Liveblogging Enterprise 2.0 – Stowe Boyd, Social = Me First

Social = Me First

Stowe Boyd, Editor/Writer – /Message

The core concept of “Social = Me First” is that everything truly social is at heart about the individual.

There are lots of new applications which have taken over the old groupware notion of “groups.” But rather than having to belong to specific groups (see his recent blog post on facebook and geographic networks, in which you can only belong to one region) the group should be virtual projection based on what I am interested in and what I do.

Me first:

  • My Passions
  • My people
  • My markets

The edge dissolves the center

It’s what he calls bottom up belonging.

My collection of friends (my buddy list) itself defines what I belong to.

Me, Mine, Market – the process starts with me, and what I am interested in – that defines a market.

The buddylist is the center of the universe

I am made greater by the sum of my connections, and so are my connections

What kinds of social tools are you all building (asking the audience)?

Audience: we’re trying to figure out what social tools to add to an existing tool

Audience: Project structure – team members, accumulated personal to it’s lifecycle.

What about the relationships that endure across projects. Example: 16 different logins for basecamp but no centralization across projects. I can’t see all my work across projects. (Jason Fried told him he was a boundary case).

The big question is what endures – independent of the specific project.

Q: Any of you using consumer products in the enterprise?

Answer: Facebook. Unsuccessfully. People couldn’t deal with the personal/business line – people got scared and started to go clean up their facebook profiles afraid of what their bosses will see.

Answer: Another big issue is that everyone wants to use these applications to find experts, but no one wants to be found for their expertise (because that would mean work).

Answer: At least one German company had an internal profile / expertise portal shutdown by the labor union

There’s also potential value in the neighborhood concept (as in – uncovering people who like the same stuff as you – discovering connections implicit in a social network rather than starting from who you know and the explicit social network.

The same bottom line occurs – we’re helping people to buld the same rich buddy lists.

This is a world of discovery.

Discovery of:

  • Things (but this is a red herring)
  • Places (the third space)
  • People (who fill those places)
  • Themselves (at the still point of the turning world)

They may not know it – they don’t need to know it – but if you are going to build tools to help fill the social need, you must be aware of it.

We are people through our relationship with other people – we need places in which to interact with those other people – we often use those spaces to talk about stuff.

[This helps explain, or solidify, a problem I’ve had with lots of social tools – social tools which don’t have a place for the me page. If there isn’t a persistent profile page that tracks my activity – and preferably one I can pull into my blog – then it can’t really ever be social.]

Audience question: What about places where work isnt fun and hierarchy is the norm? There will be huge barriers to leveraging social netowrking.

Absolutely – people want personal reward and growth. Adoption of the principles inherent in the fabric of social networking is revolutionary with respect to command-and-control approaches to organizing work.

Another way of saying this is that if the workplace has no place for me – if individual self-expression and fulfillment are not important, social networking will fail – but so will everything else that is bottom up.

Enterprises are generally not enlightened enough to recognize that what workers are doing is actually a voyage of self-discovery – but it is ultimately a necessity for those of you truly trying to build social applications.

Q from Audience: In the IBM presentation earlier today they talked about Enterprise software as though that had to come from a large incumbent like IBM. What’s your guidance to firms?

Look to the edge – there’s no reason why the core enterprise needs to be served by large scale centralized IT. As there is more decentralization of work there can also be more decentralization of IT.

We’re going to go through the same thing we went through with IM – it will be banned at first but ultimately the users will win.