Tag Archives: clay shirky

Say hello to social – or wave goodbye to your top talent

Freedom by Thorsten Becker
Does your boss ban Facebook? Is YouTube access blocked from your office? Do colleagues look nervous when you mention Twitter? If so, chances are your employer is a large corporate or public sector organisation with deeply-ingrained concerns about productivity and time-wasting. Many large companies (and the more traditional smaller enterprises) have a myriad of communications restrictions in place.

IT departments nearly always cite security and legal issues as justification for this draconian behaviour. A few years back I heard a talk by the head of social media at a leading US retail bank. He referred to legal, compliance, fraud and security as the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”. It’s difficult for ordinary employees to argue, he said, when confronted with effective corporate death as an alternative.

So what about startups – are they cool with social and other new technologies? Well, yes, they generally are. They’re digital natives, aren’t they? It’s hardly surprising that a recent survey by online recruitment platform Tyba found 68 per cent of people working in big companies said they’d move to a smaller startup if they had the chance…and bad IT was cited as a key reason by 27 per cent of respondents.
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10 questions

1. How relevant is Metcalfe’s Law to social networks?

2. If we apply modern neoevolutionary principles rather than C19th, deterministic ones, accidents and free will have an important part to play in social evolution. Does social media enable these and, if so, does social media therefore enable social evolution?

3. How instrumental is social media in creating less hierarchical organisations?

4. How are social tools changing our behaviour, if at all?

5. What is the long-term impact of the type of self-organisation identified by Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody? (We can blog on WordPress, customize our Myspace page, set up a community on Ning…)

6. Are we seeing a new type of hero emerge and, if so, what does that signify? Craig Newmark, Lauren Luke, Barack Obama and (our local hero in London) Lloyd Davis – all these people built businesses/ careers by building a community first.

7. As various factors (environmental, social, political) push for an end to the consumer age, does social media have a role to play in bringing other values to the fore (or does it simply accentuate consumerist values?!

8. How realistic is Jamais Cascio’s idea of the participatory panopticon – can we attempt to control surveillance through sousveillance? Does the Twitter/ Carter Ruck/ Trafigura episode prove we’ve turned a page, or simply that the censors will pay more attention to Twitter next time round?

9. What do we think of the UK Conservative Party’s attempts to embrace the social web? David Cameron has talked about storing NHS records on Google, his advisor Steve Hilton (partner of Google’s Rachel Whetstone) has coined the phrase post-bureaucratic age, former New Labour new media advisors like MySociety’s Tom Steinberg have swapped sides…?

10. We could argue that the many-to-many structure of social networks enables a ‘long tail’ of human opinion to be heard. But can any diverse, ‘bottom-upness’ be sustained, or will it be back to ‘business as usual’ once the Web 2.0 dust has settled? Can the durable Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) ever truly be inversed?