On Tuesday, 3/31/09, I participated in an all-day event at the Boston Knowledge Management Forum: "Leveraging Virtual Teams and Social Tools for Business Advantage: Blogs, Wikis, Twitter, et al." I heard great presentations by Jessica Lipnack and Jeff Stamps of NetAge, Ken George of WBUR, Suzanne Minassian of IBM, and David Wallace of Gamechange LLC. I don't have the compelling research results, business challenges, or large-scale organization experience of those presenters, but I was there to speak about my own professional use of social networking tools. I have a lot of enthusiasm about web 2.0 technologies and I really enjoyed the conversations that ensued during all the presentations.
After the event, the buzz and increased activity within my network (lots of new followers on Twitter, mostly strangers to me, whose profiles typically indicate an interest in the social media) has gotten me thinking:
Did the cave dwellers back in 1000 AD have these kinds of conversations with each other -
"Have you noticed all the carving on rocks that is happening lately? It seems like everybody is doing it!"
"I don't understand why these young folks are carving the rocks all the time."
"How can I find the carvings I need to know about?"
"Do these carvings threaten us by leading the predators right to us?"
"If I want to start carving on rocks, what do I need to know?"
"How can I attract the widest possible audience to my carvings?"
I'm thinking probably they didn't. We're having all these meta-conversations now because we want to understand, and we want to help others understand. But the tools themselves are easy to use and don't require much explanation.
I love talking and thinking about these technologies as much as anyone, but I also believe what Edward Tufte says: "The interface should not attract attention to itself."
Should we be spending less energy on analyzing and discussing social media trends and technologies, and more time on our work, our relationships, and our interests, with the tools in a mere supporting role? (and what happens when the tools ARE our work, our relationships, and our interests?)
I'd love to hear others' opinions on this.