While musing about social networks and privacy…..

I’ve been reading a lot, as you would expect. In this context, I would strongly recommend danah boyd’s months-old article on the subject, titled Social Network Sites: Public, Private or What? I was particularly struck by this quote early in the article:

What it means to be public or private is quickly changing before our eyes and we lack the language, social norms, and structures to handle it.

This is as true within the enterprise as it is amongst individuals “outside” the enterprise. Over the years, as we’ve seen a plethora of communications tools, techniques and devices invade the enterprise space, there’s been a corresponding change in the very concepts of privacy and confidentiality, when placed in the enterprise context.

The persistence, archival, retrieval and searchability characteristics that danah refers to is something I’ve been writing about for quite some time, as part of the Four Pillars approach. When I went down the Four Pillars route in 2004-05, I was quite heavily influenced by my working in a regulated industry.

Which is why I find some of the enterprise pushbacks on social networks mildly amusing. Even without the existence of social networks, there has been a gradual move towards openness and transparency in most regulated industries, with the consequent requirement to record and make retrievable all kinds of conversations. Many firms spend large amounts of money doing just that. So why not consider implementing something that looks remarkably like a social network within the enterprise?

More later.

One thought on “While musing about social networks and privacy…..”

  1. Of course you know the answer to this…fear of losing control. When I was a manager of a large division, I always loved transparency because it meant I didn’t have to waste my limited braincells on remembering where all the pieces were on the proverbial chess board. Everyone could just see them. And so the focus was on trying to do smart things with them. Of course when things went wrong – which obviously they did from time to time – I had no clothes. But then again you just have to trust that people will be intelligent and responsible, through thick and thin. And you know what? Surprisingly often they are. And often to the point where others that aren’t just end up looking like asses anyways. But most managers seem to think the best part of their job is the part where they get to boss everyone around, something made easier and more fun when you keep them mostly in the dark.

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