to build a setting that encourages this psychology. This may be achieved by room design, awareness instruction or left to the interlocutors to work out themselves during their conversations.

To sum up, multicultural virtual teamwork trainingstrategies and techniques should be aimed at:

  • drawing students’ attention to cultural dimensions and associated behavioural variations during intercultural collaboration;
  • emphasizing the importance of frequent and regular interaction;
  • assisting students to overcome language and psychological barriers;
  • reducing fear of public speaking in the presence of unfamiliar people;
  • fostering rapport,creating comfortable emotional atmosphere in the group;
  • facilitating group formation;
  • considering use of collaborative assessment integrating individual, peer and instructor evaluations;
  • promoting balanced distribution of roles in the group.

Conclusion
The Global Competences developed through working in collaborative online teams lead to the extension and further development of soft-skills in intercultural communication. Leadership develops within the group as members step out of peer pressure and release themselves from their own individual fears and concerns. For many, exchange of knowledge and natural inquisitiveness leads to concerns about language proficiency, personal social skills and the new cultural environment being overcome with increasing success. Students grow, mature and broaden their horizons through such an experience. Intercultural communication becomes easier with the practice of the skills in settings that encourage conversation. Group dynamics change, develop and mature with experience and draw upon individual abilities and competences. A virtual environment is an ideal setting to enable learners to build their skills and develop natural abilities. Given the necessity of virtual communication to the modern globalised world, the authors conclude that universities, colleges and other Higher Education establishments should engage in developing cross-cultural communication courses as part of their teaching profiles.
 
 
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“Figure of Merit” for Places in Digital Nomadism Ages

06.06.2016

The report is available in the author's edition.

Presentation

Abstract:

The aim of this work is to find analogism between the “figure of merit” of electronic devices and place formulas that could be useful to explain in synthesis what could be the characteristics of a place to be considered from digital nomads to live a work experience.
Digital nomads are people with particular life style: they use to live in a sustainable, cooperative and social network oriented life; for limited period and time, they choose places in line with their particular work needs and with their life style.
Digital nomads could be particular target for places because they represent a form of knowledge and culture openness and could become a relevant driver for the place evolution. Places have to organize themselves to attract this segment organizing the efforts on specific interpretation matrix that could start from the “figure of merit” concept. Each digital nomad chooses his device using this approach that could be the key to provide the place value to them.
This work provides a “figure of merit” formula for places toward the segment of digital nomads.

Glocal cosmopolitanism: How to analyse globalized experiences of media and migration

06.06.2016

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:

In this presentation, I identify three common perspectives on media and migration (“minority,” “transnational,” and “diaspora paradigms”), and critique these paradigms as forms of methodological nationalism that assume that social relations are oriented around national cultural and state territorial coordinates.
The minority paradigm raises awareness that the experience of media and migration can be characterised by exclusion and marginalisation within a national cultural, political, and social context of inequality.
The transnational paradigm emphasises “simultaneous embeddedness” (Glick Schiller, Basch, and Szanton-Blanc, 1995, p. 48) in the countries of origin and settlement, and the incorporation of these countries in “transnational social fields” (Levitt and Glick Schiller, 2004) through media and migration.
The diaspora paradigm considers the globalisation of communication in the context of a globally distributed national population, especially an ethnic group that is associated with a particular country of origin.
To open attention to social spaces other than those associated with nation and state, I propose an alternative approach of glocal cosmopolitanism. My approach of glocal cosmopolitanism builds on Ulrich Beck’s seminal theory of “methodological cosmopolitanism” (Beck, 2006) in relation to Roland Robertson’s (1992, 1995) theory of “glocality” as a “universalism-particularism nexus”, to conceptualise a much wider range of social spaces constructed through contemporary globalised experiences of media and migration.
Analysing my interviews with Singaporean university students in Melbourne, Australia, I show that geographies of media and migration account for multiple places other than countries of origin and settlement, in open-ended “migratory project[s]” (Mai, 2004). Beyond literal places, I identify new spatial units such as particular configurations of communication spatialities, networks, and modes. These cartographies are defined in a “transmedial” context of migration (Hepp, 2009, p. 330) and media convergence (Castells, 2010, Chapter 5), through individual negotiations of “polymedia” (Madianou and Miller, 2012, 2013).

 

Nomadic Lifestyle in the Network Society: Sociological Aspect

06.06.2016

The report is available in the author's edition.

