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

From the blog

Work The Web

Gran Canaria - Driving through the countrysideHow many times have you heard already, and over the last few months specially, how Social Computing (And social software along with social networking for that matter!) is still very much in its infancy. After all, a relatively close term like Enterprise 2.0 was just eventually coined by Andy McAfee in 2006. So you would think that all of this hype going around Social Computing is something we have just gotten started with and perhaps we are going to see plenty of it still. Well, maybe not…

Last week I bumped into a YouTube video, which is actually a commercial, that I thought was rather shocking! Why? Because more than anything else most of the key core principles from everything related to the 2.0 movement were detailed in there quite nicely. Yes, I know, that’s not much of a shock in there, is it? I mean, there are thousands of YouTube related videos on this topic. But what would happen if that clip was eventually from 1998? Yes, you are reading it right: 1998!

Would that change your opinion? Would that make you think that perhaps we haven’t been as innovative in this 2.0 space as we thought we would be with the current state of things? Would you believe that back them a bunch of people already got to understand some of those various principles that regulate our 2.0 experiences today… 11 years later!?!?!

Whoah! Yeah, I know! That’s exactly how I felt when I went through that commercial video clip. Even more when it came from the company that employs me, IBM, and just about a year after I joined its workforce, where I was doing customer support for the Mainframe (Yes, the good old VM Mainframe). As if I didn’t have enough already to add to that shock! Mind you, when I first started thinking about social software and how I would use it at work it was probably around 2002 or thereabouts and it still took me a while to engage (December 2003).

So nearly five years early it looks like it was all thought about in this space of social software and even more when all along I have been saying that social networking is all about everything but the tools. It’s a social and transformational phenomenon to humanise and personalise the corporate environment, so that we would have an opportunity to foster and boost our own personal business relationships in order to help us collaborate closer and share our knowledge with other knowledge workers in much more powerful ways. In short, work smarter, not necessarily harder.

And then I bumped into Work the Web. A two and a half minute video with some very very powerful messages that I bet we could all relate to, specially if you have been involved with social software for a little while. You would need to do a little exercise though. Strip out the Blank! from the video and that’s when it would become much more shocking and revealing altogether. And if you don’t believe me, here is the embedded version of it, so you can judge for yourself:

I told you! Amazing, wasn’t it? All of our efforts from the last few years it looks like they were already out there as far back as 1998. And I am not just talking about the consumer space. That clip was perceived under a business context and, even better, the byline that permeates throughout the video, which, I think, transmits a very clear challenge of what we still face, 11 years down the line, as our main key challenge for Enterprise 2.0 to change the corporate world as we know it:

"Enabling Many to Act as One!"

Exciting and fun times ahead, don’t you think? It just feels like it is 1998 once again!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0 votes


  1. Hi Luis, very interesting.

    I guess its true that the ideas about the potential of computers to help us work more effectively and collaborate better have been around for the long time. If you haven’t already you should read Ray Ozzie’s interview in Wired Dec 2008 where he talks about the Plato system at University of Illinois which was way ahead of its time: http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/16-12/ff_ozzie?currentPage=1

    I think there are a few new interesting innovations in the collaboration space which weren’t around last time.. for example monitoring activity and automatically sharing it as status with others, or learning from users to suggest new relevant content and present it in the context of a user’s work. Check out Socialtext or Infovark for example.

    I agree though, these are exciting times, and I think we are definitely closer to the beginning of a big change than the end!

  2. In 1998 we were using Lotus Notes on a Domino server in order to work collaboratively with our clients at a distance. We had to drag them kicking & screaming into this much more transparent environment. Most just didn’t participate, even though it was easier, simpler and more efficient. Changing technology is easy; changing people is much more difficult. That’s why it’s taking so long.

  3. Thanks Luis,
    I remember this video since my early days in KM. I used it extensively for sales pitches and workshops way back in 2000.
    We (I was at Satyam then) even created a E2.0 type solution for Indian Oil Corporation by integrating ~ 7 different products from Websphere and Lotus suite in 2003 and even won IBM beacon award 2004 for “Best Knowledge and Content Mgmt Portal”

  4. Hi Luis, as you know it was about 1995 when I first discovered what later would be referred to as social computing and from that point on was frustrated by how slowly and incompletely most people adopted it. It’s been almost 3 years since I left the corporate world and it looks like I’d still be frustrated had I stayed.

    What is it that keeps some folks from jumping on the band wagon? (How many times have we asked that question?)

    I’m glad to see you are still pushing ahead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *