Curators of the now

I was speaking last night at a Computer Weekly CW500 event focused on social networking. The other speakers were JP Rangaswami, Chief Scientist at BT, and Ariel Eckstein, the MD of Hiring solutions at Linked In.
CW500 is a club for CIO and IT director level managers. No suppliers are allowed, so the regular monthly events are a great meeting place for senior IT people to discuss issues with peers – without someone trying to flog them some consultancy or software.
The three of us had 10 minutes to speak, followed by a Q&A session. Naturally, the Q&A was free-flowing and enjoyable, given the senior positions of the audience. JP was on good form. He has a way of talking about IT and social networks that avoids all the usual terminology. He doesn’t talk about blogs, or Twitter, or friends, or likes… and his views are incredibly perspicacious. Always worth listening to. Ariel talked about how the entire hiring marketplace is changing as more companies use social networks to hire staff – who would have thought that a firm like Accenture is now resourcing almost half of new hires using social networks?
My own talk was really around the pros and cons of blogging for senior executives. I’ll post a summary of it tomorrow. Today, I want to just highlight a question that came from the audience to me.
I was asked why the questioner’s 13-year-old daughter finds it entirely natural to operate online, using instant messaging and social networks to stay in touch with her friends, whereas all the suits in the room still need it explained to them.
There are a few angles to this. First, JP had talked about ‘digital natives’ and the Cluetrain Manifesto in his talk. I won’t go into detail on this – click the link if you want more – but just think about this for a moment. Young people about to graduate from university this year or next year were born in 1990. Yes, the nineties… and they are going to be looking for work soon. And they cannot remember any moment in their life before the Internet was there and everyone had a mobile telephone. They find the concept of a phone attached to a building to be extremely strange and are entirely comfortable with the ability to reach out to anyone, anywhere in their network at any time.
Second, what is in the stream of information that the child is reading? It’s probably friends and friends of friends talking about movies, actors, music… sharing and recommending information.
That’s a newsfeed. That’s what you might see on your ‘All Friends’ feed on Twitter.
Think about it. If you are an executive who wonders what on earth Twitter can offer then sign up. Don’t tweet anything, but start following the people you respect and trust. It might be favourite authors, journalists, other executives, technologists, analysts, business advisors or researchers, politicians (maybe)…
Now look at the stream of information. It’s a stream of high quality information written by people you trust, or them recommending other things to read, or them broadcasting things their own trusted friends have said.
It’s your own personal information stream that is curated by you. And in this age of information overload, that’s amazingly powerful.
So the next time you wonder how a tool like Twitter could ever be useful to you, why not think of it as a filter – allowing you to curate your own personal view on what matters right now.

Museum of London

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