November 21, 2007

Why no hate in Web2.0?

I’ve been recording sessions from the What’s IT all about day today and was very interested in the presentation by Roo Reynolds on metaverses and 3d worlds. All good stuff but I was struck by the relationship diagram that he put up which was a fairly standard affair showing you >> your immediate friends >> your colleagues >> everybody else in concentric circles of connection.

In fact – here it is:

Relationship diagram

Slide is taken from Roo Reynolds’ presentation so be nice to it.

Now, i’ve seen this sort of slide many many times and the following thought struck me:

When talking about Web 2.0 and social media within enterprises presenters only ever map positive relationships – your friends, colleagues and customers.

Nobody ever (to my knowledge) maps negative relationships – enemies, people you don’t like, blockers and naysayers.

And that got me thinking – many advocates and evangelists for this technology map models where workplaces are essentially positive, collaborative and co-operative spaces and I would hazard a guess that many many organisations and teams are just not like that. So, therefore, what is the implication and impact of negative relationships on the dynamic of social networking tools in both the workplace and between organisations and customers.

For example, how does the fact that I don’t get on with X affect my relationship with Y, and does this situation create a tension when trying to achieve objective A and is this tension negated or amplified by the presence of social media tools.

I am trying to work out whether this positive view is something inherent in a certain sort of IT company / silicon valley start up and it’s just not the done thing to plan for bad relationships or whether there is a method of mapping these into the model that allows for the creative management of such tensions.

Anyway, the upshot is that I would be interested to know whether anyone has had a go at expanding this essentially positive view to accommodate the opposing experience.

Hopefully we will have Roo’s presentation up as a podcast shortly – it’s a good listen.

- 5 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Sara Kalvala

    My guess is that one may not want to make explicit and broadcast the negative relationships – privacy is an issue with any of the social networks, and just as in this day and age one is advised to be careful with emails sent in anger one might not want to let information be stored in perpetuity about not getting along with someone!

    22 Nov 2007, 10:29

  2. Roo Reynolds

    Hi Tom. It was nice to meet you in Warwick. I love the idea of antisocial networking, and since you mentioned this yesterday I’ve been adding to my collection of ‘antisocialnetorking’ bookmarks. Most of them are pure parody, but I’m sure there’s something interesting in the idea of dislike, as applied to social graphs. (Just don’t forget that your enemy’s enemy is not necessarily your friend.)

    By the way, the slides and audio from my virtual worlds talk are now online.

    22 Nov 2007, 21:45

  3. Ouroboros

    I have seen one system allow mapping of negative relationships: GameNeverEnding. That social networking site (abandoned in open-beta to allow the developers to focus on building Flickr) allowed a user to designate a number of other users as “enemy”. This was interesting.

    In a similar way, Facebook does allow a relationship to be classed as “used to date” and qualified further as to whether or not “it was good” or “we don’t talk”. The latter hints at negativity.

    What I think we are missing is “one-way” relationships. One might want to describe their relationship to another as “stalker” (I eat where he eats) or “follower” (I read what he writes) or “fanboy” (I drool on myself when he’s in the room); relationships that are not conversational.

    23 Nov 2007, 01:51

  4. Sara – i’m not sure i’m actually talking about physically mapping these things into actual systems – rather that in thinking about the theory and application of such systems to organisations do we consider the role of negative relationships in group dynamics. Advocates for social networking sites tend to focus on the positive and I haven’t seen an analysis of the impact of negative stuff

    Roo – hey there. Those links are pretty sweet. Note that the podcast I recorded has your collapsing IT in it so the world can value your improvisational skillz.

    Ourobros – interesting point about one way relationships although how many are genuinely one way. I think from a professional perspective it would be useful to be able to step back every now an then and analyse relationships that work and those that don’t and see how working patterns could be shifted to make best use of the network around you – route traffic through the efficient systems as it were. I already avoid committees as pointless nodes of delay and irritation and there are certain organisations/individuals who I avoid as I know they just become problems.

    I think i need to learn more about network theory as applied to organisational practice.

    23 Nov 2007, 11:51

  5. Casey

    28 Nov 2007, 12:22

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