Social Capital and Rationality

In the first chapter of Sociological Insight, Randall Collins explains that groups and societies are based on reasoning and rational agreements, but also lie upon a non-rational foundation. When faced with a decision, an individual is influenced by certain conditions that make them choose a non-rational path to come to a rational outcome. He also explains that rationality is limited and only appears under certain conditions. Two types of rationality described were functional rationality, consisting of calculating how a result can be achieved most efficiently, and substantive rationality, which considers the ends (Collins 1992 p3-29).

An example that Collins gives is the case of a social contract. Both parties to the contract want to gain the most benefit from the agreement. The most rational decision would be to cheat the other person, thus reducing your risk and getting the most gain out of the deal. Often the case is that the non-rational decision is made to uphold the contract and to not cheat. This non-rational decision is influenced by other means, one example is Durkheim’s theory for non-rational solidarity, which lies in the notion of trust. People can work together to build a society and hold their side of the social contract because they don’t have to rationally decide if they might get cheated. They can put trust in other individuals not to break the contract, thus allowing a non-rational decision to become a rational outcome (Collins 1992 p11).

In Robert D. Putnam’s Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital, Putnam explains that since World War II the popularity of bowling has increased, however, group bowling has decreased significantly while bowling by individuals has been on the rise. He believes this shows that social capital, or connections within social networks, has been declining in the US. Another example is that Americans are participating less and less in voluntary group associations. This observation can be linked to specific changes such as busy lives, increased work, change in family life, and women working more. However Putnam believes the rise in technology is the most influential social capital killer(Putnam 1995 p71).

One of the major influences of declining social capital is believed to be the invention of the television. The television was brought into American households around the 1960’s and has created “radically privatizing and individualizing” of leisure time. Instead of congregating in groups and playing games, groups focus their attention on a television screen and become absorbed into the life of a television show or movie and not those around them. This is even more pronouced with the advancement of computers and the Internet. Only one person can use a computer at a time, compared to a television where multiple people can view the same show, creating an even more individualistic form of entertainment(Putnam 1995 p77).

Capitalism as a whole encourages people to make their own decisions and gain the rewards of success or embrace the punishment of failure. The immense options of choice in the world has increased such as hobbies, activities and political interests. It is increasingly difficult to find like minded individuals in a society of so much choice. In the case of politics, it’s hard to match individual beliefs and views to a single running candidate from a specific party. With all the complex issues that plague the world, it is hard to choose between the man in red on the right and the man in blue on the left when their opinions do not specifically line up with many individuals.

With social capital decreasing in many societies and individualism on the rise, the lack of society congregating in groups leads to less trust. Societies are no longer interacting as a whole. The inability of individuals to make a trust-based non-rational decision is becoming a problem. If individuals can not trust those around them, then social contracts will be cheated on and a society will not work as a group to improve the efficiency of society as a whole. Although there are still other factors that bind social contracts, such as the governmental laws and long-term payoffs of an existing relationship, trust is required to create a successful, cooperative and efficient society.

UW Madison 2007 Season Football Tickets become pricey

My father informed me that I received my UW Madison Season Football Tickets in the mail. I checked over on Exchange Hut, UW student’s largest ticket exchange website, and found out that a Fall 2007 set of Upperclass Student Season Tickets were recently sold for $550, Yikes!

The large price on season tickets are partly due to an e-mail glitch the UW Athletic Department made. Of their entire list of students to send e-mail to, they only sent out an e-mails to 20% of the student body informing students that tickets would go on sale the upcoming week. When tickets went on sale, they sold out in 3 days, and many hardcore fans were never informed that they went on sale. That sucks. So now there are a bunch of students who have season football tickets, but would rather sell them to hardcore fans that really want to be at the game.

I’ve also checked out criagslist where it seems the set price is hovering around $450-$550. With 7 home games, this puts an individual ticket price at $78. In my opinion, this is way too much money. With a student body of around 40,000+ and only around 10,000 student tickets, and many freshmen that missed out on the ticket lottery, this has spurred a huge increase in ticket prices, talk to an economics major if you want to get into the nitty gritty of the supply and demand curve.

