At the risk of alienating readers, I have a confession. I’m on Facebook. At 54 years of age you’ve got be wondering with Howlett has completely lost his marbles. If I have, then so has CNN writer David Kirkpatrick who shares my age. In his reporting about Facebook’s F8 (fate, get it?) event, he says:
…my 14-year-old daughter is appalled that I am a member of Facebook, and refuses to let me friend her, lest her other friends find out via News Feed.
The world may be flat but culture has distinct demographics. I joined to help research my piece about BBC reporting on Keele University and now I’m figuring out what to do next. To the plot: I am convinced now more than ever that the
MySpace Facebook generation are going to obliterate a lot of what we understand about business today.
Much of what my generation of business people understand about business is based on applying command and control hierarchies that folk like my friend Sig Rinde abhor. I see Thomas Otter still clings to the idea, excusing himself on the basis ‘that’s what everyone still does’ theory. I’ll challenge that. Check out Dan Farber’s reporting on Facebook stats (abridged):
â€¢ More than 24 million active users
â€¢ More than 100,000 new registrations per day since Jan. 2007
â€¢ An average of 3 percent weekly growth since Jan. 2007
â€¢ Canada has the most users outside of the United States, with more than 2.5 million active users
â€¢ The U.K. is the third largest country with more than 1.4 million active users
â€¢ Remaining Top 10 countries in order of active users (outside of the U.S., Canada and UK): Norway, Australia, South Africa, Lebanon, Egypt, Sweden and India
Some of our most active bloggers are in their 50s and 60s – a group that I think is under-represented in the blogosphere at large. There are more teenagers than I expected, too. And, of course, plenty of people in between the oldsters and youngsters.
These communities are fostering a phenomenon that is tearing down the norms by which my generation have lived for many years. And with that comes new business rules. At one stage I worried that as youngsters progress through college and on to work they might drop their social networks as they come up against business run the ‘old’ way. But then I spoke with a partner in a firm of CAs today who had an ah-ha moment. He said:
You know there’s no reason why the principles of community should not apply to us as well. We’re constantly organising groups, re-organising them but we lose the knowledge that’s acquired along the way. Do you reckon a social network might help us?
Change happens one person at a time – in this case about 80 people at a time. I was genuinely surprised. I didn’t in my wildest imaginings think that a partner could readily envisage 100% adoption of this kind of technology to help the business move forward. the business need is there. All ‘we’ have to do is have the courage to pick it up and run with it.
Endnote: David Kirkpatrick’s piece is very long but packed with a ton of thought provoking facts. Well worth the read or, await the June 11th Edition of Fortune.