Last week was Social Media Week, a global event with presentations, seminars, open days and other sessions run in cities around the world. I got back from LinuxConf Australia just in time to take part in a couple of the sessions that were running in London.
Social Tools for Internal Communications
The first event I took part in was the result of a last-minute invitation from Ande and Kate at Media140 to speak in their seminar on the use of social technologies / socal media for internal communications. I ended up as the first speaker to a crowded room at the IAB near Holborn. I spoke about my own experience of how IBM has transformed itself through the use of blogs, profiles, microblogs, video, and other tools. If you’ve heard me speak before then some of the elements would have been familiar – in particular, the “personal journey” of how I came to be a communicator both internally and externally. I did want to tie it in with the current celebration of IBM’s 100 year history, too… few companies have such long histories, and of course with the “near-death experience” of the mid-90s many thought that IBM’s story would end in breakup or failure. I’ve recently read Lou Gerstner’s memoir of his time at IBM, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance, and I was struck by the way in which he changed the internal communications at the organisation (his predecessor evidently did not own a PC or use the then-internal email system, PROFS) – so that seemed like a nice example of how some executive sponsorship or spotlight is needed to make a grassroots movement towards “social” successful.
The event overall was a lot of fun – my fellow speakers were all very engaging, and it was my first opportunity to meet one of my network, Abi Signorelli, in person… we’ve followed one another for some time now so it was great to be able to both meet her, and to hear her speak with passion and intelligence on the tools that can enable stronger social communications (and thanks to Abi for recommending me to Media140 as a speaker!).
The Future of Communities
The longer-standing commitment I’d had as part of SMW London was a panel discussion hosted by giffgaff, the community-driven mobile network that I started using late last year. Vincent and Heather had kindly invited me to participate on their panel, alongside some amazing folks like Kerry Bridge, Guy Stephens, Ian epredator Hughes, Jem Stone (someone else I’ve followed and admired online but have only just met in person), and some brilliant guys from Mozilla. Heather Taylor (moderating) kicked us off by asking us to imagine how we’d like communities to be in 100 years’ time… and that produced a wide-ranging discussion covering online and offline interactions, privacy, behaviours, business, social networks, and education. To me, it felt a little “rambly” in the sense that we did roam all over the map, and it was a large panel… but at the same time it was incredibly inspiring. I was glad to read Proactive Paul’s account of how the event helped to change some of his thinking about online identity and connectedness, in particular.
The lovely people from Techfluff TV were there, and made a short video report which they’ve now posted online:
 depending on when you read this, and when I post it… probably a couple of weeks ago when it finally sees the light of day!