Presentation

Abstract:

There is a need to fix the consequences of those changes which became the result of the Third Industrial Revolution due to the rapid technological development; these changes actually act as determining factors for the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The attempt to link the explored transformations, which are in fact the features of the new type of society, usually called post-industrial, information, and network, with the typical characteristics of traditional, pre-industrial societies, is of a particular interest. As Bauman pointed out , "Throughout the solid stage of the modern era, nomadic habits remained out of favour ... In the fluid stage of modernity, the settled majority is ruled by the nomadic and exterritorial elite…", and nomadic life takes revenge over the principles of territoriality and settlement (Bauman, 2000). So, one of the transformation features is return to the nomadic way of life. Digital nomads, possessing the same characteristics as traditional nomads, should have a specific set of handheld mobile devices, as well as continuous access to the Internet. It is necessary for maintaining a comfortable nomadic lifestyle in today's network society.  A specific quality of modern nomads is collecting, storing and processing the data, as well as sharing and filtering the information. Network becomes the subject of inquiry by various scientific disciplines, because network is a basic characteristic of modern society. The concept of network is used as a metaphor to describe the new social quality, and as a special methodological research tool. Application of the network concept is usually associated with a set of constraints dealing with different meanings of the term “network”. This paper aims to compare various characteristics of traditional and network societies, and analyze different interpretations of the “network” proposed by the network society research.
 


