Re: Microblogging in the Enterprise? #Yammer #ESN

Andrew Gent <ajgent@...>

[previous comments]

...Many of the vendors have recognized this and are incorporating Twitter like functionality into their collaboration platforms. Some, such as Newsgator integrate with Sharepoint, other such as Manymoon, integrate with Google Apps.

...It'd be great if someone would reverse-engineer the core functionality into SharePoint so we can have micro-blogging functionality in the same collaboration system...

...There is a powerful analogy with Instant Messaging here. Most IM systems are no longer standalone but integrated with email and other communications systems. Microblogging is a technical functionality / human activity that's part of broader set of technical functions & human activities rather than a standalone "thing"

I guess I am the dissenting vote here. Not that I don't think this is the direction the vendors are going -- I agree they are -- but I don't believe that is a good thing. There are two reasons that this is bad for users, both related to the intrinsic value of social software: the "social" component.

There is a strong analogy with IM -- I spend an ungodly amount of time negotiating with people over what IM client to use. (I just went through this again yesterday, by the way, and had to change IM clients once again.) As more and more vendors start implementing "Twitter-like" functionality, the more segmented and Tower of Babel-like the social landscape becomes. This is not so much of a problem with features that are bounded by the corporate firewall (such as office suites are and collaboration may be) or where interoperation standards have been accepted (such as email).

But it is a serious problem when you are talking about lightweight, highly social activities. Although it seems like a good idea to integrate it with your other communication functions, what if it gets integrated differently with two existing functions? What if email and collaboration both integrate microblogging? Unless you have a single vendor for all your apps, you are going to have a conflict.

This problem is exacerbated by the expanding and fluid nature of people's social environment nowadays. (This is the second problem I mentioned.) business and social interactions are mixed and people communicate both socially and business-wise far beyond the corporate boundaries. (e.g. Many of my friends are information architects or writers or engineers as well. We discuss persoanl and business matters interchangeably and this happens outside or across corporate boundaries.) Unfortunately, corporate IT likes to ignore this fact and choose tools for "inside" the firewall as if they operated in a vacuum. As a result I have had to run at least two IM clients for the last 4-5 years so I can keep up with both co-workers and business associates. I currently use Twitter. But I can already see that I may need to do much the same to maintain my microblogging connections in the future...

I am not claiming to know the right answer here. I agree that yet-another-ui is one problem. But it is not solved by creating a situation where you are forced to use 3-4 almost-the-same products. Clearly, interoperability would be ideal. But unlike email, vendor behavior has made that impractical for IM as well as socisl networking and (most likely) wlll do the same for microblogging. And, yes, I know I can (sort of) solve the problem with yet-another-freeware-integrator (friendfeed, etc) or some other geek hackery, but that doesn't solve the problem for the average user.

Well, having said all that, I come off sounding far more negative that I intended. I guess my desire is that corporations (and the consultants that advise them) recognize both the needs for corporate privacy and the much more integrated nature of work/personal interaction in modern life.

Andrew Gent

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