Here I sit at my corporate headquarters (i.e., a coffee shop) and work away.
I sit. I key.
In fact, I realize there’s a bunch of other people, sitting - and keying. I realized they’re super-connected with other people, elsewhere. Occasionally I catch familiar screen-shots: Facebook. Twitter. TweetDeck. You know the picture.
Just what am I observing?
Years past, socializing sounded loud. Mouths flapped. Sounds came out. People laughed. Today’s social language often consists of “clickity-click-click”.
What does all this mean? Maybe something. Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.
I’m prompted to explore the root meaning of the word “social”.
Wikipedia provided some clues. For starters, it points out that social is a “fuzzy concept” i.e., “a concept in which the content, value, or boundaries of application can vary according to context or conditions, instead of being fixed once and for all”.
Interesting. Even intellectually challenging. If the word social is fuzzy and variable based on context or condition… well then, today it must be super-duper-fuzzy since the context of socializing has changed so dramatically in recent history.
I read further: “Social” relates to the attitudes, orientations, or behaviors that take the interests, intentions, or needs of other people into account. Basically, “social” is about the other and our relationship with each other. It is the basis of many things in our civilization:
He defined a social system as “a mode of organization of action elements relative to the persistence or ordered processes of change of the interactive patterns of a plurality of individual actors”.
Ouch. My brain hurts.
I read further.
Parsons argued that a social system is faced by two major problems. One is the (external) problem of the production and allocation of scarce resources; the other is the (internal) problem of achieving social order or integration. This notion gave rise to Parson's famous development of four sub-systems, which respond to the external and internal ‘functional prerequisites of a system of action’, namely adaptation (economy), goal-attainment (polity), integration (societal community), and latency (socialization). This was defined as the AGIL model of the social system. These subsystems are connected by flows of inputs and outputs, which Parsons called ‘media of exchange’ (Economy and Society, 1956). These are money (A), power (G), influence (I), and commitments (L). The equilibrium of a social system depends on these complex exchanges between the various subsystems.
GORDON MARSHALL. "systems theory." A Dictionary of Sociology. 1998. Encyclopedia.com. 22 Feb. 2010 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.
Super-ouch. My brain really hurts now.
So I ask myself, “What are the implications?”
Regardless, one can argue the following:
As you type, tweet or text “I just took a shower”… it might feel trivial, but by default, you’re part of a global network that is collectively and individually changing the world, as we know it - and how we might know it in the future.
February 23, 2010
Cat-Strat | MEDIA
I’m sipping coffee in a little coffee shop midst Cleveland’s Little Italy… pondering a colleague’s recent question: “Why has business taken so long to see the value of social networking?” I look around. The place is packed. Patrons are communicating feverishly – with people located somewhere else. Texting. Talking on mobile phones. Clicking on laptops.
Our technology tools have become an extension of our voice and ears, and Social Media has become part of our language.
Businesses want to connect with, persuade and sell to people just like you and me – right? Yet, so many companies fail to embrace the communication modes so many of us prefer.
1 – Fear (of losing power and control)
Consider the history of the U.S. Postal System.
In the 1700’s, the British controlled the colonial postal system. By 1774, the colonists viewed the royal post office with suspicion. Shortly thereafter, an alternative inter-colonial mail service was established.
What’s the point? The inter-colonial mail service was the “social media”, the colonists were the “bloggers”… and those in power (the British) didn’t like it.
2 – Social Media has a bad rep (for business)
Consider the origin of Social Media. It didn’t start with computers, but it was born on-line… the phone-line that is. It was known as “phone phreaking”. Phone phreaks were techies tired of the telecom monopoly extending sizable charges for long distance calls. These early explorers built phone-system tapping devices that allowed them to make free calls and conduct virtual group discussions.
More recent Social Media ancestors include Limewire and Napster - through which music was shared.
A number of corporations, telephone companies and record labels look back on this history often sighting a different word; Stolen.
3 – What’s in a name? Everything.
The very term “Social Media” conveys images of idle socializing, gossip and misinformation. If it were referred to as “Critical Business-Advancement Messaging Networks” businesses would consider it more popular than the buzzword of the day.
This is where NING and others have an upper hand. Though the name may mean different things to different people; the design of the solution resonates with business-types. Like Sun Microsystems said back in the 90’s “the network is the solution”. That’s what NING conveys - a solution providing user-controlled networks for specific applications and communities of interest. It implies context and purpose.
So why should you (and your company) leverage Social Media?
1 – The people you want to hire use it – a lot.
Today, in the 21st Century, smart businesses realize that value-creation depends on ideas, creativity and collaboration. Social Media is the mechanism of choice for many of today’s talented creative innovators. Your company culture should be friendly to Social Media (unless of course you don’t want smart innovators on your team).
Have you hired anyone lately without looking at their LinkedIn profile? Do you know that the top talent is likely evaluating your company’s Social Media presence - as a qualifier as to whether they want to work for you (or not)?
2 – The people you want to reach (your customers) use it. Listen to them.
Angie’s List conducted a survey and found that 58 percent of their respondents use Social Media. They consider it a strategic tool for business development.
Social Media is a powerful listening system. Sure, you can ask customers what they want, but they may or may not tell you what they need. However, overhear them talking with each other - well then, now you’re getting the straight skinny.
Imagine: What if Toyota’s unintended acceleration issue was realized sooner instead of later via Social Media? The New York Times on February 1, 2010 stated that Toyota’s slow recognition of the issue puts to question the company’s bedrock principle.
3 – Happy employees = happy customers = revenue + profit
A report called Executive Insights into Enterprise Social Network Strategy indicated that Social Media was critical to providing a work-life balance for employees. Employees don’t operate “9 to 5”. Rather, they mix their personal and work lives. Sure, there’s the risk that promoting Social Media could cause distraction during the “work day” - but it also promotes “work” in the “off hours”.
One of our clients learned this lesson in at least one case. They proudly proclaimed that securing one of their new clients was thanks to an employee trading Facebook messages with a “friend”. Upon closure of that deal, management didn’t care if the exchange happened during the day, at night… on-line… in-person… in a suit… or in sweats.
February 2, 2010
Cat-Strat | MEDIA
It's provocative to think that we may be living in an historic moment; not just technologically; but societally... on how we manage our lives, protect peace, operate daily, and inspire humans to lead productive meaningful lives.
One doesn't have to look far; Wikipedia (accurate or not) to build one’s prospective. Here are a few points on the "History of Democracy"
- Democracy is a political system in which all the members of the society have an equal share of formal political power. In modern representative democracy, this formal equality is embodied primarily in the right to vote. The history of democracy - the history of empowering people by giving them a say in their political entities - traces back from its origins in the ancient world to its re-emergence and rise from the 17th century to the present day.
- There is evidence to suggest that democratic forms of government, in a broad sense, may have existed in several areas of the world well before the turn of the 5th century
- Primitive democracy is identified in small communities or villages when the following take place: face-to-face discussion in the village council or a headman whose decisions are supported by village elders or other cooperative modes of government
What are the consistent themes through time?
- Members of society having a share of political power... and being represented
- The right to vote
- Having a "say"
- Rooted in face-to-face discussion & debate
So, if Democracy is about discussion, debate, having a say, and sharing in the "responsibility" to govern; then how can Social Media be anything but central to how we define Democracy in the future? ...It increases the ease with which citizens can have their say... It is unfiltered... It's real-time... and it's global.
Food for thought.
....Be part of the discussion on December 14th & 15th Gov 2.5
Craig James; November 24, 2009