The phenomenon of digital nomadism is relatively new for sociological science. The emergence of the phenomenon is affected by the development processes inthe modern societies. That is why there is a lack of special literature on this issue. The topic of digital nomads is quite popular among journalists and bloggers all over the world. But the notion of “digital nomad” in different kinds of encyclopedias and dictionaries, except Wikipedia, unfortunately, is missing. It should be noted,however, that nomadism as a core trend of the advanced societies in the 21st century, is much more discussed by sociologists, anthropologists, historians and philosophers.
The term "digital nomad" is usually associated with the work of the same name written by T. Makimoto and D. Manners, and published in 1997 [9]. However, many researchers began to use “nomad” metaphor in an attempt to make a diagnosis of the modern era. So a lot of such discussions had arisen even before the publishing of the book “Digital Nomad”.The key point of all those discussions was the believe that nomadic way of life was one of those features that was able to reflect new important trends in the development of the modern world.
Thus, in the 1970s the idea of ​​a new world perspective in the Nomadologyproject proposed by G. Deleuze and F. Guattari had appeared. In authors’ view only “Nomad” science is ableto describe and explain the situation in modern philosophy and culture. In contrast to the “State” science “Nomad” science abandons the classical “structure” category in favor to the category of  “rhizome”. It also rejects the bipolar perception of reality by division into “external-internal”, “past-future”. The idea of determinism and the principle of centralization are also diminished [6].
Another example of the theoretical composition, retaining epistemological basis transformation in the studies dealingwith social reality analysis, isR. Braidotti’sideas. She introduced an original concept of “nomadic subjects”.For Braidotti the category of “nomadic subjects” can outline theawareness of frontiers’ mobility and also can demonstrate the willingnessfor constant movements.
Theorists G. Deleuze and F. Guattari,R. Braidotticontributed to thecritical interpretation of the “subject” category. These findings led tothe radical rethinking of “subject” in the context of postmodern reality.  That, in turn,led to the revision ofmodern reality’sfundamental basesin terms of Nomadology.
In contrast to theoretical reflections on“subject” category and social reality analysis, there isalso a large number of empirical observations on the topic. These investigations describe current trends in the revival of the nomadic way of life fromessentialist positions.
Jacques Attali argues, for example, that humanity, while entering into a new post-industrial age, creates a new nomadic elite,which “will be empowered, liberated nomads bound by nothing but desire and imagination, greed and ambition” [1, p. 87] and will not value of relations with its people, its neighbors. These “new” nomadswill not have affection to their native land.
Z. Bauman describes contemporary society as a “revenge of the nomads”, stating that “long stretch of history which began with the triumph of settled over the nomads is now coming to its end ...” [4].
Many theorists (Z. Bauman, J. Attali, A. Bard and J. Zoderkvist, W. Mitchell et al.) assert a new hierarchy within power positions of “new” nomads. Travelling light and fast, without responsibilities and commitments; possession of a large number of nomadic objects, living on the surface of chaos became typical for new extraterritorial elites, those who are on the top of power hierarchy in the modern world.
Considering the history of human society, based on the principle of its division into three periods – pre-industrial, industrial and post-industrial, one can conclude that the “traditional” nomadism is typical mainly for the pre-industrial stage, and digital nomadism is a phenomenon of the post-industrial historical stage, which can be also called the stage of “the network society”. Since network has become one of the primary attributes of digital nomads, it is important to define what traits constitute the network society.
Contemporary social transformations undoubtedly arenew for the human history. A few decades ago nothing familiar was observed. On the contrary, societies were characterized by a large number of stable, hierarchical and centralized structures, limited in spatial and temporal boundaries. Stable workplace and material property were the necessary features of success and individual’shigh level of social status.So all these new tendencies forced the researchers to analyze and explain such a radical social changings. For these purposes a huge number of different concepts of modern society had appeared. Theorists of post-industrial and information society, representatives of postmodernist sociology, globalization theorists tried to correlatethe emergence of a new type of society with the historical and social context of the Third Industrial Revolution, as well as with dynamic globalization processes. In this sense “the network society” concept has become a fundamental sociological concept, which is used to describe modern societiesin which there was a wide spread of information and communication technologies.“Actually, we are talking about the fact that in a range of modern sociological theories the structural-functionalist and interactionist sociological orthodoxmorphology is replacing now by the network morphology of society” [11, p.39].
“The notion of network, which until the 1970s, was a relatively specialist or marginal usage - has since become the object of much attention and is now to be found at the heart a large, fairly diverse number of a large theoretical or empirical works in several disciplines - so much so that promoters of these developments readily talk about a new paradigm” [5, p.138-139]. The ubiquity of networks in contemporary political and economic life, strengthen the position of network thinking. “Network” category is considered as “a metaphor and as a form of individual and collective life” [3, p. 85].
“Network” concept  became crucial in describing new social features. These features  are characterized by individualization, the emergence of new forms of social interaction and the development of new technologies, including the new media expansion, which have radically transformed  the temporal and spatial boundaries. The concept of network is used as a metaphor to describe the new social substance, and as a special methodological tool for social structure research.
Society can be defined as a “network society”, if it is characterized by digital network communication, and the principal form of organization and interaction of social, political and economic groups and organizations within the network society and beyond it, are formed and institutionalized in networks.The phenomenon of digital nomadism is rooted in fact in the processes of ubiquitous digitalization and networkingin modern societies.
Here it seems appropriate to refer to the characteristics of “traditional” nomads (in this case we are talking about the nomads of the pre-industrial stage)to compare them with features of digital nomads of the post-industrial, network societies.
Nomadism can be defined as a regular movement of individuals or groups and spatial mobility. Nomadism is also referred to the specific character of economic activity and the  particular nomadic way of life. From this point of viewa comparative analysis of traditional and digital nomads will be carried out.
Currently the number of representatives of traditional nomads is limited by the number of 40-50 million people. This number includes families and ethnic groups, who have got nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle in different parts of the world.
Nomadism in its traditional sense is characterized by a set of particular qualities of nomads, which  distinguish them from those who lead a sedentary way of life. Firstly, it is a specific type of economic activity, secondly, it is a unique culture and worldviews of nomadic peoples and thirdly, it is their special way of life.
