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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2011 reflections on IT

Another year has whizzed bye.  Maybe it’s something to do with running your own consulting business, having a very active family and having a curious mind.

So what sticks in my mind in terms of technology – looking back on 2011?

What have I really liked?

I have been very happy with my Android phone – Samsung II.  Great phone, easy to use, great camera, easy integration with lots of social networks etc.  Would be lost without a smartphone.

Have found myself leaning much more towards Twitter than Facebook.  Have really found Twitter useful in terms of work related research, staying in contact with other professionals, developing my own profile.  Notwithstanding this Facebook is a daily platform for me – and has lured me into chess.com.  Typically have one or two chess games on the go (48 hours to move).

I have stuck with FourSquare.  Most of my acquaintances run a mile from FourSquare – why would you want to share your location?  I think this type of location based software has a long way to run.

Have enjoyed listening in to TWIT.TV (Leo Laporte’s This Week in Technology).  I tend to download the podcast and listen to it on one of my walks.  He has had some great guests during the year and some great debates – even last week with regard to restrictions on software copying.

Leo Laporte has got me to sign up to tow of his sponsors: www.Audible.Co.UK and Carbonite.  Audible I sue to download books which I listen to when walking, taking public transport, even at home rather than reading the physical book (nice break for the eyes).  I am using Carbonite to back up my data.

I have implemented encryption using TrueCrypt – seems to work very well.  And seems to be gaining in popularity wherever I go.

And EverNote – what a great application.  Increasingly I find myself using Evernote to capture meeting notes.  And it’s available on my Android phone when I need to access a note.

Finally – Google+.  I definitely like it.  And it looks like it has traction.  But then Google has some influence!  And I should say I have had a great year with Google Apps – has not let me down.  The world needs Google and Microsoft competing – at least you can now shop and compare between the two cloud offerings.

What have been my other observations?

Lots of disillusioned IT teams in corporate world.  Lots of them working with reduced budgets, smaller teams but many of the same challenges.  Many of their users have lots more technology available to them at home or on their phones – real challenges in providing stimulating corporate IT environments to end users.

Understanding the economics of the cloud is challenging.  If I have 100 Offce/ Exchange users does it make sense to sign up to Office 365 (or Google Apps)? Do the price points make sense?  Green field site v. established business.  Many people unconvinced about the economics.  Many people committed to cloud approach.  Debate is vigorous.

Regardless, operating from Ireland, with its current economic challenges, web based technologies are being embraced and lots of entrepreneurs emerging with ideas which exploit these technologies.

 

 

 

 

How much impact is Google+ having on Facebook?

I have been blogging recently, again, on the question of the misuse of the word ‘friends’ in the social networking world.  The use of the word ‘contacts’ by Linkedin may be a better use of the English language than ‘friends’ by Facebook.

Interesting developments recently from Facebook – it would seem that privacy and the meaning of ‘friendship’ are beginning to be of concern to Facebook.

The latest is the introduction of the ‘Subscribe’ button.  This looks like the introduction of Twitter type ‘follow’ functionality – in  Facebook context.  Will be interesting to see how the Facebook community takes to this option.  Looks like we will all get to choose the level of updates we will be bombarded with my our ‘friends’.

One can only wonder whether it has been the emergence of Google+ which has finally brought some real changes in Facebook and how its user community are treated.  (Perhaps no different to Ryanair beginning to be a little bit more passenger conscious as it seeks to compete for business passengers?)

No sign of a slow down in use of social networks

I come across anecdotal evidence of people becoming bored with social networks – suggesting they may shut down their Facebook account, don’t see the point of twitter, etc.  Latest report from Nielsen on the US market firmly gives the lie to this.

The reality appears to be that people are spending more of their online time in social networks.  And that’s not really very surprising – particularly if they are managing their participation in a way which provides them with value e.g. using Twitter to follow particular interests, using Facebook or Google+ to interact with specific groups of people.

I posted the other day on the subject of ‘Friends or Not‘. Social networks are not without their negatives e.g. irrelevant data, self  censorship, etc.  But the plain reality is that they do offer all sorts of ways to present information in context.

Would be interesting to see similar analysis for the local marketplace in Ireland.  I suspect it is not very different.  I think the other day I heard back from a younger family member ‘No I did not get your email, I use facebook’.  Things continue to move on in social networking and instant messaging.

Friends or not?

Social networks may be detracting from rather than contributing to friendships

Jay Baer just beat me to it.  In his case this article seems to have been inspired by the tragedy of a suicide of an online friend.

I’ve blogged on this topic before – the misuse of the word ‘friend’ by social networks such as facebook.

Friendship takes time and lots more.  They develop out of all sorts of situations but they take time.  The trust in a friendship is not built online.  It requires real socialisation – being with people in different situations.  Some friendships last through rows, disappointments, whatever; other friendships dissolve.  And then retrospectively we questions whether it was in fact a friendship.