My advice is to wait it out, there are many people throwing out ridiculous prices right now just to hype it up. There is plenty of supply, and even though there is alot of demand, it will die down, especially if the badgers have an off season. I also suggest to buy tickets individually, many times friends go away for the weekend, especially since there are four home games in a row.

Want Your TV Links?

Your Tv Link is another TV Links site. When I went to visit the site though, about 2 seconds after it loaded, a full size pop up ad jumped out at me. I tried to press the skip ad button, but the ad kept reappearing and wouldn’t let me load the site. Now, however, Your TV Links has gotten a recent upgrade. Compared to the old site which housed links to pirated content around the web, now the site is in the form of a blog. Your TV Links now posts weird, funny and wacky videos that someone who wants to waste a couple hours of their life can sit and watch the minute long clips to give them a good chuckle.

Along the lines of watching funny video clips form sites like youtube and veoh, you can also rate a video, write a personal comment on what you think of it, and check out the most popular videos on the site. I’m going to predict more and more of these sites will start popping up. It looks like Your TV Links is using a software designed specifically as a video blog with all of the functionality pre-built into it.

From a business standpoint, this site is 10 times better than the previous one. Your TV Links is now posting around 10-20 new videos a day, which will definitely give your fill, and allow you to come back and see fresh hilariously new content. Enabling users to comment on videos, which there seem to be alot of comment coming in, allows search engines to pick up on all the comments and give each page higher ranking. It is also getting away from linking to pirated content, I don’t know if this is from pressure from a higher authority, or if it was just a wise business decision. Either way, the web just got a little nicer, and less piratey with the addition of Your TV Links!

The Campus Atlas

After 4 month is work, I am ready to unveil my next creation, which is called by the name of “The Campus Atlas”. The Campus Atlas is a new website based in the heart of the UW-Madison Campus that delivers UW-Madison College Students useful information about the surrounding campus by listing featured restaurants, and hot links to around campus and the web.

Some cool features include Google Web, Local and Video search. Searching the entire amazon product catalog base, searching Madison’s Craigslist, and having a wikipedia search. Besides searching the web through Campus Atlas, you can also do Professor Ratings search’s from Rate My Professor .com , hot links to around campus and the web, a database of embedded flash games, a news feed reader to many popular Madison newspapers and blogs, and drink specials for bars around Madison. Yes, now you can see why this project has taken me 4 months.

We are plugged into the Google Repository and are using their API extensively to deliver you Google Maps, YouTube videos embedded in the site, Local Resturaunt Searches, visual displaying of featured business’s with quick links to get directions, and you can also do google web searches without even leaving the page! Whew, thats some gnarly stuff right there.

One thing that sets Campus Atlas apart from everything else is it uses AJAX technology, which loads new content onto the page without a page reload, thus saving the end user alot of time, from the already huge amount of time their saving by having everything brought to them in one spot.

Even if you don’t live in Madison, you can still check the local weather, get quick links to e-mail, and search the world wide web, all through The Campus Atlas. So be sure to click the house icon at the top and set Campus Atlas as your homepage!

All Online Games – Alluc for Games – allonga org

Alluc.org has been working on some side projects as of lately. Their most recent being “All Online Games” or the hyperlink is Allonga.org which was launched today, Monday September 10th, 2007.

From the looks it it, the new All Online Games site is using the same content management software that is used to house all the Alluc links. They are already boasting a database of over 17,000 links, quite impressive, however the main distinction between Alluc.org and Allonga.org is that all the links to Allonga.org are not illegal, and don’t ride along the lines of linking to illegal content, but more on the links of linking to poplar games that can be found at legitimate sites.

If you house an online gaming website, I would seriously recommend uploading your entire database of games to the site, to help deliver quality traffic to your site, and to build up links. I think the deciding factor for this site that will make it successful is extremely active userbase if alluc.org that will be visiting this site frequently.

