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

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Social Business Forum and a Touch with Reality

Gran Canaria - Degollada De Las Yeguas in the WinterAs you may well remember from a couple of recent blog posts I put together over here, this week, on June 8th, the yearly Social Business Forum will be taking place in Milan and it will be a great honour for me to be able to attend it as well as go and present on the topic of “Communities or Organisations? – The New Collaboration Ecology”, where I will be sharing some further insights on IBM’s various experiences with regards to the wider adoption, enablement and empowerment of online communities through social software tools and how traditional hierarchies and teams are transforming themselves, as a result of it, into a new, richer, more complex, more dynamic and agile Collaboration Ecology. I’ll be sharing some initial reflections as well on an absolutely wonderful piece of research done by the IBM Almaden Research folks with Tara Matthews leading the efforts in this very same area of figuring out the next generation of the collaboration landscape.

There will be, as usual, plenty of live tweeting from my side over at @elsua under the hash tag #sbf11 and a couple of follow-up blog posts with plenty of highlights from the overall event as well, but that would be the subject for another blog post or two. For now, I would want to reflect on something that I have noticed it’s starting to happen to me more often than not and so far it’s proved to be a challenge to put it down for good in order to reflect further on it to see where it would finally go. So I thought that today could be the perfect opportunity to air it out and, at long last, get it out of my chest. Yes, indeed, folks, it looks like my Hippie 2.0 side is coming out again, and this time around in full force and with a sweet, long lasting vengeance after putting it in a dormant status for far too long!

They keep saying that a good personal business blog is that one that has struck that perfect 80% / 20% balance; 80% business and 20% personal. Funny enough, I have always felt that most of the content I have shared over here, in this blog, has been, for the most part, business related, with the odd personal entry here and there. However, and over the last few weeks, I have been putting together a whole bunch of various different blog entries that I wanted to share across, but that never made it, because they were exceeding that 20% big time. I know they would need to get out at some point, but somehow I am kind of not very keen on re-converting this blog on something far too personal. It wouldn’t be the purpose of what I envisioned for the blog right from the start. And, certainly, creating another one, separate from this one, is not an idea I would want to contemplate just yet. Thus how do you get to compromise? Do you actually need to compromise in the first place? Should you? Will people walk away and never come back if you start becoming a bit too personal? A bit too close? Hummm, questions, questions. Choices, choices. Not an easy answer for any of them, don’t you think?Gran Canaria - Risco Blanco & Santa Lucia in the Winter

I am sure though, at this point in time, you may be wondering what has triggered that sudden change and that re-emergence of my Hippie 2.0 side, right? Well, you are probably not going to believe it, but it’s mostly been a rather hard and sudden touch with reality that has provoked an awakening, like no other, for yours truly in a couple of areas that I never thought I would see coming along after all of this time being on the Web: mainly that one of being a critical thinker while being a good citizen / netizen. And I am sure you know where I am heading with this … It’s been an awakening that I am finding it harder and harder to tame and control over the course of time, to the point, where, in some cases I have hinted already that certain change is already in the making and happening altogether.

Back in 2001, when I was first exposed to social software tools, there were a number of different guidelines I decided to put in place and abide for myself; mainly, stating there would be three different subjects that I wouldn’t touch much *ever* in any online Web form. Mainly, politics, religion and sports. So far I think I have been doing pretty well, since I hardly ever get to share any content in either of those three subjects. However, things are changing and somehow I feel there is no way back. Involvement is a very powerful word, indeed. And that touch with reality that I have experienced over the last couple of weeks surely has marked the time when that involvement may be much tighter and much more direct than whatever was happening in the past. At least, for me.

Yes, that’s right! For a long while I have stayed away, on purpose, from the whole world of politics, more than anything else, because I know, along with religion and sports, it’s one of those visceral subjects that often keeps getting misinterpreted time and time again provoking even more trouble than helping out in the first place. Yet, when certain things like this one happen far too close to home (I was there just the same morning that set of events took place!) one starts to question whether you can let it go, just like that, hoping that it will be forgotten, when you know exactly that’s not going to happen. They call us internauts, bloggers, twitterers, facebookers, social networkers, freaks, you name it. When in reality we are just like them; citizens taking advantage of the tools available to us to try to make a difference.

Gran Canaria - Ayacata in the WinterIt bugs me. It bugs me big time that my social computing evangelist bubble has burst just like that, so easy. It bugs me the huge amount of fear and apprehension there seems to be out there, from all over the place, towards the Internet, specially, that thing called social networks, where no-one seems to have the control over them, as if they are the last resource of freedom, or revelry, the world has got left out there. It gets me how, now more than ever, I keep ending up having rather engaging discussions where I end up trying to justify a social behaviour that’s been with us for thousands and thousands of years and that’s finally finding its natural path: that one of showing how interconnected we all are with one another. Regardless.

