Networks, Complexity, and Relatedness
Inquiry and learning into social networks, organizational network analysis, and the relationships among people and systems in complex organizations and networks.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Network Complexity and Relatedness - Moved

Hello, Dear Readers,

This blog has moved, permanently, to Please change your readers and subscription services to this new address.

My new website is not completely prettified yet, but I needed to make the move to WordPress sooner rather than later as Blogger changed its publishing protocols and it was just time ...

Thank you all who have been readers in the past, and I hope that you will continue to follow me.

best regards,

/patti anklam

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Fourth SM: Personal SM

You'll need to go to my blog's new home to read about the Fourth SM:

Please change your RSS readers to point to: !

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Third SM: Enterprise SM

The use of social media in the enterprise is, of course the playing field articulated by Andrew McAfee as Enterprise 2.0, first in his seminal article and then in his great book. He nicely captured the adoption of web 2.0 tools within the bounds of organizations. I think of the trajectory from the introduction of the tools on the web to the current state as follows:

Trajectory for e2.0

I think of social media as both:
  • Web-based technologies that shift focus from content to conversation, from publishing to interacting, and
  • Technologies and practices embedded in a web of relationships
This trajectory suggests, I hope, the reality of Clay Shirky's comment:
One consistently surprising aspect of social software is that it is impossible to predict in advance all of the social dynamics it will create.
He was speaking of the changes in models for interaction and community that he describes in Here Comes Everybody, but I think this is also true of the changes in business dynamics. These have been nicely captured -- in the flow, as it were, by Stowe Boyd, who is convening Social Business Edge: Operating Manual for 21st Century Business in New York City next Monday. I'm excited about the event, and will be writing about it.

So what does it mean, exactly, that companies are adopting "web 2.0 practices?" There are some interesting answers from recent market research by Information Architected (Carl Frappaolo and Dan Keldsen) for the 2.0 Adoption Council. Responding to the question, "What are the business drivers behind your Enterprise 2.0 initiative?" the top five answers were:
  • Connecting colleagues across teams and geographies
  • Enabling access to subject experts
  • Increasing productivity
  • Capturing and retaining institutional knowledge
  • Fostering innovation
If you have been around the knowledge management community for more than five years, these should all resonate with you as some of the key value propositions for knowledge management initiatives. This shouldn't be a surprise. Knowledge management people have always been quick to try out and integrate emerging technologies into their practice. I would not be surprised if many members of the 2.0 Adoption Council (which won't let me in, hélas, because I'm a mere consultant) have roots in KM. This would, of course, be the 1st KM: Big KM.

But this 3rd SM is altering the face of knowledge management. I've written before about the evolution of KM, including this framework:

KM: The Three Generations

And so here we are, where the twist is that social media have, in fact, provided the conditions for enabling action, but this has come about with a focus that I did foresee when I first created this chart in 2005. That is, the locus of knowledge is not just in the network, it's in the conversations in the network. Content is no longer king. Social media has made it all about the conversations.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Second SM: Customer SM

Two years ago, I was invited to deliver a keynote about net work at a conference called "Community 2.0." Immersed as I have been for almost two decades in the work of communities of practice and networks, I expected to hear from and meet practitioners like myself.

Instead, this conference was one of the first of its kind, I think, to address what I am now called the 2nd SM: Customer Social Media. I realized quickly that I had entered new (for me) territory. The pre-conference boot camp, led by colleague Kathleen Gilroy and Sylvia Marino covered the basics of building online communities -- customer communities. Although there was content (and vendors) dealing with both customer communities and my 3rd SM (Enterprise SM), it was clearly more focused on working with customer communities.

...Groundswell had just been published; Charlene Li also keynoted some of the key topics from that book, including the social technographic ladder as a strategic tool for engaging customers.

...Twitter was just barely coming of age at this conference, as were many of the themes that have become predominant in this growing field of business and expertise.

