Safe Social Networking

Loraine Lawson

The newest Web 2.0 phenom to catch the attention of the blogosphere is Twitter, which has been around for about a year but really took off at the March South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas.


Twitter (so you don't have to admit you don't know about it) is a new one-to-many spin-off of the IM concept. It allows you to tell your friends where you are and what you're thinking via your cell phone, an IM service or the Twitter site. While favored primarily by teenagers at present, Twitter clearly has corporate implications. Perhaps the most obvious one is helping you figure out where your colleagues are at a trade show, assuming you want them to know.


But beyond the privacy vs. let-it-all-hang-out aspects of the Twitter debate, there is the larger issue of whether or not all of life really is like high school, and, in a more serious vein, how IT departments in large corporations are to deal with an incoming work force that has come of age under the influence of video games, blogging, MySpace, YouTube and so on.


BI expert Neil Raden put it this way in a recent IT Business Edge interview, talking about how these uber-boomers may react to delays in integrating a dashboard. Raden speculated their attitude might be:

"Look, I'm playing a 3-D video strategy game with four people in China I don't even know, while I'm downloading data to my iPod, while I'm answering messages in Yahoo messenger. Are you going to tell me I can't have a report for three months?"

Stodgy IBM is with the Web 2.0 program, and in fact sees tools like blogs and wikis as instruments of cultural change. ARC Research also recently opined that social computing, expertise location, wikis and blogs should be used to augment more conventional collaboration tools like search engines, portals and ECM systems.


The big collaboration question, then, is this: Should corporations pander to the communication habits of a new generation, or make them toe the line with the tools already in place? As an experiment, why don't you let me know right now where you are and what you think about this?

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