Too social?

The main part of the mechanismBrandon Hall Group Analyst David Wentworth just posted an interesting piece on the growing problems with enterprise social network initiatives.

You can read what David is thinking here.

We have always believed in social learning rather than in the idea that HR or learning and development departments would end up “owning” enterprise social networks.

To that end we make a point of including core talent-related social affordances in our out-of-the-box offerings (learning and performance interest groups, forums, news, email, chat, file sharing, etc.) and supplying robust API libraries, including widgets, Google gadgets, macros and plugins for working nicely with clients’ enterprise social network choices, whatever they turn out to be.

We think of it as the good neighbor policy.

A thousand points of light

My hometown newspaper, The South China Morning Post (SCMP), recently went live with a reader driven mashup site dedicated to reporting environmental damage. The SCMP calls the site Citizen Map. It looks like it’s gaining traction. The public responded with more than 20 tip-offs in the first few days.

Mashups are nothing new. Typical examples include real estate listing databases married to neighborhood maps and school district information, sites that track epidemic outbreaks around the world and geo-location restaurant guides.

But most mashups are meant to broadcast a single author’s voice, or at least a single group’s message. What the SCMP has done looks a little different. The paper has put together a number of services, some commercial, some open source, that let other people generate the content around a theme. Arguably, user generated content is nothing new either. Think Twitter or Facebook.  But Twitter and Facebook cater to everyone, or at least try to.

I would guess that the SCMP has no idea where this is going to go but the framework is clear: the SCMP has created a point solution (in contrast to an enterprise or utility solution) to aggregate community generated information on environmental damage. Individual postings might lead to follow-up investigations, government responses (one hopes), name and shame reporting or public debate.

The value of your personal networks

Networks of PeopleGreat quote today from Stephen Downes via his email alert and website Stephen’s Web:

“Your network gives you ideas, not answers, and people who follow only the gurus tend to be . . . followers.”

Love him or not (and I do love him — unapologetic straight shooter that he is), Stephen is worth listening to. He always has something to say.

In this post Stephen takes issue with Seth Godin’s latest bloggy channeling of (I think) Richard Florida, who is in turn promulgating somewhat academic theories around the idea of urban elitist perfectibility in real time and in real places whereas Godin thinks it’s at least partly an exercise that can be carried out individually and online.

Downes thinks Godin is drinking Kool-aid, several flavors in fact.

Whatever you think of the positions, the conversation is key and provides a much needed context for all of the talk in the performance support world about social media and learning.

No answers from me — just questions . . . like:

    Do we really need or want employer-mediated social networks at all? Do they really add enough value to justify the effort?

    If the answer to the questions above is yes, who owns the network — HR, IT, Corporate Communications, Sales? And why?

    Should we be trying to make employer-mediated social networks persistent or should we allow them to come to life and die off as needed and used?