Andrew Pollack's Blog

Technology, Family, Entertainment, Politics, and Random Noise

Can Software be Too Social to Succeed?

By Andrew Pollack on 02/03/2013 at 06:01 PM EST

There’s no question that “Social Software” is the big push right now. I keep seeing advertisements and slogans that claim email isn’t “Social” enough and that the more you share the better. Users, however, seem to like email quite a bit and are proving extremely resistant to switching. Why is that?

I suggest that it’s a social problem. It’s true that it is human nature to work together to get a common result, and we’re at our best when collaborate. That isn’t the whole story, however. Humans do need collaboration, but we also need privacy. We work together, but we’re also competitive.

I believe the biggest problem with most of the current attempts at “Social Software” for business is that they push us to be more collaborative, more open, and more trusting than we’re comfortable with. There’s a terrific parallel with the video phone.

As early as the 1950’s, AT&T had proven that video calls were entirely possible. There were many test video phones built and there were plans to sell this service nationally. These phones never took off, and anyone who has ever done a video chat on the internet knows why. It’s all well and good if you can pick and choose who you allow to see you with the camera and when, but the idea of immediate unscheduled video chatting with our coworkers and clients leaves us very cold. It exposes us too much when we’re not ready to be exposed. It’s no longer about relaxing with our friends. It’s about exposing ourselves to our potential competitors, our detractors, people we have to work with but don’t necessarily trust.

When we collaborate today, using the traditional method of sending around documents by email or putting them on a shared file system when we’re ready, we remain in control over when our work is visible to others. Nobody gets to see the mistakes we fix as we edit the document prior to sending it out. Nobody sees how long it takes us to come up with the right phrasing. Nobody sees the rough draft, where we expose our opinions a bit more strongly than we want to reflect in the final draft.

When “Collaborative Software” starts getting into live, real-time, multi-person editing we give up all that control. We suddenly have the pressure of everyone watching what we type, seeing every backspace and misspelling, reading every sentence that we would otherwise end up deleting as too strong a few minutes later. Our potential competitors even see how long it takes us to come up with our work product. If our finished document can be considered our “public appearance”, then real time collaboration on that document is akin to standing naked before our peers without the benefit of clothing or cosmetics to change what we know about ourselves into what we desire others to know about us.

The same problem holds true with streams and scheduling. Where with email we can address our work in the time that makes sense to us, asynchronously applying ourselves based on when we’re ready to do work; streams and real time collaborative tools force us out of that protected cover, exposing us to ever more pressure to respond quickly but perfectly.

If “Social Software” is going to succeed, it is going to have to find a way to allow us to continue to be ourselves, complete with the flaws we all have. It’s going to have to respect our competitiveness, our desire to present the version of ourselves we want the world to see even if that doesn’t necessarily get reflected in the first draft.


There are  - loading -  comments....

re: Can Software be Too Social to Succeed?By Graham Dodge on 02/04/2013 at 05:24 PM EST
1
re: Can Software be Too Social to Succeed?By Graham Dodge on 02/04/2013 at 05:26 PM EST
Hmmm ... that was supposed to be " 1" ... as in "I agree with what you say".
SOmething ate the plus sign along the way.
re: Can Software be Too Social to Succeed?By Andrew Pollack on 02/04/2013 at 05:53 PM EST
The anti-spam, anti-cross site scripting code doesn't let special characters
come through. I'm not sure why the plus sign isn't allowed. Maybe I was
trying to prevent people from adding in modem escape sequences. Yeah, I'm that
old.


Other Recent Stories...

  1. 03/26/2019Undestanding how OAUTH scopes will bring the concept of APPS to your Domino serverWhile a full description of OATH is way beyond what I can do in this quick blog entry, I wanted to talk a bit about how "SCOPES" interact with the already rich authorization model used by Domino. Thanks to the fantastic work by John Curtis and his team, the node.js integration with Domino is going to be getting a rich security model. What we know is that a user's authorizations will be respected through the node.js application to the Domino server -- including reader names, ACLs, Roles, and so on. The way ...... 
  2. 02/05/2019Toro Yard Equipment - Not really a premium brand as far as I am concernedDear Toro Customer Service, I arm writing about the following machine: Toro Power Max 1120 OXEModel:38654S/N:31000#### Specifically, bearing part #:63-3450 This is the part ($15 online / $25 at the local dealer) that caused me to raise my objections on-line. This piece of garbage is supposed to be a bearing. It carries the shaft which drives both stages of the auger. The shaft passes through the bearing (which is what bearings do) after the auger drive pulley as the shaft goes through the back (engine ...... 
  3. 10/08/2018Will you be at the NYC Launch Event for HCL Domino v10 -- Find me!Come find me in NYC on Wednesday at the Launch Event if you're there. I really do want to talk to ...... 
  4. 09/04/2018With two big projects on hold, I suddenly find myself very available for new short and long term projects.  
  5. 07/13/2018Who is HCL and why is it a good thing that they are now the ones behind Notes and Domino? 
  6. 03/21/2018Domino Apps on IOS is a Game Changer. Quit holding back. 
  7. 02/15/2018Andrew’s Proposed Gun Laws 
  8. 05/05/2016Is the growing social-sourced economy the modern back door into socialism? 
  9. 04/20/2016Want to be whitelisted? Here are some sensible rules for web site advertising 
  10. 12/30/2015Fantastic new series on Syfy called “The Expanse” – for people who love traditional science fiction 
Click here for more articles.....


pen icon Comment Entry
Subject
Your Name
Homepage
*Your Email
* Your email address is required, but not displayed.
 
Your thoughts....
 
Remember Me  

Please wait while your document is saved.