...Nancy White (whom I was thrilled to meet f2f, finally, and have to hang out with) created a visual history of communities

...Francois Gossieaux talked about the preliminary results of the 2008 Tribalization of Business study, another eye-opener for me into what was happening on the customer side of communities and social media

...I blogged more details from this conference on my AppGap blog, here and here.

Today, I think of customer SM as the set of Internet tools and applications that are driven by companies' needs to control their brand, be responsive to customer needs, listen to the marketplace, and develop new products based on customers' original ideas and feedback. Just a few weeks ago, I came across Altimeter's Social CRM: The New Rules of Relationship Management, which is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the many ways that social media have altered business practices. The cases are divided into six areas:

  • Marketing

  • Sales

  • Service and support

  • Innovation

  • Collaboration

  • Customer experience

Each of these has two or more cases, each identified and clarified with real, live cases.

I particularly liked this quote from Paul Greenberg that opens the report:
Social CRM focuses on engaging the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It’s (i.e. Social CRM is) the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.

This puts the emphasis on conversation, which is in so many ways the social in social media.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Four SMs: Media SM

Last year I wrote a short series of blogs on the AppGap called the "3 KMs:" Big KM, Little KM, and Personal KM. I had made this set of distinction in preparing a talk for people who had no prior exposure to knowledge management, as a way of positioning for them the different ways that people think about KM. It turned out that a number of people found this set of distinctions useful.

Over the past two or three years, I've been mulling the way that the term social media is used in a variety of contexts, in which the same terms are used as if interchangeable but are really not. I started putting some definitions around social terms in this blog recently (see Socializing), and then I was asked to give a talk about "social media" for a client (this is available on SlideShare). That was the opportunity I needed to break out the distinctions in social media.

I am starting with the "4 SMs":
  • Media SM
  • Customer SM
  • Enterprise SM
  • Personal SM
Each of these distinctions comprises a different context in which the tools of social computing are used; but in all contexts the use of social tools has shifted forever the relationships to a focus on conversation over the presentation and consumption of content.

Today, I'll summarize the Media SM, and move on to the other SMs over the next few days. During this time I'll also be mulling (and hoping for your ideas) on the shadowy "5th" SM -- the networked, community, purposeful use of social media to bind networks, causes, and events. I just don't have a name for it yet.

Media SM

We first started thinking about social media at the advent of the age of the blogger. Beginning in 1994, news, commentary, and opinions were no longer the exclusive purview of the traditional, established "media" who were using the web to re-publish their static pieces. Clay Shirky describes the phenomenon of the independent, blog-based information media as "mass amateurization."

I see the Huffington Post (launched in May 2005) as the, uh, poster child, for the professionalization of the blog as a news and commentary platform, though the established media have done well in catching up and incorporating comments and conversations within the context of their opinion pages. (The New York Times can boast having 22 of the top 50 newspaper blogs.)

Mass amatuerization extends to the reporting of news; "citizen journalists" play an important role in both large and local events. I understand these things to be true, though I am not expert in the history of the socialization of the press. Nor am I an active participant in the side of the blogosphere that deals with the news of the day. I might spend more time doing some research to fill out these points if (1) this was a topic for which I had passion or (2) if it were not such a sunny and beautiful spring day.

But there it is, the first SM: media SM, or the transformation/socialization of "media."

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Dear Ada

I'm late, but haven't forgotten my pledge to blog on Ada Lovelace day! I did include, in a talk that I gave this morning on social media, and to wish everyone a merry. I included the image above in my preso.

This year, I'd like to honor my own cohort in technology, and the many women I've worked with on the "support and services" side of technology. As many of you may know, I began my career in technology as a technical editor at IBM. IBM sent me to programming school in the 706 building in Poughkeepsie, New York, for a total of 24 weeks one long winter many years ago. On completion of my training in software programming, I was offered a choice of jobs: as a programmer, or as a writer. The programming manager was really up front: the job he had was pretty boring, nuts and bolts stuff. The writing manager offered me the opportunity to develop users' guides and to put my stamp on how I thought technical writing should be done. Guess you know which path I took. (Well, I did do some engineering later on, but only to advance technologies in support of producing higher-quality documents.)

