Web 2.0 Blog – Discovering Innovation Opportunities using Social Media

Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0

The wikipedia entry has been updated since I wrote this post and now clearly seems define social media as content. So what about the technology? Can we call it social technology?

Is the technology used to post, read, sharecontent, improve navigation and relevance by making use of user behavior and input, the same as the content generated content itself? Are both of those the same as the interaction of users with that technology?

I looked at the wikipedia entry for social media and it seems to mix these three items (technology,content and interaction). It says:

“Social Media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and “building” of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM).”
Then later it gives examples of “social media applications.”

So based on this, social media is a tool used by consumers to create content, an activity that integrates technology and social interaction AND it is the content generated by the interaction.

I feel it can’t be all three and that this should be clarified to help people understand the evolution of the internet and the new technologies and software. Also it would be useful to distinction those of us who create technology solutions vs those of us who create user interaction strategies for organizations.

I think we should start using the term social technology as:

1. Technology which makes use of input and behavior of the users of the technology to enhance its relevance, usability, content, navigation or function. Often this refers to tools which are used in web 2.0 or social media efforts.

Of course where does that leave the definition of social media? When people talk about social media they seem to be referring to the general methods to display user generated content. For instance “Blogs are social media.” But a blog is a general method to publish and invoke discussion. It is not a specific technology. Let’s do a quick thought experiment to illustrate this. We can imagine a large classroom blackboard being used as the host for a blog whose audience is only meant to be those in the class. An article could be published, comments put up, tags manually updated, and even a separate board if you like to match tags to content. Any blogger would recognize this as an internal blog. We also now have video blogs which users very different technology than text based. Let’s also imagine a pure video blog which uses no text and its tags and searches are audio based.

A text blog, a pure video blog and our blackboard blog share the same methodology to solicit feedback from a community but do not share common technology. So a blog is really a social media method, not a specific piece of technology.

Social media seems to be a collection of methodologies for sharing and discussing information as well as navigating and searching for information. This raises another question which is not covered in the current wikipedia article. Should mining of social media data to improve media experiences such as shopping, searching and giving related information? I think the answer is yes even though this is a substantial bifurcation of social media into its seen and unseen elements. Most people do not realize that google uses the behavior of its users to improve its search but I think google results are a form of social media. Here is the test: If you didn’t have the social input, would you have the results? In google’s case: No. Not the same results at any rate and these results are the reason it has won out in the search engine competition. So in plainer terms, crowdsourced content or ranking of content would also be social media. (I would argue ranking of content is content btw.)

Since I first posted this, Deb Lavoy challenged me that social media is actually what happens when technology enables collaboration. And conversations are simple collaborations. I think she is right, but still in the vernacular most people still refer to the actual methods as social media. We comprised on a slide which gives both. The technology enable collaboration definition seems the most powerful yet the more I think about it.

As for social technology, I really didn’t just make it up. (Well I did but then I found I wasn’t the first by any means.) There seems to be ample precedent both in published books and popular blogs to start use of the term more commonly. Below is a list of references I found which use the phrase:

In the news: A degree in Social Technology See also the school’s site.

Reference Web site
Forrestor Research: The Growth Of Social Technology Adoption

Blogs using social technology as a term:
Social Technology Innovation by Alex Vorbau
The impossible dream – Social Technology
Social Technology
The Pattern of Social Technology Evolution
Leveraging the Future of Social Technology

Books using social technology as a term:
Perverse Incentives: The Neglect of Social Technology in the Public Sector
By Theodore Caplow
Published by Praeger, 1994
Item notes: pbk. : alk. paper
Original from the University of Michigan
Digitized Aug 24, 2007
ISBN 0275949338, 9780275949334

Innovation and Social Process: A National Experiment in Implementing Social Technology
By Louis G. Tornatzky
Contributor Louis G. Tornatzky
Published by Pergamon Press, 1980
ISBN 0080263038, 9780080263038
225 pages

The Social Technology of Organization Development
By Wyatt Warner Burke, Harvey A. Hornstein
Compiled by Wyatt Warner Burke, Harvey A. Hornstein
Published by University Associates, 1972
Original from the University of Michigan
Digitized Mar 21, 2007
ISBN 0883901269, 9780883901267
340 pages

The Social Technology of Applied Research
By Alexander J. Matejko
Published by Sadhna Prakashan, 1975
Original from the University of Michigan
Digitized Feb 6, 2008
194 pages

There does seem to be a competing definition which I found in..

