Using Social Media to connect organizations

I am involved in an exciting new initiative that works to overcome collaboration problems. This new initiative (that emerged from ParticipationCamp) is called OpenKollab and we set out to providing a space where projects can get support for answering these questions. OpenKollab is both a community and a platform, with a mix of technologist and process oriented people driving it. Check out the wiki and tune into the IRC channel #openkollab and get involved if you believe in openness and want to experiment with new forms of collaboration.

Questions we should ask: How do our projects share data? How do our projects share users? How do our projects share impact? How do our projects connect with other projects? Should we be collaborating on another project rather than inventing another wheel?

via http://www.amysampleward.org/2009/04/22/wiring-the-green-movement-for-earth-day/

Can social and collaborative networks be combined?

Here are a couple of posts, which I think help thinking through what tools are needed within an organization to make workflows more open and transparent and most of all more efficient and effective.

In The Future of Collaborative Networks, Aaron Fulkerson from Mindtouch shares his definition of a collaborative network:

This information fabric is a federation of content from the multiplicity of data and application silos utilized on a daily basis; such as, ERP, CRM, file servers, email, databases, web-services infrastructures, etc. When you make this information fabric easy to edit between groups of individuals in a dynamic, secure, governed and real-time manner, it creates a Collaborative Network.

He argues that social media applications are not good tools to solve organizational problems, but often add another layer of disconnected data and application silos. Oliver Marks agrees that there is a “need for flexibility and interoperability with existing applications and [that there are] crucial differences between consumer oriented social life networking and business focused collaboration networks.”

Patti Anklam goes so far as to talk about a tension between connection and collaboration and argues that there is a need to balance both in an organization. Her lesson:

[Y]ou can develop a good social network inside the organization to satisfy the needs for connecting, but when you want to collaborate, you need a tool that provides more rigor for content and task management.

So the solution is to have two separate applications? How will they interact or will they be two silos? What happened to interoperability? Can’t there be tools that can fulfill both needs?

Listen, embrace feedback and go viral

Viral effects are a form of feedback. Viral effects aren’t about “viral marketing”. They’re about the transmission of stuff from one actor to another — in a classic increasing returns pattern: 2 people, 4 people, 16 people, 256 people you can pick your own exponent. That stuff can be flu bugs — or better stuff, like information, reputation, money…anything. The sky’s the limit in a hyperconnected world.

via The Age of Viral Feedback – Umair Haque – HarvardBusiness.org.

Lessons from RTVC: Realtime Virtual Collaboration Workshop

I just realized that I never posted a summary and the lessons learned from the Realtime Virtual Collaboration Workshop I helped organize.

Here is the main summary in form of a presentation we prepared.

Important to note that the organizing group is continuing to work together and will soon give birth to a new enterprise called Radical Inclusion. Radical Inclusion focuses on inter- and intraorganizational collaboration as well as online conference and seminar services to bridge online and offline conversations to create value for organizations and communities.

Read more about Radical Inclusion at http://radical-inclusion.com and follow us on twitter.

Citizenship, communication and politics

Interesting talk in the face of the ongoing events in Iran:

Clay Shirky shows how Facebook, Twitter and TXTs help citizens in repressive regimes to report on real news, bypassing censors however briefly. The end of top-down control of news is changing the nature of politics.

via Clay Shirky: How cellphones, Twitter, Facebook can make history | Video on TED.com.

Information privacy as a responsibility?

A post by Joshua-Michéle Ross asks the question how we can benefit from the digital age without compromising our information privacy:

So why is it that we seem to have more comfort when the capacity for total information awareness lies with corporations as opposed to government? Experience shows that there is a very thin barrier between the two.

His conclusion:

The true work of the 21st century lies not in refining our technology – this we will achieve without any political will. The work lies in re-imagining our institutions.

via Captivity of the Commons – O’Reilly Radar.

Can we direct slow unconscious change processes?

In his TED talk, Seth Godin defines change leaders as heretics looking at the status quo and deciding that it is not for them. He is talking about consciously choosing to change something and doing it.

There is also another type of change that happens without realizing it, sometimes without wanting it.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Inhotim, a contemporary art museum and beautiful garden. If you ever are near Belo Horizonte, do visit this small park, it is amazing!

To be honest I am not a big fan of contemporary art, but one of the art pieces there that spoke to me was Samson (1985) by Chris Burden.

Samson (1985) by Chris Burden

Samson (1985) by Chris Burden

From the explanatory sign:

Samson (1985) consists of a 100 ton jack connected to a gear box and a turnstile. The jack pushes two large timbers against the walls of the gallery. Each visitor to the exhibition must pass through the turnstile and each input on the turnstile ever so slightly expands the jack, and ultimately, if enough people visit the exhibition, Samson (1985) could, theoretically, destroy the building. (…) The institutional critique in Samson (1985) is brutal and subtle simultaneously: by forcing spectators to pass through the turnstile in order to satisfy their curiosity, Burden assigns them equal culpability in the potential destruction of the gallery space.

A couple of parallels from life outside the museum come to mind immediately: we are slowly destroying our basis of living. It is not the single act of driving 500 meters to get milk or buying a new cellphone every 6 months, but the sum of all these small things that add up to destroy the natural resources we depend on.

Another example is social media: Tweet by tweet, share by share, wall comment by wall comment, digg by digg, we are changing the way we communicate and work with each other and this already has profound implications for the way organizations and governments work, hire, and communicate.

Can Seth’s heretics give this unconscious change direction so we create value for each other instead of destroying it? What do you think?