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Social Networking Comes to the Office

Here's something you should know upfront: Your editor is not on Facebook, or MySpace, or any of the popular social networking sites of the day. A few message boards? Sure. E-mail? A lot. The Internet in general? Pretty much all the time.

But not the social networking sites. Why? Well, it's hard to see what they deliver on top of everything else, other than providing little ego.com spaces for most of the people on them (and most of your editor's friends are on them, in case you were wondering). This relative luddite still gets by on e-mail and occasionally via telephone without much problem.

However, social networking is the phrase on everybody's lips -- and fingertips -- and has been for a while. That's certainly the case this week, as Microsoft and a slew of partners are releasing "Web 2.0" (whatever that really means) social networking applications.

What we're wondering is exactly what people are doing with work-related social networking stuff, if anything so far. A couple of quotes from the Computerworld story linked above make us wonder. Some of the stuff, we get. Let's go directly to the story here:

"For example...a salesperson could use iGoogle with a WorkLight gadget to receive updates about products from multiple back-end systems, including those that show sales and product demand in a particular region. Then the user could directly order products from iGoogle and have them shipped to a particular customer..."

OK, that makes sense. It's a supply chain application, basically. We get that, although we're not totally sure that it has anything to do with social networking, per se (and, to be fair, the article didn't really label it as such). But then there's this, again taken directly from the story:

"TownSquare is an enterprise news feed that allows users to receive news about managers, friends and colleagues in one place, Microsoft said. Microsoft also plans to announce a new open-source project for the development of podcasting applications in SharePoint Server."

News about managers? Do we want this? Am I going to get an e-mail that says something along the lines of, "Scott Bekker just got a haircut and is fairly pleased with it, although he wishes the guy had taken more off the top"? Or, "It took Anne Stuart two hours to get home last night because of traffic on the highway"?

Seriously, we're sure that there's some use for social networking stuff in the office, but we're not totally sure what it is. We'd like to hear from you. If you're doing something interesting with social networking (and goofing around on Facebook at work doesn't count), tell us your story at lpender@rcpmag.com. As always, we'll run the best of what we get here in RCPU.

Posted by Lee Pender on 06/10/2008 at 1:22 PM


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