In 1994, Forester Research stated that “the Internet is too anarchistic for prime-time business and too complex for the average techno-peasant to master.” In discussions on actKM, Matt Moore has asked whether business is now ready for Social Media – blogs, wikis, RSS, etc.
We have a whole generation of tech-savvy people now entering the workforce that have no memory of a world without PCs and the Internet – and only bad memories of an Internet without broadband access. They live on MySpace and Instant Messenger. If they come into a corporate office today, they will probably feel like their arms have been cut off. (I remember that one of my first workplaces didn’t have STD on the phone system and I had to go through an operator to make long distance calls – it seemed so archaic then!)
Different social media tools may suit different business environments. RSS allows individuals to choose what they read, which may be a big benefit, but corporate communications managers may be somewhat scared by this prospect! (Funny, because they can do that now by deleting emails…). People will adapt to use the tools that suit their needs.
Is there a distinction between “personal” and “professional” use of Social Media? Should we restrict the use of these tools in the workplace to “business use only” – or restrict the use of some media for fear that they will be used (or abused) for “personal” use?
If we do this, we are potentially restricting the ability of our people to be creative and productive. We are also showing mistrust, and knowledge sharing only flourishes in an environment of trust.
It can be unhelpful to try to compartmentalise our life too much. Is this blog personal or professional? Here’s another quote – one that I still find can be quite provocative:
The successful person in the art of living makes little distinction between their work and their play… they simply pursue their vision of excellence in whatever they do, leaving others to decide whether they are working or playing. To them, they are always doing both.