Tuesday Jun 19, 2007

The Information Overload of Social Networking

I have been exploring, along with many of my friends and colleagues at Sun, the value and use of social networking applications. There is definitely a lot of potential and value with tools such as Ning, Twitter, Facebook, Second Life, Delicous (aka Swanlicous for Sun employees) and many others.

My question or challenge is this: with so much information already available and difficult to find within Sun and on the open web (a challenge we have been trying to address with Grokker, Goolge Search Appliance, good information architecture and organization, tagging, etc.) - how are we going to ensure that these new high value tools that hold high value content are organized and the content findable within the organization (see The Magic of Findability blog entry by my friend and colleague Soctt Brown)?

A specific challenge for me are my Ning communities - there is nothing alerting me in any way when there is something new. Sorta like the beginning of static websites where you'd have to go to the site daily to see for yourself if there was anything new. I'd don't want to see us facing information and social networking fatigue.

If some things could be pushed at me via RSS/ATOM or email or IM or text message - that would be great and help with ensuring I don't miss the things I need to know on a daily basis. It would allow me to decide where I want the information and how I want to receive it. Then there is the discovery and findability of all that content - we need to be sure we are thinking about an approach so that 1-2 years from now we are not struggling to "find" the information we need to do our jobs, communicate, innovate, discover, and collaborate.

RSS/ATOM is certainly allowing me to aggregate some of the information from some of the tools. However, I don't have that one site where I can aggregate all the things that I'd like to - maybe this is the ultimate mashup and intranet for an organization. An interesting exploration is the Facebook Platform (see Facebook's app feeding frenzy) where developers can develop tools to integrate with Facebook - this alone has helped me to keep up on my Facebook connections as well as messaging from folks via Twitter.

At the end of the day, we are at a really interesting and booming time for social tools. I've learned so much already from our experiments with tools like these - things about colleagues opinions, interests, projects, skills, etc. that I would never have known otherwise. It's all really valuable and the heart of the information world - creating, sharing, collaborating, finding, discovering, exploring, using and accessing critical content and people - when, how and where I want.

Hey - maybe my avatar, Violet, can help me keep up? 

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mbriggs

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