Online Communities & CoPs

Background, Business, Future, Take action, Web 2.0

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I like this concept a lot…it encourages collaboration.

Online Communities

An online community is a virtual village. It is a group of people, a virtual team who connects online via today’s technologically advanced means and talk about topics that interest the group as whole. They primarily convene by the means of the Internet and those who desire to become a member usually have to sign up to a specific site or application* in order to play an active role in the community. Online communities can function as an information system where individuals can post, comment on discussions, offer their opinion and collaborate. Without at doubt this type of community totally evolved out of Web 2.0’s digitally connective nature. Don’t you think?

Communities of Practice (CoPs)

A Communities of Practice is essentially the key to elevating a business’ performance and is a powerful marketing tool. It involves networks of individuals “who share a concern or a passion for something they do” and who desire to “learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” CoPs are created by people who connect in the process of communal learning and in a shared domain of human endeavor for example, a group of foreigners learning to how to exist in a New Zealand or musicians who are keen on understanding how a new instrument works. However not all communities are CoP, we must remember this as CoP requires a form of intentional learning.

Educational theorist, Etienne Wenger believes that there are three characteristics that are crucial to a CoP to which they also help identify the difference between a community and CoP. He goes as far to say that before a community can even be viewed as a CoP they would need to adhere and display a combination of these three characteristics. Here you have them…

Domain: A CoP is not simply a group of friends but needs to be identified as being a community that has a shared domain of interest. The individuals in the group may not know one other personally but are connected and committed to one another through their mutual field of concern. Within a domain, members value their shared expertise and the ability to learn from one another.

Community: In sustaining their domain, members of a CoP need to come together and interact and learn from one another. Wenger said, “members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other; they care about their standing with each other.” The individuals in the community may not work together on a daily basis however what creates and supports their community is their joint learning and connectivity.

Practice: Those who are in a CoP are otherwise known as practitioners. So a CoP is not solely founded on a shared interest but also a shared practice, where members unite to develop a shared collection of resources such as past encounters, stories, tools and ways of addressing common problems. The exchange of information and shared experiences between practitioners is what undergirds their community.

Domain, community and practice are essential attributes that gives life to a CoP.

According to Wenger a CoP normally involves these kind of activities:

  • Problem solving
  • Request for information
  • Seeking experience
  • Reusing assets
  • Coordinating and interaction
  • Building an argument
  • Growing confidence
  • Discussing developments
  • Documenting projects
  • Visiting locations of interest
  • Mapping knowledge and identifying gaps
  • Creating new ideas

Looking at these activities…are you in CoP? I would have say that they are all really profitable actions because they all either create or sustain knowledge and in my eyes that is a good thing. I believe a society with healthful CoPs is a society full of life and creativity.

In my mind the core difference between an online community and a CoP is the way that they literally converse. You see those who belong to an online community don’t necessarily see each other face to face, whereas members of a CoP usually come together in person. However, as our lecturer David P best explained the “distinction between the terms ‘online communities’ and ‘communities of practice’ has blurred in recent times due in part to the explosion of online communities facilitated by social media technologies.” Technology and interactive platforms like social media applications have really shaken things up and that is why I honestly believe aspects of the CoP are slowly becoming irrelevant as they merge into the online community sphere and embrace more and more of Web 2.0 world. Wouldn’t you guys agree?

Benefits and Limitations

Online Community Benefits

  • Gives members the power to disseminated their messages globally and across the Internet
  • It is inclusive
  • Breeds and encourages acceptance, validation and sense of belonging It Expands Makes room for creativity and collaboration
  • Creates and expands conversations
  • Empowers all members and supports freedom of speech

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OC pros

 Online Community Limitations

  • There is a lack of face-to-face contact between members in an online community.
  • Members don’t really have an individual or personally identity, therefore it’s difficult for members in an online community to create genuine relationships with others in the group.
  • It’s challenging to build strong connections and commitment. With an online community members can miss out on the emotional bond that occurs when interacting in a physical space or when using tangible objects, thus making membership rather casual.

