I followed a thread this morning from TechMeme over to the most unobvious of sites, www.thinkvitamin.com, where one Ryan Carson explained "Why I Don't Use Social Software."
I was sympathetic to the essence of his plight. So many social networking apps, so little time. Who has all the free time to pursue and take advantage of these sites, particularly when such sites are spawning faster than an upstream salmon sprint?
As he explains, "I'm a fairly typical web citizen. I'm 28, married, make a reasonable wage, own a house and I have a few close friends. You'd think I'd be a Web app company's dream, but I'm not."
I understand from where Mr. Carson comes. It's part of my job at IBM to try and keep up with Internet technology trends and opportunities, and I am constantly overwhelmed by the breakneck pace of innovation and new sites and technologies. It's enough to drive a man to stop surfing and go lay on a black sand beach, sans Blackberry.
But despite all the Bubble 2.0 talk, I do think there's something important and noteworthy going on with respect to social apps and networking. And while I agree with Mr. Carson that it becomes prohibitive to personall participate in every new social site that comes along, I think that that has to be distinguished between one individual's participation (or lack thereof) and the larger emerging trend.
First and foremost, follow the eyeballs. It's no secret that eyeballs for traditional media such as network and broadcast TV are shifting to the interactive media, and social applications are capitalizing on that shift. Anybody checked MySpace's ad rate card lately?
Mr. Carson notes the "most successful sites right now are ones that have engaged a largely younger audience that is now growing up with tagging, online identity issues and blogging."
Precisely. And as those kids grow into adulthood and get careers and get busy like all the rest of us, while they will indeed spend less time on such sites, their expectations of what a good online experience is will have been shaped by tagging and social networking and all the other emerging -ings out there.
Second, it's very easy to miss the consumer forest for the enterprise trees here. As these technologies become embraced by all the 18-24s out there, their usage will penetrate into the enterprise (in many cases they already are). It certainly happened with instant messaging, and I suspect the boom in social computing will follow suit.
At IBM, we're already exploring the benefits of social bookmarking as a useful way of classifying online information through our Dogear project (think of it as an inside-the-firewall del.icio.us).
I, as do so many others, spend more of my time these days trying to find the right information than I do acting on it. As the features and functions of these social applications (hopefully) continue to seep into the enterprise, there will be huge opportunity for social innovation and collaboration in business.
Because business is, by its very nature, a community-oriented activity. The more these social applications can embrace the need for widespread communication and collaboration inside the enterprise, particularly as business becomes increasingly globalized and on demand, the easier all of our jobs have the potential to become.
Now, will somebody please invent a wi-fi social computing tablet with all the requisite Social 2.0 apps that I can put on the steering wheel of a golf cart, right next to my golf GPS navigation system?
On second thought...[Read More]