And I never looked back, even though I continued to work in an industry that valued the "real engineers" over those those who made the engineering products actually usable and useful. I've had the good fortune to work with people in the training and information sciences areas as well as in my native "documentation" specialty. These disciplines, like technical writing, were not dominated by women, but women were well represented in these fields, particularly in higher levels of management. They are the ones who have often been the singular woman on an all-male staff in a highly technical company, who have had to stand their ground often in defense of the value that their groups brought to the company, and who have made technology friendly. Curiously (or not) I have seen that these three fields -- information sciences, technical writing, and training and development -- have (together with consulting practices) provided fertile ground and expertise in the field we now know as knowledge management.

These women have been my role models, my mentors, and my friends. Today, on Ada Lovelace day, I salute them.

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Monday, February 15, 2010


I recently tweeted an observation of David Weinberger's on how our language has shifted:
Over the past decade, we’ve gone from talking about social circles to social networks. A circle draws a line around us. Networks draw lines among us.
I liked the way he phrased it, and I also note that it is the word social that connects the concepts because we are, at our core, social beings. The observation also begs the question about how those lines get drawn, and this leads me back to an inquiry I've been having for some time. The word social is now attached to so many concepts that it is hard to keep up with the proliferation of terms that are coopting it and putting it in different contexts. (Just as when I was young I had trouble parsing "ice cream social" because I didn't see "social" as a noun.)

Because I am called upon to give talks about, uh, social media and the like, I thought it best to take the time to do a very quick run-down of the terms and my sources for the definitions that I use. This is necessarily an incomplete list (see the word "proliferating" above). Here's my current take, divided into three pieces: technology, practice, analysis. First, social media.

Social media appears to be the term that is showing the most legs in terms of collective use with respect to the web-based digital technologies that shift focus from content to conversation, from publishing to interacting. Penny Hagen, who nicely ties together some of the definitional threads to provide A working definition of social media and why we couldn’t answer the question, captures thinking from Danah Boyd and Clay Shirky that suggests that social media is both about technology and the social habits that are being entrained by our use of it. So the media is not just the message (as per McLuhan) but it is the message and the messengers.


Social software becomes, therefore, the technology side of the definition of social media, and we use it when we refer specifically to software that enables and supports personal interaction. The personal interaction becomes social to the extent that there are named and identifiable people on each end (or in all the threads) of the transaction. These may be either tools, platforms, or social networking sites/services.

Social tools are the individual programs and products that use, either in concert or individually, for example, blogs and wikis.

Social software platforms consist of suites of social tools that are packaged as solutions aimed at one or more business segments. Jive, for example, is a collaboration platform designed with a social perspective. Ning is perhaps the largest open (free) platform available to groups of any size or inclination who want to form a community or to collaborate. Andrew McAfee
first used the phrase emergent social software platforms in his May 2006 definition of Enterprise 2.0. Its acronym, ESSP, is often taken as Enterprise Social Software Platform.

Note that existing software platforms that predate Web 2.0 can be socialized by the addition of social tools, but the design centers for these platforms remains unchanged (SharePoint, even SP10, remains designed around content management.)

Social computing. Dion Hinchcliffe, who is so talented at graphic representations of the relationships among concepts tackled social computing as the overarching and encompassing term for the mishmash of themes and terms. I don't want to contradict him, but merely point out that each of us has to resolve the distinctions for ourselves and that his model is a good starting point for anyone who wants to try to make sense of this (as I am now doing for myself and sharing it with the expectation that it may help others start to make their own sense of things).