CoP Benefits

  • Allow employees to manage change
  • Provides access to new knowledge
  • Cultivates trust and a sense of common purpose
  • Adds value to professional lives
  • Creates knowledge and encourages skill development
  • Uses information management to drive strategy
  • Disseminate valuable information and transfer best practice
  • Initiate new lines of business including new products and services
  • Facilitate rapid responses to customer needs and problems
  • Decrease the learning curve for new employees
  • Help companies recruit and retain talent

CoP Limitations

  • Time Demands and constraints: In order for CoP to be successful and to reap the fruit from their conversations and actions they need time and sustained interaction.
  • Organisational Hierarchies: CoP within an organisation may contradict its actual intention to be informal and break down the walls of pride, intellect and power. Scholar Steven Kerno explained, “if the majority of individuals within an organization are more concerned with maintaining and adhering to the organization chart and its hierarchical ordering than with maximizing organizational performance…than the “status quo” will prevail and community of practice efforts are not likely to produce any substantive progress or benefits. Worse, they may be perceived as several previous organizational “fads” that failed to realize their potential.”
  • Culture: CoPs are a social design and so they reflect the wider social structures, institutional and national culture that they exist in. The result of this is that CoPs innately generate cultural differences** between organisational CoPs that may hinder their overall effectiveness.

On the whole, the benefits of a CoP truly validate its relevancy to a business strategy. Businesses can integrate and utilise a CoP to elevate their objectives, genuinely connect with their employees and train them in a more transparent manner that generates a healthy environment of sharing and learning information across hierarchal structures.

*Like a video game, blog or their work’s intranet site

**Conformity, individualism, social expectation and interactivity modes

References:

Wenger, E. (2006). Communities of practice: A brief introduction

Kerno, S. (2008). Limitations of communities of practice. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 15, 69-77. Retrieved from http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:OOmR3-r95CAJ:www.knowledgemobilization.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/8.-Limitations-of-Communities-of-Practice-.pdf+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari

 McDermott, R. & Archibald, D. (Mar 2010). Harnessing your staff’s informal networks. Harvard Business Review, 88(3), 82-89. 

Mitchell, J., & Wood, S. (2001). Benefits of Communities of Practice. Retrieved from http://www.jma.com.au/upload/pages/communities-of-practice/c-of-p-benefits.pdf?1377489802

 

 

 

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Social Capital & Trust

Background, Future, Personal development

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These are some of the SC attributes

Social Capital 

This concept refers to the networks of relationships between people who live and work in a specific culture. It relates to the personal associations people have within their communal sphere and encompasses the norms, trust and systems that exist within a group. Social capital allows individuals to work effectively, both independently and collectively, and helps people to possess better lives.

Social capital is also a pretty cool theory as it enables supportive, emotional and personal factors to be shared through bonding and bridging relationships. Let me explain…

Bonding social capital comes from an inward-looking social network and normally occurs between an individual and those who are super close to them like a family member or good mate. Bonding social capital is an intimate form of social capital and provides individuals with emotional support, which in the end helps them to function in the world in a more satisfying way.

Bridging social capital on the other hand is related to a larger network of people. It is considered to be a more significant form of social capital as benefits an individual’s overall economic and social development. Bridging social capital is important because it gives individuals access to different people, different information and different social networks beyond their immediate bonding circle.

Watch this somewhat odd and witty clip for more info on social capital:

Do you know anyone with a pump?

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Here’s another SC example

Social Capital, Trust and Social Media within Organisations

One of the core things to note is that social capital is about building trust. So in the context of an organisation’s use of social media…social media is a platform that encourages social capital (and therefore the building of trusting relationships) and social capital can help organisations enhance their relationships, functionality and overall brand equity. Social media enables organisations to elevate their social capital since it supports interactivity, synchronous communication and freedom of speech. This means that social media can actually be used to build trusting relationships between an organisation and their employees and customers.

