Social Media – the future

I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid… you’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin.

—Neo, The Matrix


No, I don’t know the future. But I’m watching it begin. Getting involved with Social Media Club was just the thing I needed to kick start my brain again. I had spent a lot of time thinking about Web 2.0 in this article for Optimize Magazine, but hadn’t had a lot of places to discuss my thoughts and to help them grow.

Thankfully I met Chris Heuer via Shanon Clark’s MeshForum.  Chris has spent a lot of time thinking about Social Media, including an excellent post here on the future of Social Media which he wrote for BlogOrlando’s event last week.

One of Chris’ predictions, “More individuals will band together in networks small and large, changing the very notion of freelancing and employment” is something that I’ve seen as a prediction before, whether via Dan Pink’s Free Agent Nation, Sara Horowitz’ Freelancer’s Union  (I was an original advisor to Working Today) or other folks. But it seems more timely now than in the dot-boom/bust timeframe.

Reading the upcoming book Mavericks at Work by William C. Taylor and Polly LaBarre has pointed to some excellent examples. (Thanks, Polly, for the advance copy!). Examples of companies like InnoCentive, which helps companies find solutions to difficult problems using the net and the wisdom of distributed crowds of scientists, researches, and labs around the world, really shows not just a freelance model but a new way of working for a company by working as a small team. InnoCentive, NineSigma, TopCoder and others provide an interface – an open API if you will – for small or medium size teams to collaborate, mashup and provide data to large collections of revenue and R&D dollars (also known as major corporations.)

How do these methods of finding innovation meet Social Media? All  the projects these companies do are done based on net and real world-based relationships, created first via the net, facilitated by collaborative software, nurtured via relationship building that’s often virtual…sound familiar? Sounds a lot like the way business is now done, and will be done. This is where Social Media meets Corporate Media (insert plug for the upcoming event of the same name this October, done by Chris and a few co-conspirators).

Getting back to Chris’ article, there are some other excellent points about how Social Media can save the world and change business. I made some connections in my head to what Chris said and what Greg Narain says about BizDev 2.0 as well:

The Wet Edge in the Web 2.0 world is the Open API. The edge is constantly moved by the developers that come along and increase the surface area – extend the reach and use of the underlying system by innovating the brush, so to speak. The survival of this enterprise assumes that the mixer (system developer) constantly adds new colors (features) to the palette, hence keeping painters (web developers) interested in the offering.

Business, Social Media, everything seems to grow more when we open the conversation, and yes, it has to be a conversation, up to others. As Tom Watson said recently, “Blogging isn’t about big stories or mainstream journalism. It’s about giving voices to thousands and thousands who didn’t have them before (beyond their dens and livingrooms and local barstools), providing real open distribution, and creating a vast patchwork quilt of conversation, thought, and passionate argument.” [emphasis is mine]

I didn’t come here to tell you how this is all going to end. I’m here to tell you how this will begin. We’ll be having another meeting of Social Media Club in NYC in late October. There are camp type events all over. Meetup hosts lots of good events. Pick one, and go talk to people. I hope you’ll join in the conversation with us.