Do technology companies such as Google have a social responsibility?

Read an interesting piece in yesterday’s New York Times.

Google has had this promise of many years: ‘Don’t do evil”.

But the playing field is changing.  Unfortunately the walled gardens are in business e.g. facebook.  This poses real challenges when you want to be able to search against everything of potential relevance but facebook won’t play ball.

Apple is another example of a wwalled garden.  Apple wants us to live in their garden, using their Apple storage and Apple devices.  Another problem for Google.

So can Google prosper and not do evil?

Interesting to see Reid Hoffman of Linkedin commenting.  Linkedin has built up a huge database and network based on data provided by site participants (for the most part not using the paid subscription version of product).  Does Hoffman/ Linkedin have a responsibility to these users?

In many respects the most interesting observation in the article is the reminder that in most cases the creators of new social sites (and other technologies) have very little idea as to what the eventual impact of their invention will be.

 

 

 

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Why do I use LinkedIn?

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

I have been asked recently to discuss with a range of business people my reasons for using LinkedIn – what I like (or don’t like) about LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is the preferred social network of business people.  It is an excellent platform for me, as an independent consultant,  to provide detail about my skills, experience and interests.  Simultaneously it offers me excellent background information on other people and companies – be they clients, potential clients, competitors.

I have taken an incremental approach to using LinkedIn.  I started with basic detail and over a period of time have expanded this to provide more information about my previous experience, current areas of interest.  I have built my network incrementally – seeking introductions to some people, responding selectively to requests to LinkIn.

I have used a range of functionality offered on the site, including:

  • tags to tag/ categorise my contacts e.g.
  • polls to research specific topics with my connections
  • Answers to find answers to particular technical areas
  • Participated in groups of internet e.g. semantic web, business networks such as Kilmacud Crokes Business Network
  • Search to obtain background information prior to meetings – at both individual and corporate levels
  • Jobs to post job offers
  • the WordPress application to cross post from this blog to my LinkedIn profile.

Finally I have cross referenced from various sites which I maintain to my LinkedIn profile.

 

 

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Another voice for semantics

The Cluetrain Manifesto
Image by Gauravonomics via Flickr

Just been reading the 10th Anniversary edition of The Cluetrain Manifesto.  In his Chapter ‘but how does it taste?’ Rick Levine focuses on the changes in Participation – through blogging, social networks and participation in ecommerce sites (customer reviews etc).  However he references the walls between his Linkedin, Facebook and Phone universes.  I like his demand: ‘We need to be more fanatical in our elimination of conversational friction’.

This very much speaks to the Cluetrain Manifesto – that the Internet is all about conversations.  And effectively Levine is making the point that semantics has a role to play in facilitating this.


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Pay to see full names for 3rd degree connections on Linkedin

Icon for the FOAF (Friend of a Friend) project...
Image via Wikipedia

So the pricing model has changed at Linkedin.  You may have noticed in searching that you are coming across people whose full name is hidden.  That’s the deal now – if you want to see these names you pay for the privilege.

Not that surprising really that a private network should look to make money from its database.  Must feel now that they have sufficient footprint (heading for 100m members) to up the anti.  Potentially why would they not go the whole hog and charge everyone?

All of this brings us back to the discussion around open standards, open networks, FOAF, semantics, etc.  And indeed David Siegel’s ‘The Power of Pull’ and his idea about the ‘persoanal information locker’.

Interesting to see how this plays out.  Will Linkedin changes results in slower growth in the network – but greater revenues to the company?  Or will this create the opportunity for another player to up their gorwth rate in the marketplace?

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Twitter – part 3

Completing a series of three articles re twitter – why, what how?

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3 – How does twitter fit in with web site, blogging, facebook, linkedin, other social networks?

I see my website as my anchor on the internet. My website says I am who I am, sets out my stall, explains how to contact me. I want my website to be found – by people looking for solutions which I can provide. Periodically I will update my website to describe additional solutions, new partnerships, new references/ endorsements.

My blog is where I provide my thoughts – hopefully my insights to emerging social, business, technical issues – as they occur to me and and I develop/ refine my thinking. I expect the blog to incorporate feedback from readers. Over a period of time my blog accumulates an amount of my thinking re the issues of the day.

So there does twitter fit in with all of this – and with the other networks in which I participate?

Twitter is the medium through which I develop interactive dialog with people of mutual interest (I am interested in their thoughts, they follow me – so presumably are interested in my thoughts). Through those contacts I am also looking to expand my network – attracting attention to my competencies and learning from other experts.

With this in mind I automatically notify twitter of any new blog postings. I post questions to twitter, I respond to queries from others on twitter. I use twitter to draw people’s attention to information which I think may be of interest to them.

Both linkedin and facebook are also important to my social and business networking. Initially I focused facebook on the social side and linkedin on the business side. Facebook now has a much broader role – and has an important business element to it. For now I have a range of contacts who may/may not use all of the solutions e.g. may be a member of facebook but not using twitter or linkedin, only use linkedin, etc.

All of these are being brought together. Many people are members of all of these (and many more) social networks. Initiatives such as SIOC are working to faciliate interoperability. Using tools such as Yoono with Firefox it has become very easy to update your presence/ status across mutiple environments. I cross post to facebook from twitter and using ‘company buzz’ on linkedin twitter references to me are published to linkedin.

So what’s twitter, at the end of the day? As one of my twitter friends (@rbconsulting) says, flippantly – ‘hard to belive it took them that long to get SMS working on the PC’. And that captures the essence of the microblogging limits. Twitter is that and more. Most importantly it’s a platform which makes it very easy to establish relationships with people all over the internet – for business, social, educational, recreational, whatever purpose. The value of the relationships flows from the level of interaction, quality of contributions, responsiveness.