That being said, trust is a difficult thing to exercise across social media because technology inhibits our ability to assess those we’re talking via social channels. And so that is why I guess Theorist’s Kennedy and Sakaguchi said, the “future of the Internet may require faith in humanity”, as organisations nowadays are required to apply a moralistic or generalised trust towards individuals in order to attain and improve their social capital.

 Issues and Challenges of Social Media

  • Psychological Impacts*: It influences the way we think and respond. Our intellect and actions are now intrinsically dictated by the way we use technology. We no longer accept the traditional process of using our brains but desire to have instant answer to questions, which we can easily access through the Internet.
  • Privacy/Big Brother: Employers can now invade employees’ privacy through actively monitoring their Internet and e-mail activity. This action however erodes trust and lowers morale, commitment and performance within an organisation.
  • Bad behaviour can also go unnoticed via social media, as supervising one’s online activity can be rather demanding operation for an organisation to sustain

However, there are also some good reasons for employers to monitor their employees:

  • To protect their legal liabilities
  • To checking if employees are doing the work they should be, without being distracted by the Internet or their private Facebook feed
  • To make sure private and confidential documents are not being transmitted and disseminated in an inappropriate way

 It is very important for an organisation to address these issues and challenges as time equals money** and one bad act online could ruin their reputation. Having said that organisations need to find the right balance between being a watchdog and allowing their employees to use social media to generate revenue.

 Culture and the Adoption of Social Media

Culture plays a big role in the process of change yet today we have a workforce full of millennials who are highly technologically orientated and executives who are not so keen on using interactive technology akin to social media due to the influence it may have on their productivity and security.

Christine Eberle, a contributor to the influential book called The Social Media Management Handbook, stated in a podcast that organisations need to strike a balance between accepting social platforms into their workplace/workflows and nurturing a corporate environment, where all the different voices can be heard. Eberle believes that if organisations actually opened their arms to today’s technologically advanced culture they could move their organisation in the right progressive direction.

To wrap up…social media scholar, Andrew Miller said, “the more rigid an organization’s internal controls are for workflow the more likely that social media adoption is being fought.” This makes me think…how long can an organisation like this exist in today’s culture that is heavily influenced by technology? What do you guys reckon?

Social Capital

You can’t resist technology!

*Here are some poignant quotes from the very thought provoking article called Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains by Nicholas Carr (such a good read)

  • “What the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”
  • “In the past the man has been first” and “in the future the system must be first.”
  • “The Internet is a machine designed for the efficient and automated collection, transmission, and manipulation of information, and its legions of programmers are intent on finding the “one best method”—the perfect algorithm—to carry out every mental movement of what we’ve come to describe as knowledge work.”
  • “In Google’s world, the world we enter when we go online, there’s little place for the fuzziness of contemplation. Ambiguity is not an opening for insight but a bug to be fixed. The human brain is just an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and a bigger hard drive.”

**Employers don’t want employees wasting their company time or looking at their personal mobiles when they should be working. They also may not want to be associated to some of the things their employees are connected to via their private social media accounts, therefore employers have to be diligent and make sure they ethically monitor their employees use of social media when at work.

References:

Kennedy, M. & Sakaguchi, T.  (2009).  Chapter XII Trust in social networking: Definitions from a global, culture viewpoint.  In C. Romm-Livermore & K. Setzekorn. Social networking communities and e-dating services: Concepts and implications (pp. 225-238).  Hershey, NY: Information Science Reference.

Miller, A. (2011). Cultural barriers to organizational social media adoption. In J. Girard & J. Girard (Eds.), social knowledge: Using social media to know what you know (pp. 96-114). Hershey, PA: doi: 10.4018/978-1-60960203-1.ch006

 

Government & Social Media

Future

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I trust you.obama-adresss-social-media-dataEmbrace it like Obama

With our new way of communicating through digital applications and technology the government is totally ready to progress into an e-government, joining arms with their colleagues and publics. This type of government is one that partners with civilians, embraces the culture of transparency, welcomes the notions of openness and anti-corruption, breaks down information silos and allows systems, processes and departments to connect and work together. Ines Megel a social media expert expressed that social media has the power to eliminate “knowledge silos” and disrupt old hierarchical governmental structures, seeing that it’s purpose, what it was created to do, encourages social communication and confronts long established “need to know” data-sharing systems. What’s more, according to social media scholars Gwanhoo Lee and Young Hoon Kwak, social media can facilitate public engagement with a government however there are some risks and challenges involved.

