Friday, September 2, 2011

Social Communities and Collisions of Culture

Like the phrase Web 2.0, the term Social is a loaded term with some room for interpretation.   In a world where everyone is tethered with an IP address at all times, it becomes relatively easy to communicate with anyone, anywhere, at any time.

In the old days, like the early 1990s (well, pre 1990), email was pretty standard, but it was typically transmitted over modems that connected to various service providers and then blasted out, and took in, the mail packages for that period.  In this semi-connected world, email made sense – and so did a plain old telephone call.  This is probably what we refer to as the early Internet era.

In the next transition, most companies became constantly tethered to a service provider and simultaneously deployed internal networks throughout their organization.  Here, the organization had a pretty stable collection of IP addresses, employees had internally assigned IP addresses, and folks could easily connect within, and across, organizations.  This may broadly defined the Internet boom and bubble of the late 90s – extending through web 2.0.

In this new phase, everyone is tethered with an IP address at all times.  Typically, most people have more than one IP address – one for work, one for a work phone, one for a personal phone, and one for their home.  My 8th grader has a phone that essentially provides him with an IP address at all times.  At most times during the day, most folks probably have at least two, or possibly three totally different IP addresses that they can use to communicate.  This tethering, and multi-tethering of IP addresses providing an inherently personal experience is what I consider social.

So, Social may be thought of a ubiquitous access to either one, or two, IP connections.  This connection, or collection of connections, provides access to both a personal community and a professional community – active and available at all times.  Applications are then pushed to various end-points (mobile, desktop, tablet, etc) to bridge these various social and personal communities.  Currently, this explosion seems have focused on connecting (or reconnecting) fundamentally personal relationships and personal communities (i.e. friends from high school, colleagues from previous companies, classmates).

It is interesting to imagine what happens when we experience a collision of these various communities and networks – read differently, a collision of cultures.  What takes place when the personal community collides with the corporate community – both operating in real-time?  Does one fracture or absorb the other?  What happens when the communities within a corporation are extended, or possible relocated, and placed into a personal or social space?  How are new channels created in the corporate community to absorb, mine, and manage the personal networks that are developing in the social landscape?  In this ‘post social’ space, these networks of networks collide, transform, are managed, created, and potentially shift from corporate, to social, and back again.