Social networking sites are a special case of social platforms. To use Danah Boyd's definition, they are
"web?based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi?public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.
Andrew McAfee has similarly used the term social networking service to refer to these sites, which include Facebook, MySpace, and so on.

Social bookmarking lets people share the URLs of websites that they want to revisit and organize them in a way that is browsable by others.

Social tagging offers the ability to provide descriptors for information artifacts that can be used by others, including bookmarks.


These technologies are changing the way we work, the ways in which we grow relationships with other human beings, and the ways that we process, filter, and give context to information. These are the practices that are emerging that make us comfortable with, dependent on, and successful using social media. It is in this area that some of the more interesting new terms are sprouting. I say "interesting" because the terms themselves challenge us to think anew about who and how we -- and our enterprises -- are in the world.

Social Business is a term proposed to lead us to rethink how business is done:
An organization designed consciously around sociality and social tools, as a response to a changed world and the emergence of the social web. (Stowe Boyd)
(Stowe also acknowledges the need to disambiguate this use of the term with the use related to nonprofit businesses that address social objectives.)

Social architecture is the intentional use of social media in the design of how people work. For me, the term architecture implies design, as is evident in these definitions from two of my favorite people:

Social architecture is the conscious design of an environment that encourages certain social behavior leading towards some goal or set of goals. (Andrew Gent.)

Social architecture is a user experience oriented approach to the design and analysis of social tools. (Stowe Boyd)
Note there is no single architecture, but a sense that we can harness the extraordinary capabilities offered by social computing to change the ways we work and learn.

Speaking of learning, Social learning
[is] the development of knowledge, skills, and attitudes while connected to others (peers, mentors, experts) in an electronic surround of digital media, both real-time and asynchronous. (Harold Jarche).
Even as I include that definition, I feel that we must also acknowledge, via Jay Cross, that informal learning occurs by many means (especially face-to-face) that can't be controlled or programmed, but by its nature when the learning comes through exchange with other human beings, it is social learning. I have also blogged social learning at theappgap.

Social team (from Boris Pluskowski): a collection of individuals who have a common understanding of the "game they are playing" (i.e. the team's purpose); know in which goal they are trying to score (i.e. have a shared understanding of what a "win" looks like); and are collaborating together to achieve that aim. Boris is extending the concept of team using the concepts from Here Comes Everybody to illustrate the potential to tap the expertise, passion, and abilities of a large number of people to support a shared purpose.

Social Object:
...(in a nutshell) is the reason two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to somebody else.” (Hugh McLeod)
This notion brings us back down to earth in the sense that when we talk about what makes it possible for people to collaborate, we must understand that there is something shared between them, an artifact that prompts discourse or a shared emotion.

Note I tend to equate these social objects with a more scholarly term, boundary objects, most clearly explained by Lilia Efimova in writing about blogs as boundary objects.

Social capital. the stocks of social trust, norms and networks that people can draw upon to solve common problems. This is what we build, or can build, daily, by acknowledging others, through respectful collaboration in shared endeavors and in social media through retweets, comments, and references.


One of the things I have come to understand in my work in social network analysis is that being able to make sense of the connections -- the lines among us -- gives us access to questions and insights we might not otherwise have.

Social network. a collection of people who can be identified by a something that they have in common, a kinship, an interest, an organizational tie, a membership. What we see in social media are the networks of common interest implied by membership in a single social networking site (so Facebook represents a "network") but more rationally are any set of people who have a somewhat narrower set of criteria. I participate in many social networks on Facebook, don't you?

Social graph. The representation of the social network. As I like to say, if it's a network, you can draw it (or imagine it drawn), showing individual people and their connections.

Social network analysis comprises a set of methods and tools for collecting information about the graph of a social network and displaying that information visually and quantitatively.

Social analytics. The aggregation and correlation of the data collected from social software that reveals social structures and relations to assess interaction and conversation patterns. (See Mike Gotta for the basics and also for his thinking about how this is an emerging topic for 2010 .)

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