Drivers and Inhibiters

Yes, I would have to say that when social media is adopted and implemented by the government there are some driving pros and inhibiting cons. 

Pros:

  • Data transparency. What you see is what you get, wouldn’t this be nice?
  • It allows open participation and collaboration between the government and society, creating unity, encouraging democracy and ultimately reducing fraudulent acts.
  • Pulls down walls of supremacy and promotes the value of sharing of information. 

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An open government is a good government.

Cons:

  • Not having the authority to audit information before publication. I guess this can be rather scary for governmental entities, as they don’t like to wear their hearts on their sleeves.
  • Trying to find the balance and to understand the unease between transparency and need for control.
  • Time constraints. Sustaining public engagement via social media takes time. Like it or not good things such as building strong relationships takes time.
  • Communicating and collaborating requires all parties involved to be responsible and accountable for the who, what, when, why and how information broadcasted.

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If we’ve got the technology to unify the people then why don’t we comply?

All things considered I reckon the ultimate solution to overcome these inhibiting cons would be trust. If the government and public formed a solid connection built on trust, social media will be released to function as it was intended to and both the government and society will experience a new era of honesty.

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E-government | Connect with the people you work for.

Government vs Private Sector 

It’s not unusual to hear that social media is more relevant for private sectors than governmental bodies since it assumably discounts a government’s exclusive needs and objectives and enhances a companies image and awareness. Businesses have the liberty to trial a range of social media tools and to advance their programs through the analytical information social media provides them. Whereas Federal agencies on the other hand are to some extent less concerned with enhancing their likeability and more interested in increasing the effectiveness of their programs…“citizens like a government that works when they need it, but generally aren’t interested in fandom”.

The Differences and Similarities between Government and Private Sectors 

  • Private sectors assign funds for promotional posts yet many government agencies do not due to being a public service. It is their duty to provide the public with beneficial knowledge relating to their programs.
  • Society does not expect government agencies to advertise official information to them, as they believe it should be freely accessible
  • Society expects government agencies to be verified on key social media platforms like private sectors, so that they can gather information about their endeavours directly and not feel like their being treated as consumers but as civilians.
  • Governments and private sectors measure their success in different ways and that is why is essential for them to approach social media acknowledging their unique workflows and objectives.

References:

Lee, G., & Kwak, Y. (2012). An open government maturity model for social media-based public engagement. Government information quarterly 29, 492–503.

Hegel, I. (2010). The use of social media to dissolve knowledge silos in government. Deliberative democracy and public participation, 177-181.

Herman, J. (2014, April 22). Government Social Media Isn’t Lagging, It’s Different: And That’s Good. Digital Gov. Retrieved from http://www.digitalgov.gov/2014/04/22/government-social-media-isnt-lagging-its-different-and-thats-good/

 

 

Businesses & Non-profits.

Background, Future, Take action

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Let’s work

This post focuses on how small businesses, large companies and non-profit organisations have the chance to advance their objectives, enhance their image and improve their awareness through our ever so famous form of communication >>> social media . Using social media as a catalyst for success, these entities can utilise all kinds of social channels to circulate their lucrative messages and promote their offerings. 

Small Businesses, Non-profit organisations and Social Media

A chance to get personal. Small businesses and non-profits can use social media to engage and form closer relationships with their target audience directly, producing long-term benefits. Moreover, small businesses can post non-product related stories and images online, which may lead consumers to have an emotional reaction and so cause them to share with their peers. They can also encourage consumers to express their own personal stories and opinions about their products, encouraging user-generated content. Social media not only gives small businesses and non-profits the chance to promote their comings and goings but it makes their target audience feel more connected to their brand, moving them to purchase their goods or to make a donation.

