Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending the Nlab Social Networks conference, held at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK. Big congratulations to Sue Thomas and all involved with organising the event. What was particularly great about this conference was the level of networking that took place between sessions. Arguably, we could have done with double the time allowed for coffee and lunch. Unheard of at your average conference…
All the sessions were great but three stood out for me (a.k.a. I took some notes). Here you go:
The Future of Work: Amplified Individuals, Amplified Organisation – Andrea Saveri, The Institute for the Future
Andrea introduced a new term (for me, at least) entering the workplace: Amplified Individuals (perhaps a flavour of AI that will really happen…) Amplified Individuals are highly collaborative, highly improvisational and highly augmented.
Highly Collaborative: Able to tap in to and contribute to the intelligence of crowds. Act as social filters for massive amounts of information (demonstrated in the use of tools such as del.icio.us, Flickr, Diff, Friendfeed etc.) Enable the use of prediction markets (see related blog post: More on idea markets)
Highly Improvisational: Create ad-hoc resources and infrastructures, as and when needed to achieve a specific goal. Have the motivation and know-how to bypass traditional constraints and form new relationships within and across organisational walls. Serena Software are a great example of this, what started with ‘Facebook Friday’ (see related blog post: Web Wisdom) became their new intranet (see recent news: How one CEO Facebooked his company, Fortune)
Highly Augmented: Employ systems, tools and hacks to enhance cognitive abilities and coordination skills (the drug Provigil, aka Modafinil, crops up again).
Amplified Individuals possess Superhero powers for business, including:
- Mob-ability – ability to work in large groups, a talent for organising and collaborating with many people simultaneously
- Influencing – able to be persuasive in multiple social contexts and media spaces
- Ping Quotient – your responsiveness to requests from other people for engagement
- Protovation – fearless innovation in rapid, iterative cycles (i.e. prototype first, discuss requirements later…)
- Multi-capitalism – fluency in working in different capitals: social (reputation), financial, intellectual, natural (green)
- Signal/Noise management – able to filter meaningful information
- Co-operative radar – able to sense, almost intuitively, who would make the best team for a particular task (across employees, partners, customers, etc.)
Bioteams: What we can learn about nature’s social networks – Ken Thompson, Swarmteams Ltd
It’s difficult to describe Ken’s session, because it mostly involved an experiment requiring audience participation. And my inability to use my mobile phone (ruins my Ping Quotient) at anything more than a snail’s pace interrupted note-taking. You can try it for yourself at the Swarmteams web site. It’s an interesting concept. You create a group on a web site. People can then join the group by sending a text message from their mobile with the line ‘join group username’ (e.g. ‘join nlabs joiningdots’). The web site sends out a question, and everyone in the group receives it on their phone and can send a response back, all via text messaging service. (Great, given I have 3 billion unused text messages on my phone contract.) And the web site gathers all the messages together in a single folder. It’s a little like Twitter. And is a great way of organising groups on the fly for a niche event, or to gather feedback on a given subject (i.e. a perfect tool for those Amplified Individuals).
What was most interesting was Ken’s reasoning behind this idea. The use of short instant messages to communicate (or, rather, synchronise) is common place in nature – the bee’s waggle, fireflies flash, ants waft pheromones. Be it motion, or emitting light, sound or smell, most animals have the need and method for instant short-term communication. Humans do too, but few organisations recognise, acknowledge or take advantage of the tools freely available…
If you’re interested in the connection between nature and business, here’s some books I have enjoyed on this subject:
Social Networking beyond the Dogma: Let’s Make Some Money – Jim Benson, Modus Cooperandi
Wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw the title of this session. But Jim delivered some grounded comments about why businesses should be using social networking tools. His use of concept maps, rather than traditional slides, to convey his message was very effective. I’m planning to try something similar when I get the chance (it reminded me of a comment Euan Semple made a couple of years ago, about how the software interface for collecting knowledge should be like walking through a village…) Here’s a sample of what was said:
- Small businesses do not need more stuff to do… but they do need advice, peers, customers and partners, all of which comes from communities
- Communities create value through participation, which takes time
- Time is expensive therefore invest it wisely
- Understand intangibles, which include more clients, future services and business partners
- Employ judgment – in the use of social tools like networking sites and review sites
- Learn – your community, your limit, your market – by experimenting
- Start now – small and directed, what fits immediate needs and your personality
Finally, Steve Clayton did a great kick-off presentation about how Microsoft has approached blogging and social networking. My non-amplified self sulks at giving him links when I’m wallowing in the lower ranks of Technorati 🙂 but his presentation is available online. Multiple hat tips to all the speakers. They delivered some great content and I have captured a mere sound bite of it here. And thank you to everyone I met on the day and have chatted to since on Twitter, some great conversations all around.
And hat tip as always to Wikipedia for assisting with references. (Even if I did have to navigate past the band Fire Flies to locate one of the pages.)
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Filed in Library under: Social Networks
Technorati tags: Social Networks | Social Computing | Collective Intelligence | Smart Mobs