Facebook, Social Networking and the Duo Core Generation

With so much said and done about social networking sites, there’s bound to be uses and abuses of them.

Indeed, the use of social networking in the workplace is regarded as being controversial, with many having their say and questions about it. You can read some of the views at: Kit Kai’s Tech Blog; Web 2.0 and its impact on 21st Century; Scaling the Social Web, and more.

Young people tend to use social networking sites to keep in touch with their friends and enlarge their social circles. Some use it as a way to suss out potential mates, check out the competition, entertain their friends, and themselves, etc.

While there’s nothing wrong with that, what’s making employers and companies fret is that many of the employees are spending too much time working on their Facebook profiles, checking out how many people have invited them to be friends, or throwing sheep at each other!

According to a Straits Times article entitled “We’re (net)working”, $390 million is lost a day due to loss of productivity caused by cyber-loafing. You say network, I say notwork? While employees may be tapping away at their keyboards, they may not be engaging in any productive office work. They say that employees are getting distracted by MSN messages and pop-ups, etc.

This has actually led to some companies banning and blocking the use of such social networking sites.

Not only are companies concerned about the loss of productivity, they are also concerned that certain company trade secrets and practices may be knowingly or unknowingly revealed to outsiders. This is pretty much like the concern with employees blogging about work.

But is this the way to go? Perhaps companies need to know that they are dealing with a new breed of digital natives and going online to blog and network is part and parcel of their lives. And I have a new term for the new generation of digital natives. It’s “Duo Core generation” with duo core brains which seem to allow digital natives to process separate tasks independently.

Perhaps instead of trying to beat them, some companies have tried to join them. One example is IBM.  IBM warms to social networking and has started using IBM’s Lotus Connections which allows the whole company to engage and network. IBM staff write blogs and keep wikis and make use of social networking software to keep in the loop, thus creating a sense of one giant community.

Some other uses for Web 2.0 technologies in the workplace could be corporate wikis where the collective information and intelligence of staff could be stored and referenced, as well as company blogs that could clue newcomers in on company FAQs and the company culture and the like. Project blogs and wikis could be another collaborative space for working on team projects. It depends on the creativity of the company as well. Perhaps staff could suggest more ways that companies could use such Web 2.0 technologies more effectively in the workplace.

If you wish to read up on more ideas and/or contribute your ideas, there’s a useful site that let’s you do just that: http://www.blog4biz.sg/index.htm. Of course, you care also most welcome to comment on Blogscapes!


Facebook – facing up to Facebook

I’d been resisting it – received invitations from people I didn’t really know or perhaps could not remember – invitations to become their friend in Facebook. I had resisted it, and simply deleted the email messages.

But I finally succumbed. And all in the name of education and research! After all, with so much written and said about the new social networking site, how could I, as a self-respecting educator, much less one who’s exploring new media, not know Facebook? I mean, it only has 34 million users across the globe (according to Wikipedia), with the number rising everyday. Anyway, like I’ve said, it’s all in the name of research.

So, what is Facebook and how did it start? It”s all very much Web 2.0, with the creator wanting to have something to help people communicate and keep in touch and keep up with each others’ lives. If you look at the log in page, it looks innocently simple and inviting. It says, “Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you.” It goes on to add

Everyone can use Facebook —

And how true, with reports showing that Facebook is now being used not just by the young digital natives, but by many young-at-heart digital immigrants too.

According to Wikipedia’s info on Facebook and its history, its famous creator, Mark Zuckerberg, launched it in Feb 2004 for Harvard students, but its use quickly spread and now it seems, everyone’s on Facebook.

The site is so successful that Yahoo made a bid for it to no avail. Recently, there was talk that Microsoft also made a bid for it, to no avail. Looks like either Mark Zuckerberg is so naively idealistic and passionate about his site, so much so that he quit Harvard to run it, or he’s one astute technoprenuer holding out for the best bid to make him one of the youngest billionaires around.

In any case, my initial use of Facebook was pretty ho-hum. So I created my profile and invited some friends to join in. Some did and some didn’t (“Why? Email not good enough?” asked one of them.) But over the days, I’ve discovered how convenient it really is to keep in touch! Due to the interactive and interconnected nature of Facebook, I’ve been able to keep in touch with old friends and colleagues who had kept in touch with others, and so the network grows.

It’s a pretty cool way to keep up with your friends. I say friends, as frankly, all that adding of people just to up your social circle numbers is just sad. It’s not the quantity but the quality that really matters.

But I’ve heard of how people have used Facebook in pretty interesting ways – to check up on potential boyfriends/girlfriends/bosses/exployees/room mates, etc. Which also highlights an important consideration. Be careful of what you post online. More importantly, be careful of what others post about you online – like what they scrawl on your Facebook walls, and all. But then again, can you really control what they say and write?