Take advantage of consumers and individuals’ daily mobile use. Mobile phones allow individuals to access social media 24/7, which benefits small businesses and non-profits as they can influence people to make a purchase or elevate a charitable cause at anytime of the day. A mobile phone also allows these groups to communicate their key messages to the public on a regular basis via social media.

Implement customer service. Small businesses can better serve their target market via social media, promptly addressing consumers’ problems or questions and resolving or dissolving any negative experiences or comments consumers may have in relation to their product/service. Likewise, small businesses can also toot their own horn by sharing consumers’ positive feedback…and in this case I reckon they should use as many social platforms as they can to spread the good word about their brand!

Hootsuite. To all the businesses and non-profits out there…I suggest you take a look at this!

Grovo

The Risks of Using Social Media in a Business

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Time and money

  • Negative publicity: A small business may post an improper comment about another business or individual on social media that could lead to damaging exposure.
  • Security issues: Confidential information about the small business could be leaked to the wrong channels via social media.
  • Public criticism: Consumers can publicise their frustrations about a small business, which is likely to taint their brand’s image.
  • Lack of education: Small businesses who are not techno-savvy and fail to use social media effectively due to a lack of knowledge (it pays to get some training or ask an expert for some help) will have to wear the opportunity cost.
  • Competitive exposure: Competitors also using social media could gain insight to a small businesses’ marketing tactics.
  • Wasting business time: Regular updates and monitoring social media takes time, time small businesses would rather spend on their essential day-to-day tasks.

“For a business owner who might be preoccupied with the day to day challenges of running a business in a sluggish economic recovery, maintaining an active social media presence is clearly not easy.”

Small & Large Businesses 

On the whole, businesses are more likely to use the Web in ways that are less time-consuming such as paying suppliers and buying goods online however find it difficult to draw out their social media existence in the long run due to their limited means.

Small businesses may be interested in utlising social media and would like the benefits that come with it however are scarce for time and resources. They stand-alone and focus on the matters at hand rather than sustaining an active social media presence. This is a tad sad as it could help their brand in the long run with gaining loyal customers and a profit.

Ms Smith said, “Much like social media, search engine marketing…requires specialist knowledge and expertise that is probably not available to many small businesses. We know…that the majority of consumers will search online first before choosing a product or service, so this is an area where businesses are missing out if they do not have the time or resources available.”

Larger businesses on the other hand have the means to not only implement a wide range of online marketing activities such as digital advertising or electronic direct mail but they can also invest time and resources towards building a strong social media aura. 

This all leads me to think…does a business’s use of social media wade in the hands of time and money?

Mobile Social Media and ‘Traditional’ Social Media

Mobile social media = A constant connection and interaction on social media due to mobile devices (e.g. Facebook Places, Foursquare, Gowalla and Yelp).

‘Traditional’ social media = A stationary connection and interactivity on social media (e.g., posting Twitter messages, Facebook status updates, watching a YouTube video or reading a Wikipedia entry).

Mobile social media is a collection “of mobile marketing applications that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. Companies engaging in mobile social media will often have some sort of knowledge about the consumers with whom they’re dealing, such as current geographical position in time or space.”

References:

Entrepreneur. (2016). How Your Small Business Can Use Social Media to Boost Sales. Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/244383

BarnRaisers. (2015). 27 surprising stats how social media is changing healthcare. Retrieved from http://barnraisersllc.com/tag/business-strategy/

TechXB. (2014). Top five risks companies face when using social media. Retrieved from http://techxb.com/top-five-risks-companies-face-when-using-social-media

Hubspot. (2014). 7 Serious Business and Legal Risks of B2B Social Media Marketing. Retrieved from http://blog.hubspot.com/insiders/legal-risks-of-social-media-marketing

MYOB (2012, 14 November). New Zealand business getting less social. Retrieved from http://myob.co.nz/myob/news-1257828256743?articleId=1257830446976

Kaplan, A. (2012). If you love something, let it go mobile: Mobile marketing and mobile social media 4×4. Business Horizons, 55(2), 129-139. doi: 10.1016/j.bushor.2011.10.009

 

 

 

IoT & A.I.

