I am in Cambridge attending the Social Architecture event sponsored by Corante . Last night we all trooped off to the Degas exhibit at the Sackler and then consumed heroic amounts of alcohol at the Harvard Faculty Club. I had the chance to talk with the man who founded Corante in 2000, Hylton Jolliffe. It’s eerie to talk to about something that is emerging as you speak about it, to know that this conversation next year will be very different from the one you are having this year, not least because of the people in this room.
Now I am in the Ames Courtroom of Austin hall at the Harvard Law School. (The event is co-sponsored by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society here.)
David Weinberger is talking about "social software." He asks that we accept for the purposes of argument that blogging, tagging, wikis, IM, chat, are all types of social software.
Now, he askes, "What do they have in common?"
They are, relatively
low tech (unexpected)
full of individual voices (quite unexpected)
participatory: more memos, more emails
speaking in our own voices
driven by and driving of a new set of values and inclinations::
empowers local knowledge
allows small contacts
encourages symmetrical connections
discourages hierarchical command and control
things David worries about:
(I missed a couple of things here)
will this create a new elite
what I was thinking while listening:
that marketing using social software to listen and perhaps help form the consumer taste and preference to which it must respond will end up making multiple and perhaps messier messages with a faster roll out and take up. It will have to be an interative process, as we work and rework the message, experimented "en pleine air" as it were. (Sorry, that’s the Degas exhibit talking. Degas was worked outside the pleine air tradition. His paintings of relatives examining cotton in an office in New Orleans. Sensational.)
But the problem here is that lots of marketers are white knuckling at the present moment, terrified of anything that is even fractionally off target or noise producing. This is an inclination driven by things in the world of culture that can be changed. But it is also I think probably driven by the street and its demand that we meet our numbers every quarter. There is no leveling in this world, No one says, well, you missed your numbers last quarter but you appear to be making it up for it this quarter.
This external constraint will make it more difficult for marketers to make us of, and enter in to the spirit of, social software.
Thoughts only. Comments please.