Social Enterprise

Peter Cochrane's Blog: The true power of social networking

Doing the hard work so you don't have to...

Written in a Seattle coffee shop and dispatched to silicon.com via a really expensive and slow wi-fi service in Rome a week later.

Some people in the media seem to have a real downer on social networking and concentrate considerable energy on charting its failings. I prefer to exploit everything that is right in the technology.

Older people - and minds, especially - often ask me: "What's the big deal about social networks?" I could reply in many ways, but the core of my reply tends to be as follows:

  • Other people read so I don't have to
  • Other people watch so I don't have to
  • Other people search so I don't have to
  • Other people research so I don't have to
  • Other people test things so I don't have to
  • Other people check things so I don't have to
  • Other people solve problems so I don't have to

Being a part of a vast community of people who choose to tell everyone else what they see, find, discover and understand is incredibly powerful.

Their efforts save me time while reducing the chances that I might miss or overlook something important and, of course, I contribute too.

the importance of social media lies in its ability to facilitate collaboration

The importance of social media lies in its ability to facilitate collaboration
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

What some older people don't get is the idea of openness and sharing: theirs was a world of information and experience containment; it was about control through the metering out of snippets of information and the secret application of wisdom.

Today's world is about being influential through sharing across a community of choice. It is a world away from the centralism of the past, and far more powerful.

If you need convincing, consider the world before printing presses when only a few could read and books were largely handwritten in Latin. This was a centralist world of gods and guilds, and control through fear and ignorance. Now, chart the progress after the printing press right through to the present day.

In short, I know where I would sooner live, and the manner in which I have to conduct my life and business, and it isn't at any time in the past.

About Peter Cochrane

Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.

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