Future

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Internet of Things (IoT):

“is about connecting physical objects* to the Web/Internet and one way of understanding it is that if Web 2.0 is all about connecting people, then version 3.0 might be about connecting things to things and people to things” (p. 311).

*These tangibles objects are things like smartphones, laptop computers and tablets.

What’s more the IoT can go beyond these somewhat traditional gadgets to a vast range of devices that connect to the Internet to communicate and interact with the outside world. Through the Semantic Web (Web 3.0) the IoT comes alive and allows individuals to fuse their digital and physical lives together. This is so cool and crazy! I love the synchronous world that we live in today.

An example of Web 3.0 and the IoT working together, hand in hand, would be…writing an article on a a computer, sending it to a friend to read via Google Doc and then checking their feedback online on your iPhone. The IoT has made our lives super efficient and enables us to stay online forever. What do you guys think of this? Good or Bad?

All in all, I reckon businesses benefit from this greatly, seeing that 24/7 online activity can increase their productivity and collaboration, allowing them to work across different timezones. However, having the ability to work anywhere at any time can be a heavy yoke to carry, causing the lines between work and play to become a tad blurry…don’t you reckon?

Artificial-Intelligence-for-Business

Artificial Intelligence (A.I.):

A.I. is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines/computer systems. This intelligence gives a machine the ability to reason, plan, learn, communicate, perceive, move and control objects. Now that we understand Web 2.0, Web 3.0 and IoT we can see how A.I. innately comes into the scene and revolutionises the way we exist, think and act.

New Media Writer Clay Shirky said that the Semantic Web is A.I. researchers witness protection program and I would agree! He explained that with Web 3.0…

 “instead of making machines think like people we can describe the world in terms that machines were good at thinking about” so that they can help us to function in the world with greater ease.

Examples of today’s A.I. would be GPS and Siri, pretty much anytime computers are involved in a process or situation there is a chance A.I is too.

Looking at A.I. in a positive light the “goal is not so much about building a software agent that will fully understand a situation in a human way” (p.297)  but rather it’s about creating software that will influence our daily lives in an efficient way. Alternatively, yes, A.I. could replace us all in some way or form thus proving to be a very scary road to entertain. Yikes!

Questions for you…please share and tell!

  • When it comes to the notion of A.I. are you a skeptic or an enthusiast?
  • Do you reckon today we spend too much time in the fantastical world rather than in our real lives?

Check this out for more A.I. information, its super interesting:

Hold up hold up hold up…just when you think we’ve arrived we actually haven’t. I must make a shout out to Web 4.0 and Web 5.0 as they’re out there.

Web 4.0 is know as the “Mobile Web” and relates to our current mobile environment. It links all our gadgets in the real and digital world in real-time.

Web 5.0 on the other hand is know as the “Emotional Web”. It is open, connected, intuitive and still evolving. 

It “will be about the (emotional) interaction between humans and computers. The interaction will become a daily habit for a lot of people based on neurotechnology. For the moment web is “emotionally” neutral, which means web does not perceive the users feel and emotions.”

Nonetheless the time will come when we will interact with content that interacts with our emotions and changes with our reactions. This is what the future has in store for us and it’s pretty thrilling. Don’t you think?

References:

Anderson, P. (2012). Web 2.0 and beyond: Principles and technologies. CRC Press,Boca Raton, FL pp. 295-315.

Webopedia. (2016). IoT – Internet of Things. Retrieved from. http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/I/internet_of_things.html

Flat World Business. (2016). Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0 vs Web 3.0 vs Web 4.0 vs Web 5.0 – A bird’s eye on the evolution and definition. Retrieved from https://flatworldbusiness.wordpress.com/flat-education/previously/web-1-0-vs-web-2-0-vs-web-3-0-a-bird-eye-on-the-definition/