E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

August 5, 2008

Do What Works for You – About Time!

I must admit that for a good number of years I used to be one of them. One of those folks who was, probably, well known as a die-hard, hardcore early adopter, always willing to try out new social software tools even way before they reached the beta status. Always on the bleeding edge of technology, hoping to pave the ground for when other folks my be coming on board of whatever the actual tool. Always enjoying staying ahead of the curve, providing constructive feedback on how to improve each of those tools to provide the best user experience possible, since most knowledge workers out there may not have been able to experience them well enough to start making heavy use of them so soon!

However, that all changed a bit a few months back, perhaps about a year and a half ago, when I decided it was a good time to make a stand and change the approach a little bit. Yes, I am still that hardcore early adopter, as I am sure a bunch of you folks out there, who know me personally, would be able to confirm. I still enjoy playing with multiple various social software tools to check out what they offer and see how they may help out improve my daily productivity. And that of others, too! The shift though came from the perspective where I am no longer jumping into the next new shiny object out there on the Social Networking space!

Yes, that’s right! For a good number of months now I have stopped jumping on board of plenty of the various social software tools available out there. Examples like Plurk, Jaiku, Pownce, BrightKite are just a few of them. I am sure you can come up with a whole bunch more of them! And I am not using them not because some of my connections may be using them, nor because they may not be interesting, on the contrary, I have played with them in the past, but they never made the cut for me to be moved into my production tools suite within the Social Software space. And while trying to explain why, I have always found it kind of difficult to detail why that happens.

Well, till today. Take a look into the wonderful blog post from Chris Brogan "Do What Works for You". This is one of those blog posts that, as I got busy reading through it, I just couldn’t help nodding on how simple its message is, yet how effective! So much so that I would consider it an essential reading for everyone who may be at whatever level of involvement with social software both in the consumer space, i.e. Web 2.0, as well as Enterprise 2.0. More than anything else because you would be able to find precious gems like this one:

"Welcome to the fishbowl. In here, we get a little bit too excited sometimes. We get zealous about the bleeding edge. We sometimes get tired of things before most of the rest of the Internet has even found it. And we often crave connections and meaning and value out of these shiny objects."

Or this other one, which is my very favourite one from the entire blog post and which I am really glad I will be quoting it over here, so that I may be able to help spread the message around it further on:

"But don’t let people tell you that you’re wrong for not liking something. Not into blogging? Swell. Don’t like Twitter? Fine. Hate podcasts? Perfect. It’s okay not to need/want/love the whole landscape. There are lots of services that people love that don’t fit my personal needs. I appreciate the services, but I’m not using them much.

If you’re here for business, for entertainment, to meet new friends, great. Do what works for you. […]" (Emphasis mine)

I couldn’t probably have put it in better words than those. Chris, with those couple of quotes, has just managed to split up in two different parts what plenty of folks have always been thinking, all along, would not be separate. Ever. Yes, he has managed to split "play with the tools" and "stick with those that make you more productive!" And has managed to do so successfully and without hurting anyone in the attempt. Or, like he better puts it as well later on in that same blog post:

"Learn what works. Try out lots of things. And then go with what you end up liking. No harm. No foul."

That statement, folks, is the one that would help you make the successful move and transition to adopting social computing and social software tools, both within the corporate world and beyond, and start enjoying some of the most interesting and exciting conversations. There is no need for you to spread thinner than whatever you may well be already; just because one or two of your connections are sending you invites to the next shiny object they are trying out, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you would be jumping next to try it out, too! It is ok to say that you pass that time around, that you are not very much interested on that specific new social tool, because it doesn’t fulfil specific needs, your needs; so at that present moment in time there is no reason for you to be there. It is ok to say to those connections that you are not going to spread thinner that time around and that you would wait for a little bit for their impressions to then perhaps start with the playing phase, once again.

I am not sure what you would think about this, but "Do What Works for You" is one of those blog posts that I can certainly relate to the most, specially after I started with this new motto of mine around giving up on e-mail, while at work. I still keep playing with various different social software tools, don’t take me wrong; normally, I try them out for a week or two (That’s the standard time that I recommend to folks as well), and then I re-evaluate the experience and confirm for myself whether the new social software tool would be incorporated into my own tools suite within the 2.0 space or whether I will still be playing some more or leave it alone for a while.

That, to me, has been the key to the success of having moved away from corporate e-mail and embrace social software tools instead. Yes, like I said, I keep playing with the tools for quite a bit to get a sense and a flavour of what’s coming up; yet, if you ask me how many of those social networking tools I get to use on a daily basis I could probably reduce that number to a handful of them that I am heavily using at the moment. Why? Because those are the main ones that do one specific job and they are very good at it: they help me boost my productivity and take it into new levels by helping me address issues / problems from my daily workflow and how I can address them with a 2.0 touch / flavour.

The rest are nice, but not my primary target. Such target is to stay productive by fixing the issues I may encounter on a daily basis and avoid splitting up myself thinner than ever before seeking that new shiny object. Sorry. This time around I pass…

And you? Are you doing what works for you?

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An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube by Michael Wesch

Continuing further with the frenzy of shorter blog posts as well as injecting some rich media into this blog, I thought I would go ahead today and share one of the most impressive and inspirational videos I have bumped into for a long while! And I mean, in a long while! It is coming from a wonderful presentation that Michael Wesch did just recently at the Library of Congress and which has been shared across as well in YouTube.

I am sure that all of those folks heavily involved with Social Media / Computing would already know who Michael Wesch is (Have blogged about him and his work in the past a couple of times already!), so I probably wouldn’t need to make any kind of introduction, but for those folks out there who may not know about him, not to worry, I won’t be doing that intro either! 😉

I will just ask you, all of you, eventually, to have a look into the presentation he did recently around the following topic: "An anthropological introduction to YouTube". The blog post providing an outline of what you would be able to find there can be found over at  “An anthropological introduction to YouTube” video of Library of Congress presentation and I can tell you, whether you love or hate YouTube, whether you would see its value or not, whether you would consider it a powerful platform to engage through video-sharing & video-blogging, amongst many many other things, or not, this is one of those presentations that will surely change your opinion, and inner thoughts, about YouTube and how it has changed our society and the culture of the entire human race!

It’s happened to me. Every time that I now go to YouTube, I don’t look into it with the same eyes or rules of engagement (Stay tuned for some more on that one!) as I used to. It has surely opened up my views on the kind of impact it is having within our society (And that would extend, obviously, to the role of ALL Social Media / Computing for that matter!) and if there would be a couple of words that I could use to describe his presentation they would be these two: a must watch!!! (Yes, I know that’s three words! But you know what I mean, right?)

Thus without much further ado, here is the direct link to the video, as well as the embedded version below, and after you have watched it, I challenge you all to confirm whether you have been moved by it or not. I am sure that you would, and very much so! (Specially towards the end of it!). And if not, nothing else would probably do within the social media space. I can tell you that, too! (That’s how incredibly moving, educational & enlightening it is!)

(Oh, and watch out this space as well, because it will not be the last time that in the next few days I will be talking about Michael and the brilliant piece of work he has been doing already in helping us understand how social computing is changing not only how we work, but also how we live our lives and the impact this kind of innovation is having in us all!)

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