Archive for social networks
by Patti Anklam
Having covered the 3 KMs (Big, Little, and Personal), it seems natural to move along to the net work aspect of these. (Net work is my term for bringing intentionality into the way that we behave in our networks and acknowledging that it is, indeed, work.)
I need to start with personal net work, because I alluded to it in my last post, and because I will be talking about it this Thursday at the Boston KM Forum. I’ll start with some assertions:
- In the current “generation” of knowledge management, we look for knowledge in the network (as opposed to in documents and archives (1st generation) and in collaboration with others (2nd generation). Knowledge is literally in the network.
- As we learn and work (and vice versa), we need to know how to tap into that knowledge, and into the context in which it is expressed, when we need it, as soon as we need it.
- Our access to the context of knowledge in the network is through our personal connections, of which we must be mindful. We are, in a sense, our networks.
- The science of social networks has been advancing steadily since 1999/2000, providing us with ways to talk about the purpose, structure, style, and value-producing characteristics of networks.
- The tools we use daily (blogging, tweeting, generating and consuming content in multiple ways and multiple places) have co-evolved with the knowledge of the science of networks.
- We now have much more richly complex ways of understanding and managing our personal networks, to the benefit of our learning and knowledge sharing strategies.
1. Knowledge is in the network. I’ve previously blogged on this topic, referencing my first formulation of the 3 generations of KM in 2005. How little I knew at that time of Web 2.0 and its impact. We what want to know, what we need to know, what we may be delighted to know, is all out there, discoverable and available.
2. Tapping into the knowledge. It started with Internet search engines (anybody remember AltaVista?) and has progressed to include the ability to filter, through tagging systems, RSS feeds, and (when available) ranking and voting systems. It’s out there, really. Artifacts will always be with us, and now we are drowning in them.
3. We are our networks (our social networks, that is). If there were any doubts before about the impact of those around us on our behaviors, you need look no further than the amazing work Connected, by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler (a long excerpt appeared in the September 10 New York Times, “Are Your Friends Making You Fat?” ).
In our personal professional networks, we are also tied to the behaviors and sources of knowledge of those we interact with, where interactions include subscribing to and commenting on others’ blogs, sharing information on social network sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, responding to other’s comments on our own blogs or edits we have made to wikis, following and retweeting people on Twitter and browsing their tags on Del.icio.us. And most important: turning (when we can) our attention to their links, to topics they find interesting, people they enjoy reading or following, and gaining access to their network of networks.
These interactions — even if ambient — provide us the context. I know my colleagues’ areas of expertise, their hot buttons, their styles. If one of them is excited about something, I have context for looking at it and making sense of what it might mean to me. When a number of people tweet the same news or retweet the same bon mot, I know that my community is bonding around a shared meme. These may be small things, but I am the sum of all that my networks bring to me, of all the people in my networks. I am my network.
4. The science of networks. When I talk about the science of networks, I am talking about the research and discoveries in the multi-disciplinary field of social networks over that past half century or more. At the heart of this work is that you can actually draw maps of networks (“social graphs”) that will show you patterns of connectivity, interactivity, separation, similarities, and dissonances. We also have, through research by Rob Cross and colleagues at the Network Roundtable, a theory-based understanding of the characteristics of a good personal network as well as evidence that
- individuals with stronger personal networks
- managers who maintain awareness of the organizational networks
are more successful.
5. Our tools are co-evolving. I recently published a journal article, Ten Years of Net Work ($$) that provides my personal experience in how social tools have evolved over the past ten years. I live on the opposite coast from Silicon Valley, but my imagination conjures scenes of network scientists and software entrepreneurs talking about how to leverage this cool network stuff and coming up with LinkedIn, Facebook, and all the other tools we now take for granted. It is still the case that most of these platforms require us to create distinct “networks” and that these all overlap to a greater or lesser extent. It will still be a while before we can move freely among our networks, as ourselves, changing our frame of reference, but staying ourselves.
6. Managing our personal networks. This is the big, “So What?” If we say we are our networks, then how do we assert ourselves in our own definition? And what does it matter whether or not we do? It matters, and we can do something about it:
- Avoid the pitfalls of hanging out in too many networks where everyone thinks alike (I blogged on this in August). Think about the diversity of your network.
- Think about your network as a personal learning network. What engages you now, what knowledge will you need to take the next step (in your career, in finishing a work project, in solving a problem for your client, to research a topic for a conference presentation)? Do you have people in your network who have the expertise you seek?
- Follow people whose work you admire. Look for opportunities to retweet, comment, or interact. These interactions should be both authentic and of value to the person you want to connect with. Then look for opportunities to connect face to face at conferences, to collaborate, or to contribute to their work.
Lately, I’ve taken to hang out with hashtags. If someone tweets a conference tag, I follow the tag and usually find some of my friends, but new people as well. It also works to search on topic and and see it there is a hashtag. Follow the stream and find new people. Participate, ask questions, retweet.
