Friday, October 16, 2009

Social Networkers Shall Inherit the Earth

Social networkers are changing established patterns of communication. Who knows? After all these years, maybe the meek will finally inherit the earth. Did someone say paradigm shift?


The current generation of social networkers grew up mouse padding, YouTubing, and text messaging on diminutive cell phones.


When they went to elementary school, their classrooms stressed peer leadership, which may have been a function of increased class size but like Darwin’s theory of evolution, there it was nonetheless.


Social networking is changing the way people relate from a top-down bureaucratic model born on the assembly lines of the 19th century to the peer model of the Information Age. Developing software and applications and technology requires that people exchange ideas. It requires social networking.


I speak as one who has spent the major portion of her working hours warehoused in various bureaucracies except for a brief stint in the dot.com industry.


The real gift of the dot.com days, IMHO, was not about stock options, but in serving as a hot house for developing new working relationships, a harbinger of social networking.


After years of occupying a cubicle as a technical writer for the offices of engineering, banking, and government firms, I was suddenly asked to speak up and participate, and not just dully nod my head in response to the latest administrative bulletin, which had arrived through interoffice mail in an ugly envelope.


At our team meetings, everyone who sat around the table was expected to generously pipe in at the appropriate moment with suggestions based on our area of expertise. One person wasn't supposed to have all the answers. Each of us were that answer.


Driven to release a new product had the net effect of wiping out years of in-bred hierarchical instinct and replacing it, or at least advancing the notion that collaboration, proven by many managerial theorists whose work had been adopted overseas in countries like Japan, was an alternate way of organizing the workforce.


For roughly five years, from 1995 to 2000, collaboration became a new craze, motivated by profit itself and not by the desire of some soft-hearted sixties refugee like myself who yearned for a more humane way of working.


So what if there wasn't a sound business plan developed by a person who understood a profit and loss sheet? That was a mere detail. So what if venture capitalists were unable to recoup their initial investment? Something more was at stake.


Although the dot.com era fizzled out in an explosion of overpriced technology stock, one thing remained clear: there was no one right answer, there was only a team.


Social networkers are that team with a model that seeks to replace the hierarchy of top-down communication.



Lenore Weiss
http://techtabletalk.posterous.com/







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