Social Computing … Observations And Implications


I was watching this awesome video which Luis Suarez has made, posted over at his blog. There are some very imortant point that Luis is making over here, especially when he says that with social computing it is no longer you versus others, its you as part of a team, of a community.

What i liked probably the most was the idea that in an open platform as social computing can provide, it quickly becomes clear who is contributing how much, and what. The whole idea of free-riding is something which can be taken care of. Though, to my mind, that is a tad oversimplistic. Folks will find out ways to get around this. This also could have implications for the way people work … bringing in more transparency … and, to my mind, this is one of the very reasons this kind of a change would be resisted in a large number of organizations. Not just because change is usually resisted (which i believe is not, its just that the value proposition of the change is not usually communicated well enough …), but also because a lot of people are not comfortable saying out things in the open.

What is also interesting is that unlike with email, you can control what you read. Of course, this might mean you miss out on something. But, as Luis says, networks have a way of informing you. While this is valid logic, this rests on the assumption of adoption. And, this is where the chicken-and-egg situation i have written about earlier comes into the picture … the network cannot deliver value till there are plenty of people in it, and you wont have plenty of people in the network till it start delivering value.

There are two things i would add to the number of excellent points Luis has made …

Let us first ask, what is the most important asset for an organization (knowledge-based, i am assuming here …)! The most probable answer you would get to this question is … People! Yes, they sure are. But, if people are the most important asset, why is it that Knowledge Management systems are content-centric, and not people centric? After all, content is a proxy for people, isnt it?

Look at facebook, for instance … the focus of the entire network is the people … when you login, you see what your friends are doing … you are seeing content which is generated, for sure … but, content that is generated by people, or, in other words, content in the context of people, which brings people to the centre of the entire schema. Ditto for twitter, too … the first thing on a tweet is the picture, and the name of the person who has written it. Even your favourites are content, but they are about the people … the focus being on the people who are generating the content.

This has another benefit … Unlike documents, or static content, which goes obsolete over a period of time (by the time you post it, as Luis says), the people who write the content dont! People are more up-to-date than platforms are!

Another thing which comes up is, if you are emailing a document to ten different people, you are sending ten different copies, one to each one of them … you are in effect isolating one from another. Contrast this to the social computing paradigm, where you are bringing people together, by bringing them to a single copy of the document.

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2 Comments on “Social Computing … Observations And Implications”

  1. Tanveer Iqbal says:

    In a world in which < HREF="http://www.datacomnetworks.blogspot.com" REL="nofollow">computer networks<> are involved in nearly every facet of business and personal life, it is paramount that each of us understand the basic features, operations and limitations of different types of computer networks…

  2. Atul says:

    quite agree, Tanveer … what i think is that a human network can achieve so much more than a computer network … the computer network can be the facilitator. your thoughts?


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