Managing — being mindful — okay, let’s call it personal network mindfulness — your network also implies maintaining the existing relationships that are important to you. As we used to sing when I was in the Brownie Scouts, “Make new friends/but keep the old/One is silver/and the other gold.”
by Patti Anklam
There has been something lately that the more channels we have for information flow (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.) the more we might really be isolating ourselves within a social network of people who are using the same tools that we use, reading the same blogs, and following the same Tweeters all the while we think that the volume of information equates to diversity of information.
Two articles crept to my attention in the first week of August:
The first article suggests that we are losing the ability to learn new things serendipitously as our social networks tend to grow along the lines of people who are like us and we rely on these networks for links to new ideas. (I am reminded of a conversation on Chris Matthew’s program weekend August 22-23 about reading newspapers. The thing about reading a newspaper is that you never know what you might find when you turn the page.)
The second article newsbit points to a Science Magazine article by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger of the Kennedy School, “Can We Reinvent the Internet?” Mayer-Schönberger addresses the issue primarily from the viewpoint of the open software movement that is currently driving changes to the Internet. He posits that this community is so connected that fresh ideas are assimilated so quickly they do not have time to develop. Cavalcanti quotes the article:
“An overabundance of connections over which information can travel too cheaply can reduce diversity, foster groupthink, and keep radical ideas from taking hold.”
I’ve long been talking about the importance of diversity in networks in my workshops and training, in both contexts of organizational networks and personal networks.
The most compelling research examples in the importance of diversity in networks comes from Ronald Burt, whose books Structural Holes and Brokerage and Closure look at the structure of networks and the positions of individuals in the network. A structural hole represents a person or group who enjoys a singular position between two or more other groups. This person can have competitive advantage by being able to broker information between the two groups. (For a nice explanation of these concepts, see “Where to Get a Good Idea: Steal it Outside Your Group”, NYT article by Michael Erard.)
The point is very simple when you think about it (and this is how I explain it, as simply as possible). If you have a “closed” network, where everyone pretty much knows or knows about each other. A good aspect of this connectivity is that the network can serve as a filter — multiple tweets or retweets about a topic link usually means it’s worth following — and its possible to generate a common language. However, it’s not likely that the richest source of creativity — two unlikely ideas coming together — will occur. You need (or the organization needs) to have connections outside the group. As Burt puts it (using one of my favorite phrases ever, the title of this blog), “People who live in the intersection of social worlds ‘are at higher risk of having good ideas.”
You may not need to steal the ideas, but to take a close look at your networks. Your professional networks may be more closed than you would like, but it’s possible that your many social networks — clubs, hobbies, sports — may put you at risk of meeting people from other fields, with other types of knowledge.
This is equally true and important in organizational networks. The structural holes need to think like brokers and move information around selflessly and intentionally. There need to be weavers (or more appropriately, “mixers”) who provide opportunities for groups to meet and hear what each other is thinking or doing. And there needs to be a good outside listener who can find speakers and experts from outside the domain of the organization’s knowledge, bring them in, and let people find connections and generate new ideas as they will.
by Matthew Hodgson
It’s been a great journey. The more I look into social media and report on its current use the more it seems that others, from corporates to government agencies, are starting to ‘get’ social media.
For those of you still lagging behind, here are some stats that might get you motivated to join in the conversation (… that means both listening and talking):
- 2/3 of the global internet population use social media 
- 3 in 4 Americans use social media 
- 4 in 5 Australians use social media at least monthly 
- People now visit social media websites more than they use personal email 
- Time spent on social media websites is growing 3x the speed of internet adoption 
What are they doing? In Australia, the statistics indicate:
- 39% – news feeds
- 29% – instant messaging
- 26% – social networking
- 22% – blogs
Hitwise reports that of all websites visited by Australians:
- 4.03% visit Facebook
- 1.44% visit YouTube
- 1.12% visit MySpace
- 0.81% visit Wikipedia
These are interesting numbers from a government information and communication perspective because of the 2,094 websites that Hitwise monitors the combined traffic only equates to 1.3% of which the Bureau of Meteorology attracts 0.36%. It suggests that people would rather go to YouTube and be one of the 100 million people who watch some of the 13 hours of video uploaded every minute. If you were to watch all the content on YouTube though make sure you’ve got lots of popcorn because it would take you about 412 years.
So what about other social media webistes? Some suggest that people arn’t engaged or maybe its only a small proportion, yet the statistics speak for themselves:
- 13 million articles in Wikipedia
- 3.6 billion photos on Flickr in June 2009 — roughly 1 photo for every 2 people on the planet (world population is est 6.7 billion by United States Census Bureau to be 6.7 billion)
- Twitter grew by 1382% from January to February 2009
- 3 million Tweets on Twitter per day
- 5 billion minutes spent on Facebook every day
- 1 billion pieces of content, from links and news to photos and blog posts, shared on Facebook each week
- If Facebook was a country it would be the 8th most populated in the world ahead of Japan which is 127.7 million according to the Japan Statistics Bureau
If you’re not part of this conversation, this collaboration, this community, then your stakeholders and your clients are obviously talking to other people.
