All things to all people

It was reported that only 2% of social sharing happens on Google Plus (G+). I too, do not share much on G+. I recently posted on G+ that it did not fit in with my professional use of social media, even though discussions are often fun, interesting, and informative. That G+ post I made now has 52 comments, more than any post on this blog has had.

In that post, Jeff Roach described G+ as “a network that looks like Facebook (media rich) but functions more like twitter (streams etc) but is more friendly to conversations and sharing than both of them.” Joachim Stroh suggested that I create a community on G+ but I countered that I preferred to cooperate in the open, not in another social media walled garden:

I think one of the problems today is that many online social networks are trying to be communities of practice. But to be a community of practice, there has to be something to practice. One social network, mine, is enough for me. How I manage the connections is also up to me. In some cases I will follow a blogger, in others I will connect via Google Plus or Twitter, but from my perspective it is one network, with varying types of connections. Jumping into someone else’s bounded social network/community only makes sense if I have an objective. If not, I’ll keep cooperating out in the open.

Nollind Whachel then weighed-in with several thoughtful comments and Joachim Stroh continued to engage. I stood on the sidelines, and a few others added comments, including one commentator unknown to me who felt I was being unprofessional because I did not understand G+. By the way, all of my G+ posts have been public, so anyone can jump in.

Nollind provided a good way to describe the sense-making process in these online social networks:

Connect = producing content
Empower = making sense of content patterns
Inspire = leap of logic, the patterns form a story, you see the bigger picture

Joachim made an interesting subsequent comment:

So, I’m still looking for the connection to go from unstructured to structured content, without doing a lot of curation. It’s not easy if you are doing this on your own (as you describe), it’s almost impossible to do this collectively (without a CM role).

Nollind added an emergent thought, that I think is important, and is partially what this blog post is all about:

Hmm, just had an interesting thought. It actually may be easier to do the writing and sense making within one community and then do the outlining and structuring in another community.

My interest in all of this comes down to PKM, and so far, G+ is a mere extension of my PKM processes. Perhaps it could be more, but I strongly believe in the centrality of my blog, which I own and control. I am not ready to give that to Google or any other third party. Nollind also made an excellent comparison of my PKM framework with his own methodology,

Seek = Connect = Play
Sense = Empower = Learn
Share = Inspire = Work

At this time, G+ provides a nice place for deep discussions with people who probably would not post as much on my blog and would be throttled by Twitter’s 140 character limit. I know that others use it much more, adding tags to make search and retrieval easier, and engaging with communities. G+ does add to my weak & diverse ties and even enables the sharing of complex knowledge. Perhaps G+ is trying to be all things to all people, and for those of us with existing PKM processes, that’s just too much.

social ties collaboration cooperationImage: Social Ties for Cooperation & Collaboration

3 Responses to “All things to all people”

  1. Steve Scott

    I like that equality comparison but it feels more “natural” this way:

    Seek + Connect = Play
    Sense + Empower = Learn
    Share + Inspire = Work

    More “synergistic”.

    Sounds like you are reluctant to buy into G+, at least not entirely, but you are getting value from it.

  2. Amir Elion

    Interesting thoughts.
    I, too, have not been able to systematically connect to G+.
    Not sure i can nail down the reason as clear as you state it (walled garden). I think it’s more about connecting to it after I already has well established networks on linkedin, twitter and fb. One moe is just too much to handle right now.

    One note though about the centrality of you blog as you describe it. Obviously it makes sense from the perspective of the P in PKM.
    However, reading this post it felt to me that its about the feeling of ownership of the sense making. Doing that in communities where you have as much or as little control as other members of the discussion means giving up the control and ownership of the sense making. Indeed it may pull the discussion to places that make less sense to you, but in other cases I found it to actually broaden my capability to make sense in just my own walled garden. 🙂


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