When we started this team, three years ago, most people we talked to hadn’t heard of Facebook or Twitter and associated MySpace, assuming they’d heard of it, with something kids do.
Some people knew LinkedIn and that often helped get the wheels turning about social and how it could benefit work.
It was a lot like 1997 all over again, when the Internet’s best use cases for work began to gather momentum.
By 2000, every company had an external website and most also had internal ones.
The same is true for social; now three years later, seems like everyone tweets and facebooks, but I don’t feel like the work use cases have kept the pace.
I stated before that the best use cases have yet to be discovered, but it’s not happening as quickly as I expected.
Why? I suspect the firehose of information that comes out of Twitter and Facebook and n number of other sources has people completely overcommitted. Like Rich observed, we all try too hard to stay informed, which inevitably leads to backlash.
So, when you ask people to use something new or try this or that new product, they cry uncle.
This over-information problem is actually hampering innovation because the domain experts who would tinker with new product and apply their expertise to discover new use cases are already buried in email, feeds and half a dozen other tools they use to communicate and stay informed.
I’ve seen this lead to a new type of trolling, which manifests as continual griping about the lack of business use cases for social technologies.
A bit ironic, since presumably the person is too busy to discover use cases, but is not to busy to complain about how they are missing.
It’s a shame too. Facebook has more than 400 million users. Twitter is nearing 10 billion tweets.
And yet, the people using these services are too busy to apply what they like about social to their everyday work.
Maybe it’s going to take something like Google Wave to pave the way for efficient and useful collaboration first, or maybe existing tools like email, IM and content management are too deeply entrenched.
Or am I way off base thinking that innovation is being squeezed by a glut of information?
What do you think? Find the comments.
Update: Shortly after publishing, I realized I covered a similar angle a few years back in a post called “Too Busy to Innovate“. Since then, the load of information has gotten twice or thrice as heavy.
Too much information is a real problem for innovation, even innovation that would help control and filter the information suffers.