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More on analysis of social media production

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Following on from Ross Mayfield's Power Law of Participation piece that I posted about yesterday, if you're interested in further thought on the subject I recommend taking a look at the following two posts.

I think that the unpicking of the woolly ideals around wisdom of crowds etc. is very useful, if we're to fully understand how all of this social media really works.

Nicholas Carr: Web 2.0's numbskull factor. Couple of choice quotes:

Although wikis and other Web 2.0 platforms for the creation of content are often described in purely egalitarian terms - as the products of communities of equals - that's just a utopian fantasy.

...Wikipedia, beyond the shiny surface of "community," you see that the encyclopedia is actually as much, or more, a product of conflict than of collaboration: It's an endless struggle by a few talented contributors to clean up the mess left by the numbskull horde.

He's right about Wikipedia. I've been doing some close analysis of some entries and you find that they have been created and cleaned by a surprisingly small number of people.

Also, Mr Carr points to Andrew McAfee's post, which warns that social computing tools may be harder to make work within organisations, questioning the inevitablity of "enterpirse 2.0" or widespread successful use of these tools in companies, suggested by the likes of Forrester:

...employees might be less likely than Web surfers to use blogs, wikis, tags, RSS, etc.:  they’ve got too many other things to do.  It’s very reasonable to believe that most busy professionals are only going to blog if it helps them get their job done.  But it’s also pretty reasonable to conclude that blogging will do exactly that. 

Lots of knowledge workers spend lots of their time on two activities: keeping their colleagues appraised of what they’re doing, what progress has been made, what they’ve learned/concluded, etc. and trying to locate resources within their own organizations— facts, references, work that’s already been done, people with relevant smarts or experience, etc.  Blogs (like the other Enterprise 2.0 tools) can help with the first of these tasks, and in doing so also help with the second.  It’s not too farfetched to envision companies in which people use Enterprise 2.0 tools to report progress, collaborate, and share the outputs of these collaborations.  These same people would probably also search the company’s internal ‘collabosphere’— the collection of blogs, wikis, group-level instant messages, tags, etc.— early and often in any effort.      

In short, I completely agree that most workers these days feel busy, and hard-pressed to keep up with both demand and supply of information.  The tools of Enterprise 2.0 can help do both.

....Perhaps the biggest leverage business leaders have in encouraging Enterprise 2.0 is that maddeningly vague word culture. If they can convince their organizations that using and contributing to the internal collabosphere is part of the fabric, identity, and life of the company, some interesting things will happen.

I'd be interested to hear what Euan Semple thinks of all this, given that he is one of the few people to have successfully worked with social media within an organisation.

UPDATE: in case you overlook the trackback - Mr Semple's already posted his view based on his experiences here; summing u he says:

"What we did at the BBC wasn't perfect and as always there were those who didn't get involved or failed to see the point of it but we did get to more than half the organisation in one way or another and once you have given people a taste for how engaging, easy and effective this way of working is there is no going back."


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Antony Mayfield points to a couple of articles questioning the chances of making social computing in organisations and he asks what I think having been one of the few people to make it happen. The main arguments of the naysayers [Read More]


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