Billy Joe Armstrong, Social Computing and Converse All-Stars

by Rob Koplowitz.

Not long ago I was spending a sunny Saturday afternoon watching my son play soccer. Among the group of soccer parents gathered on the sidelines that day was Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day rooting for his son who was playing for the opposing team. Billy Joe was wearing Levi jeans, a t-shirt and black Converse All-Stars. Since I was dressed the same, I asked my daughter Sarah if I was hip like Billy Joe. She explained that just because my 30 year old fashion sense had come back into style it did not make me hip. She also pointed out that use of the word “hip” was very un-hip.  Well, I used to be hip.

This brings me to the exciting new phenomenon of social computing in the enterprise, which like Billy Joe is undeniably cool. However, like Levis and Converse All-Stars, we’ve seen this before. The roots of the internet are in helping geographically and organizationally dispersed teams come together to network, solve problems, generate ideas, etc.  When ARPANET (the precursor to today’s internet) was a mere four node network connecting computers at UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, the University of Utah and the Stanford Research Institute the initial benefit was that these organizations could use the network to work together on building and expanding the network.

Even the “social” part of social computing is nothing new. Let’s face it, long before wikis and blogs were used to satiate our unquenchable thirst for all things Britney Spears, The Well served the same need for The Grateful Dead.

Now the last thing that I want to do here is trivialize the current transformation of today’s internet from a tool for institutional communication and commerce to a forum for group interaction and the individual’s voice. After all, this is a blog posting! In fact, I spend a large portion of each day trying to figure out the effects that this new breed of social computing will have on enterprise computing. This brings me to a few questions:

                Is your organization using social computing tools for business purposes?

                If so, what kind of tools? Blogs? Wikis? Bookmarking? Others?

Are you looking for the big guys (Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, SAP, etc.)  to provide this technology to your organization? Is this an extension of existing collaboration technology? Or is this something where you will look to newer vendors?

Do you have any cools stories to share?

Take a moment to post a response. We could be starting the next internet right here. Yeah, I doubt it too. ; )

STAY TUNED: Research on the topic of social computing in the enterprise is in progress.

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Comments

re: Billy Joe Armstrong, Social Computing and Converse All-Star

Hi Rob, I don't have a cool wiki/blog story, but I do have an annecdote that proves the old adage--there's nothing new under the sun. I remember in 1980s--that's right--the 80s, having a conversation with a mid-level exec at a telco. The exec was bummed out because his business plan had just been shot down. His idea? To set up conference call lines for people (strangers) to dial in and chat about a specific subject. He believed with all his heart that folks just like to talk and reach out and exchange ideas. But the higher-ups said, "nah--bad idea." So much for their chance of becoming millionaires during the first wave of social computing that almost happened two decades ago.