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#csnf – Lee Bryant and Credit Crunch Culture

Lee Bryant’s thesis is that businesses cannot afford big expensive investments right now, but that social tools can give us decent returns from low investments.

Deliver more for less, and investing things that save money

Social tools can rejuvenate old systems by putting a social layer on the top. 
Trust is fundamentally cheaper than control.
In the late 1990s intranets and the internet forked. The Internet went social, the intranets didn’t. The internet has had umpteen users testing and feeding back on all its products. The intranet has lacked that evolutionary pressure. IT are rarely good user experience designers, and most people don’t care. eBay’s reputations system is 10 years old – nothing like it has appeared on intranets yet.
You need to look at the concept of network productivity. Over time, the network becomes more productive. We need to look at that, rather than just individual productivity. Cisco has reduced business planning from 6 months to one week using these tools.
We’re wasting too much brain power in our organisation. We spend a lot of money on people, and sit them in front of Neanderthal tools. We also need to make use of hidden data and shared intelligence, like people’s searches and click-streams. Microblogging gives us ambient awareness of what people are doing – and thus improve decision-making.
More and more platforms are including small elements of social networking, because these status updates are vital.
People start to negociate meaning for themselves – planned taxonomies are passing away…
It takes one to two years for good adoption and up to five to really transform businesses.

#csnf – For and Against Social Networks

James Garner is leading a reasonably robust panel on the pros and cons of social networking.
Panel are Euan Semple, a social media consultant, Trish Hunt from Dell and Dirk Singer of Cow.
Euan Semple – People confuse the internal and external use of social networking. But the line is blurring. I’m hearing more and more stories of people going home to work, because they can be more effective there. Doesn’t want to respond to corporate Twitter accounts, because he doesn’t know who the person is.
Trish Hunt – Yes, blurred. If you’re speaking on behalf of the company, you should have responsibility. (She keeps calling Twitter “Tweeter”)
Dirk Singer – First job with internet, they had to collect e-mail, for control. That’s gone and will go with social networks,
ES: 10 to 20 years for command and control to go. Social networking is fun but does it add to the ROI of the company? Same can be said of meetings…
TH: People finding that they can share information and avoid meetings is a big benefir, especially if the can come into the office less.
ES: HR is embodiment of C&C backed up by IT – they have the most to lose, but the biggest opportunity.
TH: Disagree. From a  Dell perspective, we’re committed to it, but there is monitoring and management.
DS: Survey after survey after survey shows that most companies are taking a different approach, and are becoming more restrictive. Laurel Papworth is a good source for this. 
One of the audience asked about the death of e-mail. Euan siad he didnt think it was dead, but people need to learn to manage it better. Trish agreed. The questioner asked then if e-mail was more considered than Twitter, which Dirk countered by saying that 140 characters forces consideration. 
Biggest Blockers?
ES: Culture
TH: Sales force who think it gets in the way of the sale
DS: Bosses, who don’t think it’s work. 

Niall Cook on Corporate Social Networking

Niall Cook has started his talk with a challenge to preconceptions about social networking in corporates. It's not a case of buying something with Enterprise 2.0 on the box and thinking it will work. It won't. 

Any innovation in history usually is based around a technology that has been around for a while, but it requires a perfect political. social, technological storm to make it work.
The credit crunch is what is making it work. The "R" of ROI doesn't need to be much if the "I" is very small. You don't need to spend millions to get something that works. Our existing internal systems don't work. E-mail is overloaded. Intranets aren't working either. They're not collaboration tools, they're publishing tools and nobody's interested. The more social stuff is the only place that traffic will be holding up.
There's a shift from CEO as God to CEO as guide. And employees don't want command and control any more - they want managed engagement. The research says that if you're employees aren't engaged, they're creative negative value for your company. 
The workplace and the business are changing. It's more mobile, and more information-focused. The expectation of the workforce is greater than ever. They don't go "I'm at work now, I'm quite happy working in this structured, clunky system and then go home and use Facebook." They won't put up with the old-fashioned stuff any more. There's a shift in the psychological contract between employer and employee.
Digital natives are entering workforce - they don't care what impact their technology choices have on the business. Technology is part of their culture and they won't leave it at the door. 

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Le Web 08: The Social Stack

marc canter

Marc Canter (who didn't, in fact, perish yesterday) lead an entertainingly scrappy session on open standards around social information. He started by giving Facebook's senior platform manager Dave Morin a hard time about Facebook apps. Has the social network pushed apps back with the recent revamp of the site?

Morin responded that there were always multiple integration points for apps, and the most important was the profile box, but that didn't always give a good user experience. The news feed has become very popular, and that's become their focus. Users can display most recent actions. Devs can user it to get engagement.

Canter riposted quickly: "The feed is the epitome of your locked in strategy."

Dave Recordon, the open platforms tech lead from Six Apart joined in the criticism: "Open platforms have been more successful, historically," he argued. Even if Facebook is currently the shiney place, if developers can write and application once and put it loads of places, Facebook will be marginalised.

MySpace has taken the opposite route, argued Max Engel, head of data availability initiative at MySpace. They're building using open standards because the "internet routes around roadblocks and we want to be part of the flow". MySpace users already thing of themselves as Myspace.com/profile, so we're in a great place to bring thsi forward. "We've now implemented everything on the open stack." The stack is a group of technologies which enable open social platforms. Canter gave us this slide of it:

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Niche Social Networks

The author of the other talk I was really sad to miss at Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin, Lee Bryant of Headshift, has now published his slides over on the firm’s blog.

Here they are:

Niche Social Networks FTW!

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: purpose meaning)

Although the presentation gives some good examples of niche social networks in use, I like Lee’s analysis of the value of Facebook against niches, which makes a nice riposte to last week’s BBC story:

I remain convinced that intimacy and common purpose are more in line
with the culture of the internet than mega-malls like Facebook, where
funders are more interested in achieving a ridiculous $15bn valuation
for the company than in changing peoples’ lives for the better.

And the rights tools can improve people’s working lives, just as much as they can their personal lives…

Ease Up On Facebook Blocks?

Facebook on the iPhone

So much for the idea that businesses should be using Facebook-like news feeds. Auntie Beeb thinks we should be using Facebook itself:

And while more work-specific systems, such as LinkedIn or bespoke in-house software tended to be used for work matters, the likes of Facebook, Bebo and MySpace still had a place, said Peter Bradwell, a Demos researcher and the report’s author.
“Banning Facebook and the like goes against the grain of how people want to interact. Often people are friends with colleagues through these networks and it is how some develop their relationships.”

Of course, as one would expect, this is a horribly shallow rendering of a much more complex report, which you can snag from the Demos site

UPDATE: Alan at Broadstuff highlights some of the problems with this argument.