social media

The Price Of Pomposity

On an almost daily basis I am faced with someone asking me to tell them the return on investment of social computing in business or proclaiming that Twitter is all about people telling us what they had for breakfast. These interactions are always delivered in a particular tone -- at best pompous, at worst sneering and condescending. Every time it happens it brings back memories of countless interactions I have had with more senior managers in my organisational life.

I would argue that pomposity represents a real, and nontrivial cost to the business world in the following ways:

  1. Every time someone is faced with a pompous response to a suggestion or idea they take one step back and become much less likely to ever offer their heartfelt thoughts again. Imagine the impact this has on the creativity and innovation that organisations depend on.
  2. Many, many meetings could be done in less than half the time if there wasn't a need to feed the ego of the chairperson or more vocal participants. How many times have things gone on way too long because someone likes the sound of his own voice?
  3. How many millions and millions of pounds have been spent because someone was too pumped up and full of themselves to admit that perhaps the major project they are sponsoring should be aborted?
  4. How many fledgeling social media projects get squashed by IT departments because "professionals" have had their nose put out of joint at "amateurs" thinking they know better?
  5. How many bright, committed and intelligent potential senior managers have failed to step up to the mark because they couldn't face the antler clashing and ego massaging that goes on in the boardroom?

I could carry on but I'd better stop - I'm sure you could add many examples of your own. Seriously, the cost of all this nonsense to business is astronomical and makes the odd bit of social banter on low-cost technologies appear trivial in comparison.

Social by Social

Andy Gibson has pulled together a great list of 45 propositions for those interested in getting involved in social computing. They are all good but my particular favourites are below:

# Empowerment is unconditional. Telling people what they can and can’t do with your platform is like an electricity company restricting what its power can be used for.

# You can’t learn to fly by watching the pilot. If you want to understand new technologies, start using them. Dive in.

# Don’t centralise, aggregate. Do you really need data centralisation? Well do you? Use lots of different, disconnected tools and then pull the content together into a central location.

# Your users own the platform. If they feel own it, they will trust it, help sustain it, and find ways to use and improve the tools; if they aren’t interested, no amount of pushing will help.

Social Nervous System

I had a great, long, chat on Skype last night with Joshua-Michele Ross who recently wrote an interesting post, The Rise Of The Social Nervous System, on Forbes. Smart bloke and well worth reading the rest of the article.

Given the complexity and precarious position of the modern world, getting people to genuinely reach out and touch their neighbors is a good thing but it will come at the price of reshaping our identities as part of a larger, interconnected whole.

Steve Lawson on Twitter

... if you’re the kind of incommunicative academic-to-the-point-of-being-incoherent buffoon who thinks Twitter is narcissistic, I’d say YOU most definitely have a problem with your sense of identity. Either that, of you’re so utterly self-obsessed, that you just don’t have any friends you’re interested in. Either way, I’d rather be where I am than where you are.

More here