20 Aug Australian media misleads on social computing
There’s been quite the Twitter and blogosphere conversation about this article in the News Limited papers today on employees wasting time using Facebook (and by inference other social computing tools).
It annoyed me so much, I was compelled to comment on the article on the News website. I was a (fairly lonely) voice of dissent amongst the “fire the Facebook users” comments.
It bugs me no end that the Australian media represent social computing use in a business context (no, actually, social computing generally) in such a negative way. As my peer, Laurel Papworth says on her reaction to the story:
They HATE us. With a passion. Every article about blogs, wikis, Facebook, MySpace and social networks is one about stalkers, paedophiles, time-wasters at work, mis-information, and- God help us – poor grammar/spellingz? Am I missing any other reasons to hate collaborative content? And it’s working – either Web 2.0 technology is belittled as in “ha ha you blog? That’s so funny” or we get Orwellian tones of doom “go on Facebook and you will lose your job, be stalked and be addicted, all by lunch time”.
I couldn’t have said it any better.
The problem is that social computing, as reported in the Australian media is just wrong.
They almost never seek out an active, successful social computing user. They certainly don’t talk to social computing strategists like Laurel and me. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a story in the Australian media about successful , real-world business-centric implementations of social computing tools.
Consequently, the Australian public and business are being fairly significantly misled on the tangible, measurable and real benefits a well-crafted, appropriate social computing strategy can have in business and the personal benefits it can offer people – from doing their job better, to connecting to professional networks, to finding long lost school friends.
I have no argument that there are probably a good percentage of social computing users wasting time at work on Facebook, but you know what, that’s a management issue (so I believe) from a few angles:
- if these people are wasting time rather that getting their work done, they’d find a way to do so whether or not they were using Facebook, MySpace or whatever;
- are these people in fact, underutilised? Do they have enough work to do? And therefore, is it actually a problem of management ability to distribute work rather than individuals goofing off?
- are they using social tools to actually get something done that their employer doesn’t facilitate as identified in the recent Katzenbach Partners report The Informal Organization or using a non-approved tool because their employer doesn’t provide the necessary tools as reported by Yankee Group in their report Zen and the Art of Rogue Employee Management?
Just once, I’d love a journalist talking about social computing to call me and ask a few questions. I’d be more than happy to give them my time and clear up a few misconceptions.