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Tech for Tomorrow

Doug Mow

Feeling Anti-Social?

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It seems like we might be hitting the wall with social. A couple days ago I read the following comment by Robert Bacal posted to a Forrester blog by Augie Ray.

"Social media is an albatross, not a boon, because it's completely uncontrollable and unmanageable. It is impossible for companies to protect their reputations and brands because of the way platforms like Twitter and Facebook work."

"And, btw I might add that social media goes back to the era of commodore 64's and Apples. It's nothing new. All that is new is hypesters writing silly articles about jumped about things businesses need to do. Bunk."

Yesterday I saw this post by Thomas Stoesser on BPM Redux Online, Theo's site:

"Are we really seeing something new here? What does 'social' actually mean and did we have it before the term was used all over the place?"

Thomas then cites Wikipedia's definition of social.

Ok, when someone reaches for the dictionary we've reached an impasse. As social has been around for millennia, so has intellectual debate. Reaching for the dictionary happens when we need to enhance our position or reset the context. Imagine in ancient Greece someone saying "ok, let's ask Aristotle" as a reference point like the dictionary. The only counter would be "that's fine Ari, but I was talking to Zeus yesterday..."

While it is not new, social is evolving. The speed and multi-platform message constructs of today's social capabilities introduce new challenges as well as new technology support platforms. For example, the wild and open nature of social is troubling to Robert. But in a discussion with a PR firm I asked if blogs and tweets satisfy requirements for Reg FD. The answer was a definite maybe. Here's an article on Google moving to the web for Reg FD disclosure. Is Twitter disclosure far behind?

If social has been around since the dawn of man (or Commodore 64) why has it become a problem now? Something has happened to create that chaos/opportunity situation. Speed and ubiquity.

As soon as we take the technology for its core value proposition (read: seeing through the hype) and accept it as a permanent fixture of the future our minds open up to new possibilities. IT is at the core of this issue. If IT cannot look at this in a positive light not only will end users go around them, IT will be paralyzed by fear from here forward.

Going back to prior discussions of IT being the trusted partner, how many CIOs have suggested to their executive peers that they evaluate the use of a social platform to satisfy SEC requirements? How does your IT group view social, menace or advantage?


Thanks for mentioning me. I hope to answer your question more fully in a book I'm working on called Giving The Business To Social Media - Hype, Hope, Bust, Reality.

In one of the chapters, which I'll try to excerpt on my website, there's an explanation.

Basically, social media HAS been around since the C-64. (As an active participant in creating and using platforms, I can say that first hand), BUT the different is that now, it's hit critical mass.

When only a tiny percent could access social media in the c-64 days, now you have hundreds of millions, and no checks and balances on anything said on a mass scale.

One person can potentially have more reach now (but usually doesn't), and occasional and rare stories do go viral about one company or another screwing up.

We exchanged that same info back on C-64's, but it's just that only few saw it.

It also helps to understand how fads or phenomena grow, hit critical mass via hype and hope, and then collapse in on themselves. That WILL happen to social media, by 2010, a huge shakeout.

Robert, thanks for your comment. I agree, the difference now is velocity and critical mass and that is creating issues we have never before faced.

Your book looks interesting. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Doug Mow blogs from a business executive's perspective about IT trends, tech news and life in the trenches of an Enterprise 2.0 transformation.

Doug Mow

#CMO of Courion Corporation responsible for all branding, communications, messaging, online and offline marketing. Courion is the leading provider of access management tools that provide maximum access to corporate IT assets with minimal risk.

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