Baer touches on another interesting point – the self censorship that we exercise in online communities – because the ‘friends’ are not all friends.  And a downside of this is that the communication does not server to promote/ reinforce friendships as a result.

Initially many of used Facebook got friends and blogging, LinkedIn and even twitter for business.  That has since changed radically – a network of 700m+ people (Facebook) is too big to be ignored for potential business advantage.

Baer says that he is going to make a real effort – even at the cost of less online contributions.  I think he is right.

 

 

 

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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Some current likes on Web 2.0

Easy to use, useful, personal web 2.0 services

Just joined http://www.locql.com/ – combining Questions and Answers with location.  Looks good – easy to use, noce design, sully integrated with facebook.

Quora – excellent questions and answers site.

http://getglue.com – beginning to grow on me.  Add your likes/ dislikes and reviews – works for books, movies, actors, topics, etc.

 

 

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Why do I use LinkedIn?

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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social working/ social networking within the enterprise – part 1

Introducing social networking within the enterprise

A segment of a social network
Image via Wikipedia

Have been thinking for some time about the best ways to establish effective social networking within the enterprise.  I like the phrase I see used some places – social working.

My starting point is that  most companies that are in any way successful are already reasonably proficient at social working ie working in teams, brainstorming, sharing ideas, collaborating.  So this is not about introducing a new concept – it’s about looking to see whether we can use some of the technologies to assist in more effective collaboration, team work, etc.

Seems to me one of the challenges in commencing an initiative through a pilot is that to some extent the value of the solution is dependent on widespread penetration and adoption.  However it is also important to see which suite of products work most effectively, determine potential benefits of any preconfiguration or integration, determine any training requirements.

I am curious to see the potential benefits of a facebook or twitter type application within the enterprise.  And to understand the limitations of an enterprise walled-in solution as against a web wide solution such as twitter.  But the idea of some form of continuous stream such as a twitter type app seems attractive as a way to provide somewhere for sharing all sorts of information – notwithstanding the inevitable ‘noise’ arising from general posts.

Another challenge to many organisations is the varying level of comfort across people in using such applications.  As the social network becomes the primary communication channel there are risks associated with potentially losing some of the non participants.  Alternatively some of the potential gains are lost if we are obliged to duplicate things outside the social networking platform.

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Are we becoming more or less sociable because of social networks and the web?

Are we more or less sociable because of developments in mobile communciations, the web, social networks?

Mobile phone use as a percentage of population...
Image via Wikipedia

I grew up in an era when the television was one of the key focuses. We gathered to watch matches, major events, news programs, various popular TV shows (e.g. Italy losing 4-1 to Brazil in 1970, The First Man Landing on the Moon, Hawaii-5-0 (“Book ‘im Dano”), Dallas: who shot JR?, Stephen Roche winning the Tour de France 1987, etc). I also started my work career without mobile phones – when you met someone there far less distractions. And when you met someone socially they did not have a mobile phone.

This has all changed. In the home people are watching program reruns on their laptops. When they watch television they may also be on facebook, twitter, whatever. When we meet people more and more of them they take phone calls and monitor email/ social networks. When we meet at work people are carrying a mobile and are generally online – again monitoring inbound communications or streams of information e.g twitter, yammer, etc.

Is this anti social or pro social?

Are people being more sociable because they are open to more inbound communications for more time e.g. watching the news on television but responding to facebook posting at the same time? Are they more sociable because they are not limiting themselves to the people in their physical presence? Or are people being less sociable – because they are not focusing exclusively on the people in their immediate physical presence?

People are still limited by their ability to process information e.g. Participating in the actual conversation taking place, analysing and responding to other electronic communications, picking up and responding to the emotional reactions, managing their own emotions, committing some content to memory, etc. So, given these constraints, if there are five ongoing interactions in parallel they cannot all be getting full attention.

I do not see much point in saying that what’s happening is wrong. I do not see the technology slowing down. It becomes more pervasive by the day and more accessible. Full broadband coverage and smart phones as the norm – puts everyone online all the time. Web TV is happening – watch what you want, when you want, interact with whomsoever you like in parallel.

The traditional social skills – interacting with people in a room, by the side of a football pitch, coming out of church – are important. They are part of being human, being a member of a particular society, being able to interact, being able to build real relationships. But increasingly virtual meetings and interactions are taking place in parallel with these physical social interactions – and they may be work or personal or both.

I think the challenge is to promote an awareness and understanding of what is taking place. Younger people who have only known the always online existence may miss out on a quality of interaction which was taken for granted in previous generations. Being positive about developments must also say to older generations that there is an opportunity for far wider, less physically constrained, social relations through adopting the new technologies and social norms.

Without doubt there are and there will be many victims of what is now taking place – an environment racing ahead, less time to focus on the individual, more difficult than ever to catch up. In terms of providing support we need to relook at how we identify victims and how we can bring them back into this changing social world.

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