Thursday, October 13, 2005

MITX: Using Social Computing to Benefit Your Business

From CHEN Veep Randy Wambold...

Recently I attended a presentation organized by MITX, a Boston area organization that CHEN PR sponsors, entitled “Using Social Computing to Benefit Your Business: Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and More.”

It’s a topic of personal interest and also of interest to our firm, as we continue to spend a lot of time thinking about how to use new channels such as these for our clients.

The speakers, two IBM consultants, put forward the idea, hinted at in the title of their presentation, that a defining characteristic of “Web 2.0” -- the next generation of the World Wide Web -- is people as the drivers of computing power. In their belief, new Internet technology is being driven by a particular kind of dialog taking place between people.

This is related to a conversation I’ve had with several colleagues recently about the way in which technology has now become seamlessly integrated with our culture (made up, of course, by people). When I was in college 15 years ago, the only people who used personal computers (other than for word processing purposes) were computer scientists. Fifteen years later of course, you’d be hard pressed to find a 15-year-old who isn’t highly computer- and Internet-proficient.

To the extent that the presenters are right about social computing -- and their argument seems convincing to me -- it’s reason for optimism. The more computers mimic the way we act as humans in our culture, rather than forcing us to think like computers, the more useful and enjoyable our experience with technology is likely to be. More specifically to those of us who are communications professionals, social computing is enabling more, and more effective, communication channels, and that is only good for those of us whose job at the highest level is to get a client’s message to their intended audience.

The speakers included in their presentation a distinction between four types of knowledge that I found intriguing and thought-provoking, so I'll include the shorthand version here:
* Data: Web 1.0, just a whole lot of stuff
* Information: Web 2.0, data that is organized such that it is potentially useful
* Knowledge: Web 2.0? and beyond: Information that a person assimilates and actually uses
* Wisdom: Web x? Knowledge that is not only used, but enlightening

It was good food for thought -- and at 8:00 am, that's all I can ask from a presentation -- it's all that I have to give.

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