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Being social

By nature I am an introvert. I don’t schmooze. I don’t “network”. Like Sartre, I am firmly in the “Hell is other people” camp. However, since social and collaborative computing is large part of what we work on at IBM, and we’ve recently signed deals with LinkedIn and Skype, I’ve decided to jump in with both feet and see what value these and other social networking and communication services have to offer.

Certainly, within IBM, I’m constantly typing into Sametime. I wouldn’t be surprised if I exchange more internal information, counted by characters, in instant messages, than I do in emails. However, in my external communications, both professional and personal, it is almost entirely via email for 1-to1 communications, and this blog for broadcasts. I’d like to experiment a bit and see what other tools and services are effective. This isn’t a long term commitment to being social, but a experiement. We’ll see how it goes.

So, I’ve put up my contact information for various social sites on my Who is Rob Weir? page. Feel free to contact me via these services. Also, I’d be interested in what other services you think I should be looking at.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Chris Ward 2009/03/01, 7:12 am

    I didn’t realise … but it sounds good.

    As a developer on the ‘research’ end of the business, I could do with better informal contacts with guys/gals in the ‘marketing’ and ‘selling’ parts of the business.

    We are each necessary to the success and growth of the business as a whole. But I feel that communications (in both directions) are often misunderstood.

    The way I understand it, if Marketing want to come raid Labs for any asset we possess, they are welcome to do so and the management proposition is ‘If it moves the business forward, then get on and do it’.

    Ask management permission before ‘betting the farm’, but otherwise go ahead.

  • Rob 2009/03/01, 11:20 am

    Hi Chris,

    The intra-corporation aspects of this are fascinating as well. I remember, 25 years ago, when the typical IBM GM sat at a big desk behind a big wooden doors, with an executive secretary who herself was protected by a set of big glass doors. Anyone who wanted to get close had to get past the doors, past the secretaries and required both an appointment and a tie. Widespread communications were done by postings on the dozens of official notice boards in the halls, and by the occasional broadcast over the public address system.

    Put a PC on the GM’s desk with email, and all of a sudden anyone in the company can email them, without going through the secretaries, without an appointment and without a tie. Email was subversive of the hierarchy. Of course, we all adjusted and this is commonplace now and hardly worth reflecting on, except that we repeat this revolution every few years, with IM, with Blogs, with Twitter, etc. It isn’t just within the company any more. The disintermediation of communications stretches now to customers, suppliers, the media, analysts, potentially even stockholders. There is a lot of potential danger here, as well as a lot of potential good.

  • Bart Hanssens 2009/03/01, 12:58 pm


    well, I assume the secretary manages the CEO’s mailbox using tailored spam filters, so the doors might still be there :-)

    LinkedIn is great for professional purposes by the way, but my advice would be: choose a limited set of networks and stick with them.

    The problem with social networks is, well, like standards, there are so many of them: linkedin, facebook, netlog, plaxo, windows live, … to name a few.

    In addition of twitter, blogs, your profile on your company’s intranet, sourceforge…

    Add to this the proliferation of chat applications: IRC (and the unlinked IRC-networks), MSN, Yahoo, GoogleTalk, ICQ, Jabber…
    and you’ll end up with the same problems that content/information managers have to tackle.

    So have a great time, but don’t overdo it, it can be much more fun to just get a drink with your neighbor (depends of course on the instance of said object Neighbor, be sure to call isWorthSocializingWith() method first :-)

  • Chris Ward 2009/03/01, 1:57 pm

    I actually wish Marketing (and the GMs) would come and raid Development more often.

    We have some very interesting items in our desk drawers (and under active development), but we don’t know which customers could use them; we don’t know how much more development they need before they are marketable/sellable; and we don’t know what price IBM would put on them (or what brand name they should carry, which of the IBM ‘flags’ they should sail under).

    Nor should we. The Marketing side of the business should decide all those.

    We are getting better; we have Development-scale distribution channels (where the only things missing are the ability to charge the ‘receiver’ a price and promise a warranty); but we maybe don’t use the channels as much as we could.

    How to improve ?

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