Digital hierarchies

IBM is holding a social business jam this week and lots of high profile people are attending. Check the special guest list. If you want to be part of the action you can sign up for free. To contribute you have to set up your profile and put yourself in one of the pre-selected categories like “Social Network Junkie” or “Baby Boomer”. That’s where I stopped. There was no “none of the above” to select and I didn’t like any of the choices. I am not a label.

Image: Jam by Sally

My first foray as a lurker to the jam showed that most of the conversations were around marketing. My idea of social business is working smarter through social learning. Marketing is merely the tip of the iceberg.

The more I thought about this jam, the more I felt that Jaron Lanier was right:

The people who are perhaps the most screwed by open culture are the middle classes of intellectual and cultural creation.  The freelance studio musician, the stringer selling reports to newspapers from warzones are both crucial contributors to culture. Each pays dues and devotes years to honing a craft. They used to live off the trickle down effects of the old system, and like the middle class at large, they are precious. They get nothing from the new system.

Are we all a bunch of TED wannabe’s looking for some exclusive opportunity to be special? The good news is: you are special. The bad news is: so is everyone else.

The open Web, without special sign-ons or walled gardens or exclusive clubs is where we can co-create the knowledge needed for the 21st century. It has to be open, transparent and easily reproduceable & linkable. If not, we’re just building digital versions of the hierarchies and silos of the 20th century.


Here’s the label where I stopped:

4 Responses to “Digital hierarchies”

  1. Luis Suarez

    Hi Harold! Thanks for putting together the blog post and for sharing those insights! I am a bit puzzled with your first paragraph where you mention the issue about labels… Hummm, not sure, but I went through this Registration link form > and I didn’t have to go through such labelling; in fact, I would, too, feel pretty upset about it, if I did encounter when registering for the event. Can you share a picture of what it looks like and see if I can compare it with the form I have gone through myself? That would be wonderful! I could then pass it on!

    RE: conversations so far being marketing oriented, that may have been the perception in the first couple of hours; 9 hours later I have been having a bunch of conversations on Personal Branding, Informal Learning, Social Learning, Social Software Adoption, Activity Centric Computing, Adaptive Case Management, Observable Work, Leaving a legacy behind, and a bunch of others not much to do with marketing. Maybe time needed to kick in to develop some other interesting conversations …

    Either way, will pass on your comments and get the folks running the Jam to comment on your concerns about the openness of the event; I suspect it’s more down to a scalability issue, but would try to confirm…

    Thanks again for the heads up! And speak to you soon! 🙂 (Hopefully, in the Jam itself ;-))

  2. Harold Jarche

    Thanks, Luis, I’m glad the jam conversations have progressed, but I’ll keep my conversations open to anyone with a browser. No need to register here to read anything 🙂

    I posted a picture of where I stopped.

  3. Luis Suarez

    Hi Harold, you are welcome! Thanks for sharing across that screen shot of what it looks like when setting your profile. This is really weird, because I only need to enter a couple of fields, standard to any regular form, and surely don’t get any details from the screen shot you shared above; I wonder whether we are getting different treatment. Hummm…

    Oh, by the way, you bring in a very good point on the openness for such kinds of events, i.e. massive online collaborative environments over a specific timeline; would love to know how you think would work out on the “open” Web having perhaps thousands of folks using their own blogs; somehow it sounds a whole lot more work just herding cats, don’t you think? Either way, I still think you bring in a *very* good point and hope the Jam organisers take notice; have contacted them already to encourage them to drop by and comment further 🙂


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