ITSinsider is Heading to… Paper.

Early this morning around 3am,  in the throes of insomnia, I finished listening to Ed Snowden’s interview with Kara Swisher. It was one of the many interviews he’s been giving about his new book, “Permanent Record.” Like Swisher, I honed in on his “romantic” attachment to the early Internet and what the space meant to him as a young adolescent, and perhaps what he still thinks it can be today, presumably, if people will just do the right thing and stop using their power for no good.

Oy. Good luck with that. I’m on #TeamSnowden at least in the same way Swisher is. At the very least, he succeeded in ratcheting up my interest in reading his book.

I started the ITSinsider blog in January 2006. To refresh your memories, that was before the first iPhone release. I had no idea what I was going to write about, nor did I have any idea what a blog was or how to do it. I only knew I had to write my way into remaking a career for myself after being a stay-at-home Mom for five years. Being out of the technology field for five years was like being in a cave for 50 years. The catch-up factor was ~10x. I struggled to become relevant in those early days. But, eventually I did. It’s amusing to read how I did that in the early entries on this blog.*

I found my footing in the dawn of the web 2.0 phenomenon that morphed into the “enterprise 2.0” movement. I’d like to think I helped shape that movement. Like the young Snowden, I had an idealistic, altruistic belief in the goodness of decent people to share and collaborate for a better world.  I encouraged hundreds of corporate professionals to attempt to “#changetheworldFTW.”** In their own ways, they did. I have receipts.

My former colleague and friend, Dion Hinchcliffe, recently presented at a digital workforce conference and announced to his audience that, “For the first time in human history, we are all connected.” And more importantly, he noted this milestone as, “An Unprecedented Power of Incalculable Value.”

I could not agree more with Dion. But maybe not for the same reason. I love seeing the enthusiasm on the social web for all things “digital workplace.” I love seeing my friends making inroads with these revolutionary concepts including collaboration, transparency, trust, and breaking down silos.

From the very beginning, although I believed that these new tools and philosophies would lead to accelerated innovation and profitability, privately I always hoped greater transparency would deliver a greater sense of responsibility. I hoped that as professionals had more views and access into the goings-on of the corporate machine, they’d begin to question upper level management decisions and their personal role in any harm their companies were committing in the pursuit of profit. That twang of guilt is the seed of real systemic change. In this way, I think about Snowden and other whistleblowers who’ve come forward.

More recently, I enjoyed learning that the employees of Facebook are using its social collaboration network, Facebook Workplace, to voice their dissent over the company’s policy to allow false advertising on its platform.

The Internet of 2019 headed into 2020 is a far different place than when I first wrote about it in 1984. The best education that came from those decades of web maturity was not learning about the technology, it was learning about humanity. It revealed who we are. The good, bad, and the ugly.

I’m no longer an “insider” in tech. I’m very much an outsider. I’m grateful to the field of technology for my long-tenured career and the many adventures it afforded me. This blog will now retire and, ironically, turn from 1s and 0s to paper. I will create a volume of books out of the 125K words of this blog, so I have a permanent record of this exciting and important second wave of my career. I’ll put it on my bookshelf and look at it from time to time. Of course, you can buy a copy if you’d like.

Thanks for being a reader these many years. I’ve enjoyed writing for you here. You can find me writing today on Medium and on my personal blog. If you want the brave stuff, I’m writing on Patreon now too. I’m not writing about tech, but I’ll still be writing for many more years to come.

Namaste.


*In reviewing my early posts, I realize I have a lot of men to thank for my comeback in tech. That’s a tough circle to square. I highly recommend every woman in tech my age near retirement read Danah Boyd’s Great Reckoning speech. In the ways I was complicit and aligned with the patriarchy in tech to advance my career, I have regrets. I’m with Danah. Let’s change the norms.

**That’s change the world for the win.  A win for humanity, ‘k guys?

What is Your Network Telling You?

I caught up this week with Cai Kjaer whom I’ve known via the social web as one of the founders of Optimice.  We used Optimice at Change Agents Worldwide to map our core competencies within the network.  I’ve always been a big fan of Social Network Analysis (SNA), and feel we are leaving a lot of actionable information on the table when we don’t observe what is happening organically within our networks.  As just one example, ESN strategists spend a lot of time identifying who might be a good candidate to advocate for working socially, but a lot of this work is anecdotal, and champions are identified via word-of-mouth. Software can do this fairly easily once you map the activity on the network.

crossteamThe Optimice team has launched an analytics tool, SWOOP, that may help large networks reveal intelligence that is not intuitive or otherwise obvious.  The software platform is the result of over a decade’s worth of consulting mapping organizational networks. At present, the team is working with Yammer and Chatter networks, but they have plans to work with more large-scale ESNs.

For large enterprises that view the ESN as the foundation for culture change, quality improvement, and innovation, it’s more or less a no-brainer to employ a tool like SWOOP. Some of the ESNs already have fairly sophisticated analytics, or at least used to, last time I checked.  But Yammer, in particular, has experienced explosive growth now that it’s free with O365, and the analytics are really weak. Something like SWOOP has not been available to its large communities until now, AFAIK.

peeps
The good news around this software is there is a lot of interest in introducing the power of SNA to large enterprises, but there hasn’t been an easy way to do that without expensive, complicated consulting.  With SWOOP, at a low price/seat investment, you can immediately start “listening” to what your network is telling you. The power of SNA becomes more attractive when you can start identifying how your network can save you time and money.  It’s not just eye-candy, in other words. Kjaer likes to say, “Collaboration is a contact sport.” So true. When you can look at connections cross-organizationally, and see data that reflects the role individuals are playing within their groups, you have a guidepost, a key performance indicator of sorts. Moreover, the ESN starts to take advantage of the potential for “emergent” behaviors that got the original Enterprise 2.0 champions so excited. (Myself included.)

I will be watching this area with much interest.  I’ve already got some ideas of how SWOOP can make a difference among some successful ESN customers already.  If you want to give the platform a try, you can sign up for the company’s free benchmarking tool.  I’d love to hear your progress.