Traditional nomadic life is inherent in the type of culture, which is called - a nomadic culture. This type refers to the traditional culture, which, in contrast to innovation, is based on collectivism, traditions and a rigid normative orientation of action. Mobile pastoralism is one of the most popular activities among nomads. Usually almost all the population of the tribe takes part in this activity. Nomadsuse specific technologies and artifacts, including collapsible housing.They preferstrong ties within their tribein social relations. It is common that other people are perceived as outsiders. The important role in their spiritual life plays mythological and symbolic perception of the world, as well as specific beliefs and practices [7].
Permanent movement is one of the fundamental values ​​of traditional nomads. They also appreciate the respectful attitude to the older generationand thepriority of the family over the interests of their own. Deep sense of unity, collectivism and the commitment to the family became the result of severe climate and fair of constant external threats from numerous sedentary neighbors. Wealth for nomads is a large livestock and rich housing. The symbolic perception of the surrounding world for nomads is essential. It is perceived as a space which is  filled with the symbols of the sky, the steppe and the mountains, as well as through mythologized images of various animals and special ritual attributes.
The influence of traditional nomadism in human history is extremely large. They had a special mission of discovery and conquest of unknown lands for several millennia. Therefore, their achievements and movements had a strong impact on core trend of ancient and medieval settledsocieties.
The transition from pre-industrial to industrial type of society caused the reduction ofnomads.The reason of such transformationsis grounded in transition to a settled way of life, which took place under the pressure ofmore powerful civilizations.Dynamic industrialization processes caused by the First and the Second Industrial Revolutions also induced these great changings.
The features of digital nomadism will be demonstrated by the contrast characteristics of traditional nomads. For the purpose of this comparative analysis theoretical positionof  Z. Bauman, W. Mitchell, A. Bard and J. Zoderkvist, and J. Attali, claiming a nomadic life as a fundamental characteristic of the modern era, will be observed.
“Digital nomads are people who, in the processes of their professional activities (or studying, creating art, free time), are not confined to particular spots through using Internet technologies and mobile connection. Therefore, the phenomenon of digital nomads belongs solely to the network information-communication society. It appeared in the context of two inter-dependent global trends: mobility and digitalization” [8].
For W. Mitchell the electronic form of nomadism is based not on the territory, as it was before. It is based on wireless infrastructure, combined with other networks, and expanded around the globe. Today, the operation of networks is supported by a complex combination of personal contacts on the site and in travelling, in postal services, synchronized contacts via telephone and video and asynchronous - via e-mail [10].
Modern nomads nowadays in contrast to the pre-industrial era are not intended to movement within the territory in search of food and water. Traditional nomadic way of life was the need, on the one hand, and it impeded their further development,on the other hand. They could not have more than they were able to carry with them. The mobility of modern nomads, on the contrary, provides great opportunities - as an extension of intellectual horizons, meeting new people and places, communication and cooperation with experts all over the world.
Digital nomads concern about opportunities and access privileges. It is rather important than the traditional forms of ownership and property management. Credit card, passport and laptop electronic equipment help modern nomads to get access and to be in touchthrough connection to the worldwide network at any time and in any place.
For traditional nomads wealth should be measured by placing it here and now. In digital nomads view wealth and power are presented in the most abstract and mobile form.
Instead of traditional nomadic tribes electronic tribes are now very popular. They have their own rules and regulations through netiquette norms.The exclusion from the vital networks is the most severe sanction for rules violation [2].
There are unlimited possibilities for the virtual nomadic tribes, which give opportunity in shaping of new mobile family structures. Tribal cultural stratification, this virtual return to nomadic times through electronic networks is marked by the idea of the absence of a permanent home.So this fact stimulates various experiments with different life styles.
A. Bard and J. Zoderkvist point out, thatnetocracy mobility - first virtual, but now more and more physical - leaves deep traces in social and cultural spheres. The rise of mobility and level of speed, for better or worse, increase the feeling of isolation from the roots. New networks become now oases for nomads. So the idea of ​​the house is out of use. High mobility degree reflects high individual’s social status. If Internet homepage is constantly updated, it makes the function of permanent residence now[2].
J. Attali shows that “people have always had nomadic objects, essential tools for human survival: stone and flint for making fire; amulets for warding off evil and disease; hammers and other tools for building shelter; weapons, from spears to guns, for defense and for war; coins and the letter of credit for the buying and selling of goods”. These precious objects have often been a way of measuring the relative power of their possessor. Nowadays such nomadic objects are of small size. Inspite of their size these items are transforming modern life greatly. Earlier pagan believed in vital spirit of amulets, and now digital nomad believes in vital spirit of electronic devices. Therefore, the possession of nomadic objects is becoming a sign of freedom and power [1].
In conclusion a brief comparative analysis of the characteristics of traditional and digital nomad will be carried out. Digital nomadism of the network era is a fundamentally new phenomenon for human societies. The phenomenon of traditional nomadism of pre-industrial societies and the phenomenon of digital nomadism are not the same. Without a doubt, these two types of nomads have got a number of similar features. In both cases we are talking about the regular movements caused by the special nature of economic activity. They usespecial nomadic objects in their everyday activities. They also have a specific way of life and thought. However, perhaps here similarities are coming to an end.
Digital nomads belong to an innovative type of culture, which is based on the principles of individualization, the constant pursuit of innovation and new discoveries, as well as new connections. It is important that these principles are not just style, but also the meaning of their lives. For the traditional nomads the constant movement and the conquest of new territories, the making new contactsare rather caused by the need to survive in difficult natural conditions. Digital nomads are characterized by the “isolation from their roots”, the presence of numerous weak ties, not limited in space and time, as well as the desire to make experiments with different life styles, leading to radical changes in different social structure and institutions. Wealth of digital nomads is presented in an abstract and extremely mobile form, unlike traditional nomads, for whom it is important to possess here and now.
T. Makimoto and D. Manners believe that “Nomadism won’t affect human nature – the most it can do is change human behavior. By changing human circumstances for the better, by removing some stresses and some restrictions of modern life and by giving people a sense of connecting and belonging, the emergence of nomadism as a mainstream lifestyle could have a beneficial effect on human behavior” [9].
 
References

  1. Attali, J. (1991). Millennium: Winners and Losers in the Coming World Order. New York: Random House.
  2. Bard, A. &Soderqvist J. (2002). Netocracy: the New Power Elite and Life after Capitalism. Pearson FT Press.
  3. Barry A. (2001). Political Machines: Governing a Technological Society. London and New York: Athlone Press.
  4. Bauman Z. (2001). The Individualized Society. Cambridge: Polity.
  5. Boltanski L. &Chiapello E. (2005). The New Spirit of Capitalism. Verso.
  6. Deleuze, G., &Guattari, F. (1987). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  7. Khazanov, A. (1984). Nomads and the Outside World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
  8. Kuzheleva-Sagan I., Nosova S. Culture of Digital Nomads: Ontological, Anthropological, and Semiotic aspects.  Retrieved from http://www.iass-ais.org/proceedings2014/view_lesson.php?id=64
  9. MakimotoT.,& Manners D. (1997). Digital Nomad. New York: Wiley. 
  10. Mitchell W.J. (2003). ME++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City. The MIT Press.
  11. Polyakova N.L. (2015). New Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology at the Beginning of the 21st century. Moscow State University Bulletin. Series 18. Sociology and Political Science. 2, 29-46.

Digitization in Mediatized World: Cases, Conflicts and Causes

06.06.2016

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:

Different theorists recognize the ubiquity of media in contemporary society. In terms of «Mediatization» (e.g. Krotz 2008) or «Mediatic turn» (e.g. Friesen and Hug 2009) scholars attempt to describe the transition of using media between former generations and the current one. Nowadays, the everyday life of children and adolescents is interpenetrated by media. They use media devices to communicate, to be entertained, to inform themselves, et cetera. A life without media seems to be unimaginable. Media are incorporated in ordinary life. Young people are growing up in different environments that offer different learning opportunities. Media play a special role in the formal and informal educational contexts of children and adolescents because media are an essential part of their culture with their families, their friends and within their schools (e.g. Livingstone and Bovill 2001). In many European countries there is a clear difference between high media access and frequent use at home, and minor access and less frequent use in schools, in particular in Germany (cf. Herzig and Grafe 2007; EuroMeduc 2009). All in all, there seems to be a gap between the media use in different educational contexts of young people, which is difficult to bridge.

Currently, there is a need for further research about the media cultures and practices of children and adolescents in formal and informal educational contexts and especially about how the gaps can be bridged and how the change in society’s media culture can be integrated into schools (cf. BMFSJ 2005). If we focus on these gaps from a media pedagogical point of view it is necessary to point out a clear understanding of «media» as well as a precise understanding of «contexts». Therefore, we present a definition of media which is sustainable for both, analog and digital media (Herzig 2012). This definition is interdisciplinary. An important condition is the possibility to describe elementary processes of computer sciences as semiotic processes. Software development is one example that is adequate to illustrate this assumption.

The theoretical basis of the definition consists of Peirce’s ideas about semiotics and Luhmann’s sociological systems theory. Media (devices and products) can be characterized as patterns, which are readable as signs. These patterns are able to offer cognitive systems the potential of creating meaning and producing knowledge. On the one hand they are inscribed in technology or materiality; on the other hand they can be presented, saved, broadcasted or manipulated with technological support. To analyze the gaps between learning in formal and informal contexts we apply this definition of media on a specific understanding of contexts. We concentrate on the interpenetration of contexts as networks by Castells on one side and the perspective of contexts as socials systems by Luhmann on the other side. In this way, we create a theoretical framework that allows us to do research on acting and learning with media of children and adolescents in their everyday life.

What is the specific benefit of reflecting media from a network perspective? In his concept of a network society, Manuel Castells (2000) describes changes in our society: Cultural, economic and political factors led to the power and efficiency that characterize today’s networks, for example financial networks. In this understanding networks form the basic units of modern societies. They consist of nodes that are interrelated (Castells 2001b, 432). Nodes can be persons, groups, social movements or enterprises, for example. Thinking in networks means a focus on structures and on processes. Information flows circulate simultaneously and independently from spaces or territories. Networks are open structures and able to add or remove nodes, according to the goals and rules of the network (Castells 2011a, 528; Castells 2005, 7). Networks are not new organizational forms, but digital technologies have changed the character of networks: They became more flexible and adaptive (ibid., 4). According to this concept, traditional institutions, like school, are confronted with these developments and must react. The network society requires an adequate concept of school. «School at the end of the culture of the book» (Böhme 2006) or school in the «Internet Galaxy» (Castells 2001a) must differ from the concept of school that was established in the Industrial Age.

Digitization of society influences pedagogical approaches. Inclusion and exclusion are the dominating network operations (Castells 2004, 3). The perception of space and time has changed in the network society. Information and communication technologies, especially the Internet, led space to become a «space of flows» and time a «timeless time» (Castells 2004, 55 ff.). Social networks are communication structures.