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    Entries in socal networking (42)

    Thursday
    Apr192012

    When people know they're being watched...

    ... they behave differently.

    This observation, really given as an aside, was probably the most intriguing one that was offered during the presentations at the Social Media Strategies for HR seminar at The Conference Board in New York that I attended and co-presented with Trish McFarlane this week.  

    The take, that installing, deploying, and making central more 'social' and open or collaborative systems to support people's day-to-day work processes and workflows certainly might make the organization more collegial and efficient, but it also might come with some risk and downside as well.

    I think there is certainly something to say for the notion that for many people participation in social networks and systems is part honest, and genuine information sharing and engagement, but it also is at least (partly) a kind of performance as well. Think if you can for a minute about your Facebook feed - I will bet it is filled with perfect photos of your friends' precocious and impossibly cute children, tales of friends jetting off on some exotic location, or even long-lost relatives that you know are (largely) losers painting a way-too-flattering portrait of their lives.

    When people know they're being watched, they behave differently.

    They might embellish, they might obfuscate, or, certainly, they might simply act better and more diligently and responsibly. But either way, whether it is the popular social networks that have invaded our lives, or it is an internal or enterprise social workplace type system that at its core is designed to give lots more people a window into what the average worker bee is up to all day, I think perhaps we haven't thought enough about how being watched impacts people's actions and behaviors.

    Anyway, I'm off the soapbox.

    Let me know what you think - is more openness, transparency, and visibility into our everyday and mundane actions at work going to change how we act and how we try to present our work selves? Do we run the risk of becoming the same kind of annoying broadcasters we have become on Facebook? 

    As always, The Conference Board put on a great event, and I want to thank them for inviting me to attend and participate this week.

    Tuesday
    Apr172012

    Could Facebook become 'Facebook for the enterprise?'

    Last week and sort of quietly, Facebook announced the introduction of Groups for Schools, a collection of new features aimed at its original user base - colleges and college students. The Groups for Schools feature allows easier creation and joining of Facebook groups for those users with an active .edu email address, the domain most commonly associated with US-based colleges and universities. Updates posted in the Groups for Schools groups section for a given college will only be visible to other students who’ve also authenticated through their .edu email address. The Groups for Schools capability is a bit of a return to the original intent and use of Facebook, a platform for students to connect, share information about classes and other events, all in a more low-key and not-so-public way. Source - Facebook. Click for larger image.

    But a more interesting development than the organization and security aspects of Groups for Schools, is that in these groups Facebook will also support uploading and sharing of files up to 25 MB in size with other group members. Groups For Schools users can click an “Upload File” button above the news feed. Notable, Facebook will not permit .EXE files to be uploaded to prevent malicious programs from going viral. Other groups members will be able to download the files directly from the news feed. To avoid legal issues, Facebook plans to monitor for and to disallow the upload of copyrighted files, so college students can't try to use the platform as a source for MP3s and other protected files.

    Facebook originally started on its remarkable growth trajectory beyond Harvard by rolling out to other colleges, and then the network eventually opened up to the general public. Similarly, if Groups for Schools is successful, and Facebook sees increased engagement levels as a result of the file sharing capability, then it is not at all unlikely that Facebook Groups For Businesses or Organizations could follow. The ability to create a private, company-based group, (validated by company email addresses), with the added ability to upload and share files to group members, and to engage in an ongoing conversation about the files and the comments about those files, heck that sounds like the use case for about 90% of email-based enterprise collaboration today.

    If Facebook were to launch more advanced enterprise-like collaborative features right inside the network, it could mean interesting times ahead for solutions like Yammer and perhaps even Jive. Sure, you can argue with me and claim that these more advanced, enterprise solutions have lots more capability than a simple news feed and the ability to upload files, and while that is true, there is also something they don't have.

    They're not called Facebook. And I would bet that there would be some advantage to the potential adoption rates of a new collaborative tool at work if that tool was already used by 95% of the staff before the project even started.

    What do you think - do you see Facebook even being interested in more 'internal' enterprise networking?

    Would you use Facebook at work to collaborate with your team?


    Wednesday
    Mar142012

    BONUS CONTENT - My spot on the Oracle Apps Blog

    Please indulge a quick spot of self-promotion - today I have a post up over on the Oracle Applications Blog with some thoughts around the impact of social media and social technologies in HR, and the great opportunity and potential for HR leaders to leverage these technologies inside the organizations.

    The post is titled, Beyond Record Keeping: What Social Means for HCM, and I hope you will check it out and share your ideas and comments about Social HCM there. And while you are at it if you are interested in staying connected to what is happening in the Oracle Applications space, the world of HR Technology, (or just want another opportunity to internet-stalk me), drop the Oracle Apps Blog in your feed reader.