- – - -
1. Nielsen, Global Faces & Networked Places, 2009
2. Forrester, The Growth of Social Technology Adoption, 2008
3. Internet World Stats, 2008. Internet Usage Stats and Telecommunications Market Report
by Jim Ware
Please join me and my partner in crime Charlie Grantham, along with Eric Bensley of Citrix Online, and James Hilliard of BNet next Wednesday, June 24, for a free one-hour webinar called “Keeping Your Team Connected in a Distributed Workplace.”
The webinar is sponsored by Citrix Online We’re very grateful for their continuing support of our research and ideas.
Again, the webinar will be on June 24, at 11 AM Pacific/2 PM Eastern. Register here.
We hope you’ll join us. We’re going to be talking mostly about the leadership and interpersonal principles for keeping members of a distributed team connected with each other, their tasks, and the company.
by Celine Roque
It’s well known that many employees have taken their social networking addiction to their offices. While loss in productivity is the biggest concern resulting from this trend, IT departments are quickly realizing that security is also an important issue.
Sophos conducted an online poll among system administrators last February, with 709 respondents from various companies. Asked whether they thought that employees’ activity on social networking sites endanger corporate security, two-thirds (66%) of them agreed this is a serious threat. With good reason, as popular sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter seem to be the new favorite target for hackers. A third of the respondents said they have been spammed on social networking sites, while 21% have been the victim of targeted phishing or malware attacks.
Basically, it’s the same tricks, different media. According to the report, “A typical method of attack is for hackers to compromise accounts by stealing usernames and passwords – often using phishing or spyware – and then, use this profile to send spam or malicious links to the victims’ online friends and colleagues.”
Despite the dangers, Sophos doesn’t believe in imposing total lock downs (that is, banning all access). They argue that whatever barriers you install, employees will find a way to open up holes, in turn compromising security all the more. Instead, Sophos is recommending the following strategies:
- Educate your workforce about online risks – make sure all employees are aware of the impact that their actions could have on the corporate network
- Consider filtering access to certain social networking sites at specific times – this can be easily set by user groups or time periods for example
- Check the information that your organisation and staff share online – if sensitive business data is being shared, evaluate the situation and act as appropriate
- Review your Web 2.0 security settings regularly – users should only be sharing work-related information with trusted parties
- Ensure that you have a solution in place that can proactively scan all websites for malware, spam and phishing content
It’s interesting to note that in the survey, 7% of system administrators who limit access to social networking sites admitted to doing so without knowing why. Just following orders? Then that’s a glaring communications breakdown. How will employees understand and cooperate with policies when even the enforcers aren’t sure why they’re doing what they’re doing?
The full report can be accessed here.
by Shiv Singh
At the Razorfish 9th Annual Client Summit, I presented five big ideas for social influence marketing. These were ideas that I felt would matter in the next two years. The audience for the presentation was 600 senior marketers but the ideas I emphasized have relevance to all decision makers within an organization. Here’s the presentation with the five ideas. Let me know what you think.
by Celine Roque
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The social networking landscape is evolving fast. Myspace used to be “IT” a few years ago, but now Facebook is taking over, and don’t forget LinkedIn if you’re out to do professional networking. Then there’s the surging popularity of Twitter (and God knows what’s next). It can be difficult to choose just one of them as your home on the web. Often, you sign up where your friends already are, and usually they’re scattered among these sites. If you sign up for everything, it can be tough to keep up.
Nutshellmail is a web tool that attempts to put some sanity back into your life. Instead of logging on to these sites one by one to check if there’s anything new, or sifting through a ton of email notifications on your inbox, Nutshellmail gathers all the updates for you. Friend requests, status updates, tweets, and more are summarized, then sent in one neat little email. No more cluttered inbox. This alone can save you a lot of precious time.
The great thing about it is that these summaries are interactive. For example, you can retweet, update your status, and reply to comments all without leaving your email client. You can also customize when you want to receive these updates by choosing particular days and hours. I’ve scheduled mine to be sent twice daily, once in the morning and another in the late afternoon.
If you have multiple email accounts, you can configure Nutshellmail to include new message summaries for these secondary emails. This way, your primary email serves as your central console, from which you have a bird’s eye view of all messages coming in. Only the subject lines and senders will be included in the Nutshellmail update. However, clicking on a “Get” link will provide the means to push an email of interest to your primary account. Within seconds, you can read it and take appropriate action from there.
You can open an account on Nutshellmail for free, and the whole process couldn’t be simpler. After using it for a little while, I’m sure it’s going to be part of my routine from now on (until something better comes along). It’s an excellent idea. The only thing that I wish was different is the number of compatible social networks. Right now, it only supports the Big Four (Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Twitter), but there are many other notable players with their own strong regional user base. Let’s hope Nutshellmail expands their menu soon.