Fish, meet Barrel

Matt “No Relation” Moore spotted Tom Davenport’s outburst in HBR Where’s the “Working” in Social Networking?

Tom says

A popular current myth is that social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook are thriving with adults and companies because of their business applications… …But for what purpose do they use them? As far as I can tell it’s almost always social.

Tom makes his bipolar view of the world clear at the end:

Fun is fun, work is work. “Hooking up” does not have a business meaning.

Matt shoots some of the fish in Tom’s barrel, so I might as well join in.

I think it’s fairly daft to suggest that work is not an inherently social activity for most people. Some people seem to enjoy work, shockingly suggesting they may occasionally be having fun doing it.

And I get a lot of my work through my social networks. But maybe Tom only works for people he’s never met or socialised with?

6 thoughts on “Fish, meet Barrel

  1. Ed

    Down here in Bristol, we’re very keen on learning as a social process (rooted in the previous KnowledgeBoard event experiments of 2005/6 and soon to come out as an academic paper) – something not done in isolation, indeed enhanced beyond compare by having others involved.

    *But* – yes – a bunch of people I know consider work and not-work to be entirely separate, and are amazed that I don’t have clear boundaries between the two…

    And yes, I suspect that you will get loads of work out of your social networks – in fact, that’s probably where almost all of it comes from – isn’t that the new consultant-blog-socialnetwork model? Probably isn’t the same if you are in an organisation…

  2. Johnnie Moore

    Ed: Agreed. I think there is some notion that inside organisations what we do is somehow not social; that meetings are just these dry rational things where nothing “social” happens. I’m with Mark Earls, remembering to see them also as gatherings of apes engaging basic, primal social interaction.

  3. patti digh

    I am reminded of a client who wanted us to deliver a keynote on “transforming work relationships.” When we explored the topic further, we realized that in order to transform work relationships, they first needed to value relationship. For many organizations — and the people in them– “relationship” is a bad word, driven to the bottom of that barrel of fishes while “task” floats–almost always–to the top, as if the two could be separated.

  4. Jon Husband

    This is indeed daft on Davenport’s part IMO .. and this opinion from me coming at the tail end of revising a book on knowledge management and knowledge work in lght of the arrival and spread of Web 2.0.

    I am surprised by Davenport’s persective, as i would have expected that he would see that much knowledge is “socially constructed” in the course of exchange, comment, scaffolding of interpretation and meaning, much of which takes place in social networks .. OK, maybe not on Facebook (yet) and no doubt OpenSocial will have something to say about that, but maybe its another case of an expert not liking the new territory ?


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