Fear and greed drive social software adoption, says expert

Summary:Ross Mayfield (Socialtext) says that the primary driver for corporate blogging is fear, while greed is driving adoption of social software. "The emergent attention forming structure of the blogosphere can take a fit message and self-organize around it with a moment's notice.

Ross Mayfield (Socialtext) says that the primary driver for corporate blogging is fear, while greed is driving adoption of social software. "The emergent attention forming structure of the blogosphere can take a fit message and self-organize around it with a moment's notice. While extremely rare, this pattern gives employees the notion of empowerment by pulpit that can be ignorantly abused," said Mayfield.  While many corporations are embracing the blogosphere as an opportunity, taking it up out of fear is the norm since corporate executives unfortunately don’t trust their employees, he said. 

As for greed driving adoption, things get a little fuzzy. Mayfield first draws on ideas made in The Only Sustainable Edge, a book by John Seely Brown and John Hagel that argues collaboration underpins innovation itself.  Mayfield points out how most IT expenditure supports business processes while none of it goes into the social fabric required for collaboration. "Wikis, Blogs, RSS Aggregators and other Social Software provide an alternative to email for supporting the social fabric," he said.

Enterprises then adopt social software as a way to change through innovation, according to Mayfield, and this is done via greed. "Individuals are greedy as much as the next individual. Like all disruptive technologies (PCs, spreadsheets, local area networks, email, IM) and horizontal productivity apps, Social Software is entering the enterprise from the bottom-up. It is the individual who brings an open source or hosted tool to serve her needs or her workgroups needs to gain advantage over others within the enterprise," he said. 

Mayfield then ties it all together with this final observation: "Enlightened enterprises will act on opportunity, gain an edge, later to be copied out of greed, but the edge is sustained by innovation."

Is social software at the heart of sustainable innovation and does individual greed drive social software, as Mayfield suggests? 

Topics: Tech Industry

About

Christopher Jablonski is a freelance technology writer. Previously, he held research analyst positions in the IT industry and was the manager of marketing editorial at CBS Interactive. He's been contributing to ZDNet since 2003. Christopher received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Illinois at U... Full Bio

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