This is All Online Games’s description they have up on their homepage at the moment, with spelling mistakes corrected 😉

Free Music on Pandora Internet Radio Station

What is Pandora Internet Radio?

For the past couple months I have been using the new Pandora Internet Radio Station. Pandora is a free service that streams music to your computer, the kicker, it creates a radio channel based on a specific artist and then plays relevant songs based on that artists style. For example, say you like Eric Clapton. Enter in Eric Clapton and Pandora will instantly start playing music from Eric Clapton’s collection and also other music that is similar to Clapton’s style. Pretty cool eh? It only gets better.

Its in the vote

So now your listening to some free music, and Pandora suggests a really bad song. “I don’t want to listen to this crap” you say. All you have to do is hover over the album cover art and press the thumbs down button. It will automatically skip the song and go onto a different one. There is also an option for thumbs up if you really like a song. Depending on how you vote, Pandora’s algorithm for choosing songs will now play songs tailored to similar songs that you like and will not play songs that you don’t like. Wow, thats sweet, it dives deep into each aspect of the song, the instruments, the tempo, the genre, and based on what you like, don’t like, and even what other people like, Pandora will come up with music, based on it’s algorithmic calculation, that you will enjoy.

Free Music? Ah, Targeted Advertising

Pandora is free, but with the addition of a full page advertisements that border the Pandora music player. Advertisements seem to range from promoting musical concerts to alcohol related advertisements. One thing thats interesting to think about is that Pandora knows an incredible amount of information about you. Sociologists can make accurate predicts based on what type of music you listen to, and Pandora knows exactly what music you like, and what music you don’t like, which enables them to place you in a very targeted demographic. As far as advertising, this is huge, since they can now show you highly targeted ads, based on your music style.

Pandora Problems?

So far I have very few complaints of Pandora. I have been using it for the past 3 months, and it’s really nice to have someone else find new music for you. I’ve expanding my music intake, and have found new music that I would have never found before. One problem is that Pandora plays a lot of repeats, most of which I have “Thumbed Up”. They could expand their music collection, but they are in the middle of a large legal litigation over the right of internet radio. Overall though, give Pandora a try, and you probably will fall in love.

Holy Schmoley It’s Been A Long Time

Wow, it’s been over 2 and half months since I’ve written a post on this website. I’ve been pretty busy with school, and one of my websites started getting an enormous amount of traffic, so I’ve been trying to keep that site updated. I also tried to do some updates to the administration panel for this blog and during construction I got sidetracked and let the admin panel in limbo, but I have it fixed now, no worries!.

The semester is almost coming to an end, now being the last week of class with only finals week left! Planning on doing some nice relaxing over winter break back in Green Bay and going out west to Big Sky Montana to do some big mountain snowboarding, oh yea oh yea!

Thats about it for now, just wanted to make a post to see if this blog still works, which it does, so awesome!

Free Laptop Nation, another scam?

I was listening to the radio on the way to the grocery store this past weekend and heard another amazing commercial telling me that I can get a free laptop by going to the website: Free Laptop Nation! I was like, no way, there going to just give me a free laptop? I wrote a blog post about a sister site of free laptop nation called, I want My Free Laptop .com. That post has been blowing up with people wondering if the site is really a scam or not, the post has over 36 posts, most from people saying they are poor or in college and really want their free laptop that these commercials are offering.

These sites are typical 1990’s internet schemes, and I can’t believe they are still around and actually advertising on the radio. The general theme is that they have many offers that you can complete, from signing up for credit cards, to signing up for subscription offers. For everything that you sign up for, most of which cost you money, they get a commission. They then use that commission to buy you a laptop and keep the remaining commission left over. However, it takes a massive amount of offers to actually qualify for them to send you a free laptop.

Free laptops sound nice and dandy, but it would probably be easier for you to get a job and buy a nice $600 laptop from dell.com. The site is usually a scam and please don’t write comments asking where you can get a free laptop, because you simple can’t. There is no such thing as a free laptop, sorry to inform you.