2. Technology which is entirely in the public domain and does not have restraints or restrictions on its use.

I found this in Human Rights & Social Technology: The New War on Discrimination By Rainer Knopff, Thomas Flanagan. I don’t think this is a popular or even solid use of the term and better terms have come to descriptions various public licensing arrangements.

Now to make the case in Wikipedia.. Anybody with me?


I want to thank everyone who came and made this first in our series of workshops a success.

First an error in omission. Jill Foster was not properly announced as the blog-reporter in the audience. Her review of the workshop is at http://solutionsarepower.com. Also I want to thank Gabriel Key, a participant, for setting up a Mostly Plain English group on linked in. Look for “mostly plain english” on linked in to find it.

Of course this was only possible through the support of our sponsor
Enigma Business Solutions and it’s E-learning offering.

Thanks Mayra for taking and posting pics as well.

Now for the workshop.. ok ok… We tried to do a complete overview with examples and did not have time for all 9 activities. In the future we will try to keep focused on solving particular aspects of an issue or on part of the framework, so we have time to dive into it tools and all. We wanted to present an overall strategy this time and see if our audience-centered framework is useful and comments seemed to be in favor of that.

Some comments I want to share..
“Being someone who is of an older generation and lovely Computer literate this was great workshop and was actually a lot to understand everything.”
An early gift from ‘Santa’ who basically summed up our first goal of making this accessible to non techies.

The other goal was to test the audience-centered framework as a way to think about what is needed in a Web 2.0 app. A comment we received on this was..
“Something to really start thinking about ,in web 2.0 world of choice and customized everything it seems critical to always operate with a target audience in tenses in mind.”

Another comment suggested we have a more structred seminar then breakout groups which I think would especially work well when are trying to do an overview.

I welcome any other comments and hope we can continue to improve the methodology and frame work in future workshops.

Again thanks to our speakers as well as Jill. Please feel free to contact them online or off:

Jill Foster
202 203 0255

Mayra Ruiz
slides are available on her LinkedIn profile and at:
Blog: http://www.mayraruiz.com/

Andrew Bates
Slides at http://marketing.networksolutions.com/seminars/

Tony Arko 571-238-6882
Blog: http://www.loudounstats.com/

Ken Fischer
Slides at http://www.clickforhelp.com/Presentations.aspx
Blog: http://web20blog.org/
Linked in:http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenrfischer
Twitter: http://twitter.com/web20blog_org

Remember your first virtual conversation? It was longer ago than you think.

It seems the world is divided into 2 groups, the offliners and onliners. An onliner is someone who is mystified by the online social activity of what we will call the “onliners” and just so we don’t get into too much trouble, we’ll call the rest, the offliners. The onliners, well, you know who you are.

Almost every time I have talked to a group of decisions who are not yet involved in social media, the same sentiment is raised. “I just don’t get why these kids talk about stuff on facebook and are on it so much.”
But you do, don’t you? My parents and their parents grew up engaging their friends through technologically mediated virtual conversations sharing facets of their lives. Yes, they talked on the phone. The facebook wall, flickr page and twitter are augmenting the more traditional virtual phone chats.

So if this is not new, why is it so hard to understand? There must be something different than just a phone cord. I found 7 gaps to getting it.

1. Comfort and acquisition of technology. The multimedia online applications which hop between pic, vid, sms, and walls require time to learn and an initial comfort level with interactive computer applications. We have a world divided between those who can sit down and explore the functions of an application in 15-30 min and those who are still reading the last page of the terms of service and deciding which was their favorite pet.

2. One to many vs One to one. It takes a different way to think about messaging many in a group. The traditional phone conversations usually worked by a grapevine strategy. One person would tell 2, 2 would tell 4 etc and news would get around. Now 1 can tell 2, 20, or 2000 without additional effort. The online tools allow greater amplification of the message, so it can move through a large group more quickly. This seems to have a great effect on how to think about composing the message and its content.

3. Multitasking. I am told by JessieX that this is a generational difference. It seems this can account for younger people feeling perfectly comfortable keeping an eye on the friends, watching for twitter SMSs while chatting on the cell with a very close friend. The still disjointed nature of a lot of the online social scene can be pretty intimidating to those would prefer it just be one site and one device.

