Pinterest demonstrates that social media continue to evolve

Pinterest meets a user requirement not served by Facebook or Twitter

Just starting using Pinterest.

My initial forays remind me a little of when I started with twitter – why am I doing this?  But Pinteret looks like it is gathering traction fast.  Interesting to see that there continues to be room in the web2.0 world for new applications, new platforms.  Twitter, Facebook, FourQquare do not service this market.  They may integrate but the founders of Pinterest have found a new angle, a platform allowing users to interact in a different way.

Karlin Lillington’s review in the Irish Times provides an interesting perspective on the emergence of Pinterest.

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Manage or be managed

Important to think through how you want to use these solutions and resources – distraction is not in itself a bad thing. You need to manage the distractions.

instant messaging sites
Image by Will Lion via Flickr

Read Alex Pang’s piece on contemplative computing – courtesy of this article from ReadWriteWeb.  Fits in with much of the discussion taking place across lots of enterprises – is IM, social networking, blogging contributing very much to the business?  Surely IM (now often including video) is just another distraction to people who should be getting on with ‘the task at hand’.

As an individual consultant and researcher I am constantly required to manage the distractions – notwithstanding that were there no distractions there would be no interaction and no work.  The debate reminds me of something about 10 years ago – we should not let the team have internet access because they will waster their time surfing.  We seem to have moved on from this because, thankfully, in many cases the web has become a way fo doing work, communicating, researching, whatever.

I don’t think the answer has changed.  You have to work out what you are trying to do and figure out how to use the available resources.  If you expect to gain from online interaction then you need to recognise that it is a two way street – you will need to be active (or at least be responsive) in order to gain.  When you need to work in a quiet, non distracted mode, you need to make yourself unavailable.

Business has changed.  It’s not just the desk based personnel who are being bombarded by distractions.  Smartphones mean that anyone can be online at any time.  Education in the workplace has not caught up – people need training, awareness and guidance on tools which they can use to assist them in managing the online world rather than being managed by the online world.

 

 

 

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Web 2.0 not all positive

Web 2.0 is not all about positive developments. Jaron Lanier’s excellent book ‘You are not a gadget’ should be recommended reading for all of us promoting Web 2.0

Photo of Jaron Lanier performing at the Garden...
Image via Wikipedia

Close to finishing Jaron Lanier‘s excellent book: ‘You are not a  gadget’.  For someone like me who promotes social networking and web 2.0 Lanier certainly asks some tough questions.  I will comment in more detail in a later post – but I have to say his criticism of our obsession with the wisdom of crowds and of Wikipedia make a great deal of sense.  When I studied English in High School the cheat guides to the classical texts e.g. Hamlet, Persuasion, etc were Coles’ Notes.  They provided you with bullet proof analysis/ critiques for the texts – but obviated the need for original thinking/ imagination/ creativity.  Likewise Lanier argues that crowds will never produce original thinking on a par with an Einstein.

Today read an interesting piece in the New York Times on Hasbro‘s plans to dumb down a number of their games e.g. Monopoly.  They are making an effort to make the games more attractive through inclusion of some unnecessary technology – dressed up as a way to prevent cheating!  Seems to me cheating was always part of the fun in these board games.  More interestingly they also comment on the fact that younger people’s attention spans are continuing to shrink.  Without doubt this is a serious challenge for all educators.  And Web 2.0 has contributed significantly to the problem.

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Social networking in the enterprise – part 2

Social networking poses plenty of challenges also – we need to focus on why, what we are looking to achieve, how to manage the risks/ downsides.

As we seek to deploy social networking tools in the enterprise plenty of questions arise re potential waste of time and resources.  We set out with a number of positive objectives e.g. improve communication, improve ability to find people and information, support collaboration and team work.  But we also have a key question to address re potential downsides:

Does a facebook or twitter type application become a distraction – another source of interruptions in the day while trying to complete tasks; another temptation to move away from the task at hand?

We talk a great deal about the ability of people to multitask – but what does this really mean?  In many activities the ability to concentrate, focus on the job at hand, is paramount.  Constant interruptions/ distractions are more likely a hindrance than an aid.

In many ways we already have too many distractions at work – phones, mobiles, email, people, memos, noise, etc.  Social networking and ‘presence’ type applications generate additional potential distractions.

So what’s the way forward?  I think time management is back at the centre of the issue.  You have an amount of time to perform your role – within your role you have a range of responsibilities (and these have their own priorities).  Within the context of all of this you have a number of tools and resources (including people, templates, gadgets, software, social networks).  The real challenge is to figure out how to use these to the best possible advantage.  And I don’t think many of us are mastering this.  For instance when I use an application such as Rescue Time it gives me anindication of the amount of time I spend on social networking sites.  As someone trying to understand these environments and figure out how to harness them for productive use I allow myself generous amounts of time – but inevitably I am distracted and exceed my targets.

Interesting this week to read a piece in the Irish Times dealing with the concerns of parents and teachers about the impact of social networking on school children.  There was a time when parents worried about kids who were playing too much competitive sport close to exams to kids who had too active (traditional) social lives.  Now there are very real concerns about the amount of time spend on social networks – where there are unlimited distractions for any participant.

There are plenty of lessons in all of this for those of us rolling out these types of applications across  enterprises.  We need to remember what we are looking to achieve, we need to measure whether we are achieving this and we need to monitor the risks associated with these initiatives e.g. loss to productive time, unexpected bahavioural changes.  Notwithstanding all of this we need to figure out how to realise the potential benefits.

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rethinking corporate education

Need to look at collaborative education across enterprises

Have been reading Macrowikinomics, Rebooting Business and the World – by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams.  They include an excellent chapter: Rethinking the University: collaborative learning.  I also recently watched Ken Robinson’s excellent animation: RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms.

Both the chapter and the book have left me thinking about how we deliver education/ training in the corporate or enterprise environment.  Tapscott & Williams and Robinson are arguing for new approaches in education.  These changes are being seen, to different degrees, in different educational institutes.

Web 2.0 and social networking platforms have presented wonderful opportunities for business’s to engage in collaborative processes – within their own organisations and, perhaps more importantly, with people and entities outside the enterprise.  However is would seem to me that enterprises should now be looking to change their own approaches to education – to increase the collaborative content of corporate education.  This would apply both in the case of internally delivered education/ training and training delivered by professional institutes of education.

Do you know of good examples of collaborative education being employed in industry?

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social media in hospitals

In his post earlier this week Jim McGee gives an insight into the use of social media/ social networking by the Mayo Clinic in the US.  Not surpisingly for a distinguished and go ahead operation they make widespread use of blogs, podcasting, twitter, facebook, etc.  Would be interested to understand what plans the hospitals (state and private) have to use social media here.  What is the attitude of hospital management/ admin, medics, other providers of services and patients?  Without doubt the current and emerging technologies provide opportunities for hospitals and medics to interact in deeper and broader ways with their patients and potenial future patients.