Time warp – Companies on typewriters discover social media

Monkeys_with_TypewritersFor the past 18 months Jemima Gibbons has been interviewing people in the UK, Europe and the US for a new book on how social tools are changing the way we work. The book, entitled Monkeys with Typewriters, is published by Triarchy Press and is out now. Here are her favourite quotes:

“We can no longer separate strategy from execution.” – Russell Davies, Really Interesting Group.

It’s so easy to put an idea online. Why develop something behind closed doors when you can throw it out into the community and get free input and feedback? The idea may take a completely new direction, but it will be more relevant.

“I found that email was appalling; there were so many ‘broken trust’ implications in it – bcc was evil: ‘I trust you so much that I’m going to have a conversation with you, with your boss watching, but I’m not going to tell you’; cc was ‘cover your arse’ – the behaviour was appalling again.” – JP Rangaswami, BT.

Email was a popular pet hate among interviewees. Whether Google Wave will replace it as the standard communications tool is another matter.

“Enterprise needs to learn about real-time responsiveness to its users. Banks have a tremendous amount of data about their users, but they don’t share it […] For example, when you swipe your credit card, it doesn’t say, “Hey, you’ve spent enough this month!'” – Tim O’Reilly, O’Reilly Media.

And wouldn’t that be useful? Wise words from the daddy of Web 2.0.

“You’re trying to keep [any] complexity up on the ‘social’ level rather than baking it down into the software.”
– Ross Mayfield, SocialText.

Twitter’s launch of a dedicated ‘retweet’ button has met with mixed reviews, and many users prefer to retweet manually. It’s not always easy to formalise human behaviour.

“These days, especially in technology, your partners are also your customers, are also your competitors – all at the same time.”
– Matt Glotzbach, Google.

Google’s ‘keystone advantage’ is down to the fact that it feeds and supports the global web community that it depends on for survival. The healthier that ecosystem, the more Google benefits.

“The people who say ‘I can’t come because I’m at work’ are missing the point – this is work, just in a different way.” – Lloyd Davis, Tuttle Club.

New ways of doing business, such as unconferences, barcamps, self-organising and co-working are driven by passion and ideas rather than formal structures and hierarchies – but they are increasingly productive.

“We’re a news organisation, essentially” – Scott Monty, Ford Motor Company.

Monty points out that the messages coming out of a business are as important if not more so than its products. His comment echoes that great Clay Shirky quote, “all businesses are media businesses”.

Monkeys with Typewriters was published last week by Triarchy Press.