Believe it or not, the Internet is just now beginning to find its legs. Everything that came before is really just the orchestra warming up, even if it sounded pretty good sometimes. So now we’re 2 billion strong on the Web and and still growing.
Progress, though, has been very unevenly distributed. Massive change is coming as developing countries move to smart phones and many more people get on the information superhighway. On the heels of that, we have the Internet of Things to contend with.
This all adds up to a great deal of chaos.
Cutting through the clutter
The rise of social media gives us a chance to cut through the clutter of 2 billion equal voices and to selectively listen to the ones we care most about because they’re personal, professional, educational or anything else that suits us. Social media is our hedge against filter failure, the famous phrase coined by Clay Shirky long ago (in 2008…decades in Internet Time).
Take the time to watch the video and understand his statement about how far we’ve come from the first printed books:
The Internet created Post-Gutenberg Economics: The cost of anyone publishing anything by anyone has fallen through the floor and as a result, there’s no economic logic that says you have to filter for quality before you publish. The filter for quality is now way downstream from the site of production. What we’re talking about now isn’t information overload. We’re always dealing with information overload. Thinking about information overload isn’t actually describing the problem and thinking about filter failure is.
Distraction, silliness, irrelevance and sheer nonsense
And suddenly social media as a cultural or professional tool makes perfect sense. Strike that…social media as a cultural or professional tool is the only filter holding back distraction, silliness, irrelevance and sheer nonsense. It’s the only thing allowing the Post-Gutenberg world to function intelligently.
It hasn’t been very long since I last mentioned enterprise social media’s importance to someone who said, “What? That’s just a way to waste time and call it collaboration.” I was surprised by that response but I shouldn’t have been. Enterprise-level social media is such a new paradigm and comes directly on the heels of ‘cultural’ social media. It’s a leap too far for many people who haven’t accepted the value of Facebook or even LinkedIn (as hard as that is to believe).
What makes it ‘work’
We couldn’t have the Internet at work without a serious filter, and that doesn’t mean IT blocking sites, though many dinosaurs went that route and some are still there. It also isn’t email, which has spawned creation of very good spam filters that work against everything except nonsensical coworkers.
What increasingly makes the working world work is social media. We’re not ROTFL or LMAO…we’re talking to the people who follow us and listening only to those we follow. They aren’t even the same people, which is the beauty.
Hopefully gone are the days when a few select people ‘higher up’ decided who owned creativity, efficiency, and information. We live in an increasingly lateral world and again, that’s the beauty and the curse.
Our filters are gone unless we put them back.
The Lateral World
We took a big step last week and, with help from friends, launched SuccessfulWorkplace as a LinkedIn group. We did this based on our excellent experience with other LinkedIn groups that operate great filters that disconnect us from the noise.
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, the role of social media in any setting is to disconnect us from everything that’s wrong about a remarkably lateral world.