Clay Shirky at Gartner Symposium

This past week I heard Clay Shirky speak at one the keynotes at the Gartner Symposium. Here are some of the thoughts that he shared:

  1. Business is changing due to social media. Social media is about everything, not just business.
  2. People and machines and companies are intertwined and the lines are blurring. He told funny stories of individuals being upset with a bank’s new policy and fees and starting a grassroots campaign on Facebook critical of the policy and the bank then reverting the policy back.  Unhappy customers in the past could complain but now they can coordinate their campaigns and complaints.
  3. This is both a threat and an opportunity!
  4. Business needs to understand that in the past communications were between individuals and the company. Now it is between all parties simultaneously. The network and connection possibilities are huge.
  5. Access to information has changed in regards to amount, availability, speed and cost.
  6. Amateur public speech is now real and powerful.
  7. Individuals can network and form groups locally or around the world.

The impact on IT is huge and IT needs to recognize that social networks and media are being dragged and carried into the workplace.  IT needs to figure this out proactively, as many firms are doing. He told the story of the DARPA challenge to find 10 red balloons deployed around the country and how people at MIT solved the problem by attacking it with brillant social network thinking.

The idea of cognitive surplus being harnessed to solve problems was terrific. He told funny stories about blog policies at companies the amount of time spent on wikipedia vs tv and a funny story about a reusable camera sold by a drug store. Good stuff.

He closed by saying the companies can likely find out more about the drinking habits of their employees than their work habits.

Lots to consider. I’ve not read his book yet, but will soon.

2 thoughts on “Clay Shirky at Gartner Symposium”

  1. Mark, we’re just now making a dent in social networking where I work but social media has had a huge impact on my personal life. I live in California and my family and high school friends live in Georgia. I went back for my 10th H.S. reunion but had little in common with my friends. I tried again on the 20th but it was not a fun event for me. I skipped the 30th but a few years ago many of us started connecting through Facebook. Three weeks ago I attended my 40th H.S. reunion and it was a lot of fun thanks to the fact that I have gotten to know my childhood friends again. Without Facebook or something like it, I probably would have skipped the reunion again. I didn’t learn much about their drinking habits but I did learn a lot about their lives and my life is richer for getting to know them again.

    I agree that the coming years will see massive changes in the way employees interact with each other thanks to the enterprise social networking tools that are still in their infancy.

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