I was pondering this as I was installing Connections and thought it would be a good topic for a blog entry. I am interested in people's comments about it as well.
We all agree that social computing is obtaining greater adoption by the day. I recently read in the book "The Social Factor" that the adoption of VCRs in U.S. homes took almost 20 years and was delayed while the VHS and BETA war waged on for nearly ten of those years. In more recent time (the Social Age) we had a similar war between BlueRay and HD-DVD. While there were arguments made on both sides of the fence, the public ultimately decided the fate of HD-DVD and BlueRay in only two years. Attributing this to the fact that the war was not waged on news channels alone, or by "experts" in the industry, but by consumers in social forums. With communication and collaboration happening this much faster, one can not ignore the impact these technologies have.
So what does this mean?
Social computing is a powerful tool, and should be treated as such. Random blogs (like this one) can be created and added to the information overload on the internet instantly. Your advice to the world can have in impact in a big way. Regardless of where you publish, post, blog, etc., the more significant idea in my mind is how you do it. I can not offer advice on who should or should not do it, or topics to/not to cover. I believe everyone can and should embrace these technologies and no topic be spared from the scrutiny of pubic debate. I will offer these word of advice:
- Don't post something you would be embarrassed if your Mom/Grandmother/Father/etc. would find/read it.: This one seems obvious, but not necessarily for the obvious reasons. With information proliferating at an alarming rate, anything about you, by you, for you will be added to your resume when trying to secure a new job or placement in a school. If your prospective employer finds images of you in a compromising position with alcohol around you, it may weigh against you when compared to equally qualified candidates. This applied to language used in your postings, morality and topics addressed, etc. If you want to be known as the rebel who only discusses hot issues, then go for it... but be prepared for the consequences. (Which may not all be bad!)
- Contribution is not the end of individualized expertise: There are those of us who may still believe that the way to be "irreplaceable" is to have something no one else has. While on some level I understand and share the desire to be unique among competitors, I think that can be achieved through the use of social media, and not despite it. Being the first to share experiences with a community can solidify your position as an early adopter, or the person to go to when a question about the topic arises.
- Sharing too much??: This could be viewed as a side note to item 1. While you may find it appropriate to discuss a rash with close family, the internet at large is NOT your family. Does this mean that you should not put personal items/posts on your company blog? NOT AT ALL! I feel quite the opposite. Just keep the conversation on the same level as if you were discussing the topic with strangers or prospective first time clients. Sometimes letting people know you have greater depth besides just work can be a good thing. Maybe you will connect with someone on a level not expected because of a common liking for Mel Brooks movies, or something else off topic.
- Give credit where it is due.: If you find something on someone else's blog, include a link to the original content. Recognize the original author. You would expect the same in return, no?
- Respect the privacy of others!: Just because you are willing to share an experience with the world, or you found something humorous that your friend did does not mean the other party or parties involved feel the same way about sharing. If you want to post pictures, quotes, etc. it is courteous to seek the permission of said parties. You never know why someone may want or even need to remain anonymous. I often feel that one should err on the side of caution with this particular point. When in doubt... omit. It is also nice to know when to post publicly and when to privately message someone a response. If a friend in your network asks for advice about a mutual friend, it may be best to share that explicitly with the first party.