4. Virtual vs In person Group Dynamics.
Even when we would talk to a small group in school or other places, it was a different mental process to track these group conversations than it is to think about online conversations. Now who you tell is based on which network they are part of, rather than which physical clique they are a part of. It seems a little different to keep track of a group you see together in person versus a collection of screen names, groups etc. The openness of online conversations seems related to be comfortable or have the confidence to let go of message control.

5. Emotional Involvement through Icons. The excitement we see in onliners from events involving online people though online relationships seems odd. But you did this too.. just through different media. The older generations were taught that TV and radio characters events equaled reality and would get emotionally involved in their fictions. So its not too hard to understand getting emotionally attached to the multimedia though often low-res or iconized internet media.

6. Value of online communities. Onliners value their online reputation and position more offliners and sometimes more than their own offline reputation and position. Achieving a reputation or leadership position or even relationship with many people has become more doable online than offline for many.

7. Living it. A lot of these values or differences seem to only form by living the online social experience. No one is born to live online or for that matter, watch TV. But its something you acquire and learn to equate things you value offline with their online equivalents. So don’t get frustrate if you an offliner and curious, give it a chance. Go step by step, learn a little and live a little online.

I have been struggling on how to think about the Web 2.0 or social media phenomenon. It seems to have taken on its own language now. And I made the mistake in 2007 of trying to explain Web 2.0 using those infectious terms of blog, tweet, follow, friending etc. This tool centered explanation by example, I found, does not work too well among the uninitiated. Besides that, today’s tools will not be tomorrow’s tools but I think there are underlying communication principles which drive the sucess of the current Web 2.0 experience and can be used a guide for future innovations. I also think these guiding elements can help discuss new pure Web 2.0 innovations, but also reveal opportunities to improve more familiar processes in business, government, and non-profits.

In this blog, I want to start a conversation about what is in the audience experience of Web 2.0 solutions have made them so successful among the much sought after consumer audience. I have noticed 5 reoccurring core themes which underlie the recent successful web 2.0 applications and companies.

First let’s talk about the difference between web 2.0 and web 1.0. The use of the internet in the web 1.0 era (which of course was a continuum to 2.0) was to convey information through web sites. The use of Web 2.0 is instead to evoke a response from the audience and turn that initial response into an ongoing engagement or conversation.

The Web 1.0 sites hoped to have the audience do something in response but it turns out evoking a response through simply conveying information on how they should respond is not very effective. Yet that was the hope all along for businesses, government, and nonprofits that by conveying information passively, they would get the audience to behave actively in some way. Even when a response was achieved it did not have a high probability of getting future responses from that same individual.

Web 2.0 has been much more successful at evoking responses and turning initial responses into a longer back and forth or engagement with and among audience members and this is why the tools which use these response-oriented techniques and technologies have become the focus of so much attention.

A good place to start finding opportunities for brick and mortars or more traditional organizations to better evoke a response from and create engagement with their audiences and in general to improve traditional processes is to identify what seem to be the underlying communication principles which drive the success of Web 2.0:

1. Interactivity
Use methods which make it clear and easy how an audience can interact or respond online and give multiple pathways to respond without violating element #4 (revelance). The interactivity must be highly accessible and match the information habits, styles and preferences of the users

2. Connections
Make connections and relationships with real people whether the connections are with people inside an organization or with others in the audience.

3. Outreach and listen to communities.
Think of your audience in terms of communities not demographics and actively outreach to the targeted communities. Communities are interconnected so they are pre-organized for communication to flow them and therefore provide more potential avenues to communicate with people in the community.

4. Relevance.
Provide highly relevant content to the audience. Content should be individualized to the individual’s interests when possible. This should not be confused with providing everything under the sun. Making content overwhelming makes is less relevant not more. Quality not Quantity.

5. Empowerment
Empower the audience whenever possible. People want to be heard and feel heard and wherever possible make a difference.

I know what you are going to say. I missed a lot things which also underlie some if not all sucessful Web 2.0 solutions. Such as the authenticity, social content, a human voice, crowdsourcing, interoperability, the networked audience effect, etc. But for now I want try to dissect what it is in the audience experience which makes social media so compelling. As with all web 2.0, this is up for discussion though. Hope to hear you opinions on this. In future posts, I will attempt to expand on this and discuss how these 5 themes can guide us to create better process in business, government and the non profit spaces.