You see? I told you. My Hippie 2.0 side is back! Ha! I knew it would eventually be happening, but I never expected that it would be coming back in such full force… To the point, where, even if my 2.0 evangelist bubble has been burst and smashed in hundreds of pieces in the last couple of weeks I’m now more motivated than ever to do a better job at evangelising around the subject of social networks than ever before, wanting to reach out beyond the original focus within the corporate, business environment and directly into our societies as a whole, because, after all, that’s all it matters, isn’t it? Who we are and how we are connected with one another. And if I can help open up a few more eyes and ears, why not? Wouldn’t it be worth it for all of us altogether? I mean, what are we, social computing evangelists, doing to help those around us understand where our passion and motivation for these social tools come from? Why don’t we try to make a little bit of an extra effort and pledge to make a difference with those evangelism efforts?

Well, I do realise that this is not the typical blog entry you would be expecting to read over here. And that’s fine. I wasn’t expecting it myself either. I meant it as an article reflecting on some personal changes I am seeing, AND experiencing myself, that I cannot longer control (Not even sure anymore I would want to control them in the first place!) around the potential impact social has way beyond just a business context. I do hope you understand though where I am coming from. Where that touch with reality has made me realise there is now more work ahead of us than ever before! Specially, seeing recent global events in multiple countries, I doubt we would ever have a choice anymore to ignore it. In fact, I am starting to think I don’t want to ignore it any longer. I have done so for over a decade and I am starting to have enough of it; enough of having to justify how I live the Social Web, just because people don’t understand it, as a result of the fear they have been accumulating over time from all over the place. Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo in the Winter

You see? As my good friend and, fellow Hippie 2.0, Mark Masterson once wisely said, not long ago, If you focus on fear, you’ll get fear. If you focus on humour, you’ll get laughs“, I thought I would close this thinking-out-loud open reflection letting folks know that, somehow, this blog (As well as my overall online interactions in social networks) have just started a new phase where my new mission is that one helping focus on the humour and the laughs versus the fear. I know now why I put together Three Wishes at the beginning of the year. Started to hint it subconsciously right there! Basically, to keep evangelising on social computing, not just in a business context, but also as an integral part of our societies, as citizens, because, at the end of the day, we are not internauts, we are not bloggers, nor twitterers nor facebookers, we are just people with a strong willingness to connect, and stay connected, with those who we share a common affinity with and learn further insights from that knowledge sharing experience to help us all become better at what we already do.

That’s why I am embedding this video clip over here, as part of the weekly inspiring series of videos, by Aleix Saló under the title “ESPAÑISTAN La Burbuja Inmobiliaria a la Crisis by Aleix Salo“, which clearly marks, to me, what innovation, creativity and a touch of humour can do to help explain complex problems we are facing ourselves with simple solutions, whether work related or not. In this case, the latter. Something that affects us all…

(Video clip in Spanish)

I guess I am now, finally, ready to unleash the fury, the passion and the motivation behind my Hippie 2.0 side and let it spread around once again. Somehow I am hoping I won’t be the only one…

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  1. Now I know what you meant when we were talking in Milan! And I think the reactions you received focussed on the less significant part of your message. I feel happy that you let the hippie 2.0 monster out of the closet. To me, social media are all about empowerment, and since when is that limited to business?
    I understand that you refrain from discussing your sports partialities and religion in your blog, because thats personal. Politics, however, is per definitionem not personal, but social. Actually I wonder why social media evangelists are not much more politically active. Is that a sad little proof of today’s materialism?
    I’m with you on that “unleash the hippie 2.0” mission. And I’m all for “think global, act local”. That’s why my first ever personal blog was (and still is) focused on local politics. And you know what? On this small local level, this small blog I co-write with two hippie 2.0 blokes has really got things moving!

    1. Hiya, Cordelia! Oh, my goodness! What a wonderful comment! Thanks ever so much for taking the time to read it and comment on it, specially, after wonderful conversations on the topic while at #sbf11; fantastic!! And really glad you have served the inspiration to keep things going, specially, in that other social area (100% in agreement, by the way!) called politics! After all, man is a political animal, or so they say! hehe

      It is funny to come along and admit that such change was eventually provoked by the offline world and not the online / 2.0 one; in fact, it was that evangelism effort with those not connected the one that triggered the re-ignition of the Hippie 2.0 side of yours truly and it’s not more ravenous than ever before! 🙂

      Thanks much, once again, Cordelia, for the wonderful comments and look forward to sharing plenty more experiences on the social web or F2F next time around in October! 😉 hehe

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