    The Oracle Applications blog is meant to be a resource for the HR community and will feature guest posts from key executives, strategy leaders, and Fusion Applications customers. And I will be posting there from time to time as well.

    You’ll be seeing some new names and some names that you probably already know. The goal is to provide you with the information you need to get the most out of Oracle Applications today and identify new opportunities for your business in the future.

    Thanks for the indulgence - tomorrow we will back to our regularly scheduled hijinks here on the blog.

    Wednesday
    Jan042012

    Will Facebook Kill the Car?

    When we think about disruptive technologies over the years, whether it is electrical power, fast and safe air travel, or even more modern inventions like personal computers or smartphones, we often assess and value these inventions in the context of what prior tools or processes they have impacted. Widespread availability of electrical power replaced steam power in more modern factories, air travel transformed commerce and leisure activities while getting most of us off of transcontinental trains, and each successive iteration or improvement in computer and smartphone technology moves the functionality and capability needle just a little bit further than last year's device. Sure, every so often a new breakthrough device like the iPad comes along that while not really having a natural predecessor, is mostly used to do the same types of things, (read news, send email, watch movies), that were done on other, existing devices, (primarily laptops). I'll bet even the most ardent iPad users only spend ten or twenty percent of their time actually doing something that is only made possible by the new technology alone.Cutlass

    Truly transformative and disruptive technologies do more than just offer a better version of an older tool or allow us to do the same things we were already doing before in a new, more efficient, or more powerful manner. Transformations allow us to create entirely new things, define new categories, and most importantly - change the way we lead our lives in ways that have nothing at all, (at least on the surface), to do with the technology itself. 

    I was thinking about this while reading the following piece from the BBC - 'Why are US teenagers driving less?'. It turns out American teenagers are driving less than their predecessors, and the article offers some interesting speculation on why that may be the case.  From the BBC piece:

    Recent research suggests many young Americans prefer to spend their money and time chatting to their friends online, as opposed to the more traditional pastime of cruising around in cars.

    Ok, so maybe not that transformative or disruptive. Kids like to text and Facebook. Move along, nothing to see here, right?

    Here's more from the BBC:

    In a survey to be published later this year by Gartner, 46% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they would choose internet access over owning their own car. The figure is 15% among the baby boom generation, the people that grew up in the 1950s and 60s - seen as the golden age of American motoring.

    Now that is indeed more interesting, and telling. The internet, and by implication the social connections and activities the internet empowers, (mostly via Facebook), is the gateway to freedom, mobility, coolness - all the things that the car used to represent to the teenager or young adult. A car can only take me, and maybe a couple of friends somewhere. The open web can take me anywhere. But isn't that a kind of sad, lonely tradeoff? Give up a car for Facebook? Isn't that anti-social?

    Well let's look at one example of the motivations behind, well, leaving the car behind from Wally Neil, a 25-year-old quoted in the piece:

    But it was a decision made easier by the fact that he could speak to his friends online and play games with them over the internet so did not feel he was missing out.

    "We were all pretty closely connected, even before Facebook.

    "So we were not driving to our friends' houses, there was the gaming network and all that. We were putting the car on the back burner.

    "There is a lot to be said for the video game killing the need for a car for a lot of kids."

    Really interesting, and I will bet a view on networking, connection, and even technology that most of us don't think about too often. This isn't 'gamification' as it is being tossed around in the HR Technology space fast and furious right now, but rather the social, collaborative, and disruptive power of social gaming to change a myriad of offline and seemingly unrelated behaviors. No Dad, I don't need to borrow the keys to the '94 Cutlass, we are going to play World of Warcraft this weekend.

    So the statistics say that teen driving is down in the US, and certainly gas prices and limited job opportunities have something to do with that, but looking at the data, (and the stories), a little deeper suggests that there is more to the story than a simple economic argument. If indeed a generation, the next generation of the workforce, has a set of radically different attitudes towards socializing, mobility, and connecting, then it is something we should be aware of and ready for.

    What do you think? Can Facebook really kill the car? Are your kids or colleagues exhibiting some of these same attitudes?

    Friday
    Dec302011

    2011 Rewind - Slaves to the Machine

    Note: This week I am taking a look back on some of the 2011 posts that were either popular, interesting, (at least to me), or that might warrant a re-visit for some reason before the year is officially in the books. And also after about 200 or so posts this year, I am more or less tapped out of original ideas and want to recharge a bit. So that said, I hope you enjoy this little look back at 2011 here on my tiny corner of the internets.

    I am not sure if the post from June titled 'Let's Pass on That, (The Hamster Wheel), was my best post of the year, (lack of comments and shares surely indicate that it was not), or even my favorite post of the year, (something about robots or sports would probably claim that spot), but in many ways I think the point of the piece is likely the most resonant, (at least to me), of all the big themes in the world of work in 2011.

    Ridiculous amounts of content being created, shared,  and consumed every day. Social networks and connections on these social networks keep growing exponentially. Going to bed with the iPhone, waking up with the iPad is now not that unusual. Then later in the year Facebook launches 'frictionless sharing', making push notifications of the songs you listen to and the articles you scan out to the network an afterthought. All of it adds up to a dense, deep, and limitless sea of data that many of us try, (in vain), to stay on top of.  

    In 2012 I think one of the major themes is going to be how, as individuals and organizations, we improve our ability to adapt, control, and make the technology, the deluge of information, and the power of connections and social networks serve our needs, and the needs of our organizations and communities, rather than the other way around.

    So I will leave you in 2011 with a re-rerun of 'The Hamster Wheel', and say many, many thanks for spending a little of your time this year here on the site. 

    Happy New Year!

    --------------------------------------------------------------

    Really late to the story on this, (about nine months late to be more precise), but I recently found and read an incredible piece by Dean Starkman for the Columbia Journalism Review site titled 'The Hamster Wheel'.

    In the article, Starkman compares the changes in journalistic approaches, and the increasing demands on journalists to create tons of consumable content for a myriad of platforms, (TV, radio, Web, Social Networks, blogs, live blogs,and on and on), to the proverbial caged hamster running on an exercise wheel. Lots of activity, lots of energy being expended, but no real progress, and of course the hamster ends up in exactly the same place when exhaustion sets in as it was before the running started, and theoretically it still had some options.

    In the context of the news business, Starkman describes the Hamster Wheel psyche like this:

    The Hamster Wheel isn’t speed; it’s motion for motion’s sake. The Hamster Wheel is volume without thought. It is news panic, a lack of discipline, an inability to say no. It is copy produced to meet arbitrary productivity metrics. But it’s more than just mindless volume. It’s a recalibration of the news calculus. Of the factors that affect the reporting of news, an underappreciated one is the risk/reward calculation that all professional reporters make when confronted with a story idea: How much time versus how much impact? This informal vetting system is surprisingly ruthless and ultimately efficient for one and all. The more time invested, the bigger the risk, but also the greater potential glory for the reporter, and the greater value to the public (can’t forget them!). Do you fly to Chicago to talk to that guy about that thing? Do you read that bankruptcy examiner’s report? Or do you do three things that are easier?

    It is perhaps difficult to find another industry than news and information services that has been disrupted more massively in the last 15 years or so by the rapid development of the web, the birth of so-called 'citizen journalism', and the perfect storm of cheap data plans, incredibly powerful smartphones and other mobile devices, and hundred of millions of social network platform users ready and eager to report and comment on the news - all in real-time. In the CJR piece, Starkman paints a vivid picture of increasing activity with possibly dubious benefit, and that underscores more endemic tensions in workplaces today - we are all asked to do more, or at least the same, with far less people and resources.

    The article contains an example of the Hamster Wheel in action using the illustrative chart on the right - over the last ten or so years, story production in the printed Wall Street Journal has increased substantially, with corresponding reductions in headcount leading Starkman to conclude the average WSJ reporter is now 69% more productive that in 2000. 

    In the race for web traffic, more views of a networks' or news organizations' YouTube videos, 'likes' on Facebook, or Twitter followers; Starkman makes the argument that the traditional values and importance of deeply reported and in-depth investigative pieces (the ones that can't really be tweeted), are suffering. And not only are news organizations steering away from the investment of time and resources to produce these pieces, the long-term financial benefits of the current 'Hamster Wheel' strategy are dubious at best. Some estimated claim the popular and 'Web 3.0' model of journalism The Huffington Post only creates about one dollar of revenue per reader per year.

    Is that a large, more applicable to the workplace take on all of this?  In other words, why did I just spend 45 minutes and 600 or so words writing about a nine-month old article on the news business?

    Well here goes - I think many of us of running on our own personal or organizational Hamster Wheels. We too have to be everywhere. We have to connect and communicate with colleagues and staff on many more platforms than ever before. We have to engage potential job candidates all over the social web, and create compelling engagement strategies for the conversation, (that will work on all kinds of mobile devices including ones that have not been invented yet). We have to stay on top of news, information, coming and goings in our industry in a 24/7 global context.

    In short, we kind of have convinced ourselves, just like the execs at many of the news organizations that Starkman discusses in the CJR piece, that we can't take a breath, miss a tweet, an update, follow the hashtag from a conference we could not get to, or let someone else beat us to the punch.  It is a hard way to live without any kinds of filters to know what is truly important and meaningful and what isn't.

    I'll leave you with a final nugget of insight from the the piece:

    The most underused words in the news business today: let’s pass on that.

    They might be the most underused words in your business too.

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