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November 21, 2011


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Very insightful and thought provoking writeup!

Some thoughts:
E20 platforms should surface analytics or calculate affinity scores that mix public and private participation - strong ties vs. weak ties w/o org chart constraints. Semantic ontologies that bring to surface connections (private or public) that act at 'points of control' on the social graph.

To what extent are platforms surfacing 'silent user' analytics? (view counts, hits etc)

In the realm of E20, the path towards acquiring 'social capital' is lined w/ obstacles of all sorts (esp. for non execs). It is very important to be 'politically correct', yet collaborate and exemplify (public+private) sharing paradigms. Do E20 collaboration platforms effectively provide/encourage an environment where 'leaf node' employees can voice opinions w/o constraints or fears of the org chart (even private scoped). (An extreme example might be 'blue collar' industry union or historical uprisings that have induced a renaissance - the very essence driving such a reformation being collaboration amongst peers) Ideation, effective task management (and innovation) should arise naturally out of peer to peer collaboration.

Policies and social affinity scores (based on interests, relevancy, participation) encourage peer to peer collaboration and form an active network. Ripple effects build across the the 'leaf node' workforce and E20 adoption grows exponentially. (To what extent have E20 deployments succeeded in revolutionizing thought processes and culture shifts?)

How do E20 platforms bring out and leverage the intersect b/w org identity, participatory culture and social presence?

Or are research studies (if any) based on peer to peer (private) collaboration paradigms better indicators of successful E20 platforms?

Look fwd to your insights!


Very interesting post, albeit a long one. Worth reading. Thanks to Mike for posting references for further reading...

Mike Gotta


Should E2.0 platforms have some measures that allude to participation, reputation, community equity, etc? Sure - I don't think anyone would disagree. I think you need to be careful about the issue of privacy and what is public. There are situations were analytics can be misapplied and counter security/compliance and even relevant privacy guidelines. There is a natural tension between what the organization wants to discover about its employees and what employees want to shield from management and/or other colleagues. If we reach a point with analytics that employees feel they are totally transparent, I would expect significant push-back and disengagement from such systems.

I'm not clear what you mean by "points of control" on the social graph though. "Control" by whom? The vendor, management, the employee?

Also - org charts reflect social networks. It's a common misconception. An org char is a network whose ties are reporting. The more you think of tie types, the more flexible your perspective is on social networks.

Regarding strong and weak ties - that's also relevant. I might have a strong tie to someone based on a reporting tie but a weak relation to someone based on subject matter expertise. One of the mistakes we make is treating all tie types the same.


Some platforms roll these up into "top blogs", "top posts", "top fill-in-the-blank". Social analytics is an underserved capability in almost all the platforms out there - tremendous room for growth.


I would look at my past couple of blog posts on social capital. Social capital remains a vague and inconsistent topic with inadequate means of measurement. Social capital is largely intangible, tacit, and unseen physically. There may be signals but signals themselves may be misleading.


The platform would be the least of my concern regarding employee participation. Participation is overwhelmingly a factor of culture. Even when work tasks direct people to collaborate, ultimately, they own their level of engagement and what they will share. Minimally they will do what needs to be done to keep their job etc but volunteering more about what they know etc cannot be something a tool or platform can conscript. David Snowden was done a lot of work in this area. Regarding the blue collar, white collar etc type "social circles" - sure - I've talked to organizations about those types of structures and boundaries. Technology has a role but there are more non-technology issues to deal with before answered a question regarding the platform.


I would not state defacto that policies and social affinity scores improve peer to peer collaboration or even form active networks. Are they influencing factors, sure. Do they create an "invitation" to connect, sure. Perhaps it's the wording. Social network sites create affordances people can choose to leverage. Ultimately there are a variety of factors the encourage collaboration and networks. There is no single way to scale E2.0 adoption. I've seen many variants work - top/down, bottom/up, etc. That's not to dismiss ripple effects but there are multiple dynamics at play at once - people, technology, process, leadership, champions, communities, etc. I think people forget that there are a myriad of social networks already active within an organization - you can make a case that all human interactions occurs within a network context - E2.0 delivers new types of media, new types of affordances - with new ways of participating we need to work out the norms and etiquetes - but you don't defacto gain benefits from these affordances in most cases.


With identity: the profile and social graph intersect strongly with identity. Unfortunately, I think vendors overall do not invest enough in profiles-as-identity. With Participatory Culture: that's more of a non-technological perspective - if you look at Jenkins' work, it emerges from the educational and youth domains. Media is involved but the focus point is learning, literacies, culture.

Again, I don't think of success in terms of the platform per se. All platforms have the strong points and weak points. Bad platforms certainly hurt. But good platforms shift the emphasis to the non-technological aspects of communication, sharing, collaboration, communities, etc. It also brings to question what "success" means - I'm not convinced we are thinking of success outside the box. In fact, right now, we seem to be retreating back to comfortable surroundings (social integrated within process) although that angle has been played in the past. Integrating E2.0 within processes is necessary but it's not the only way to measure success.

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