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Why the '8 things' tag meme is important

Now and again, someone will dream up a tag meme game. The idea is the writer says x-number of things and tags y-number of others to follow suit.
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Written by Dennis Howlett on

Now and again, someone will dream up a tag meme game. The idea is the writer says x-number of things and tags y-number of others to follow suit. Right now the 8 things you didn't know about me tag meme is doing the rounds and yes, I've been tagged on my professional blog and no, I'm not doing it. I've been there before with something similar a year or so ago. What I didn't realize is that for some people, this is seen as spam. Justin Kestelyn, curator of Oracle Technology Network says:

Fascinating that a little game of blog-tag would evolve into the latest Oracle Blogosphere teapot tempest (nicely summarized here by Eddie Awad & commenters). Interestingly, the game has since spilled over into the wider Blogoverse.

Whether a blog-tag = spam is not a topic I would have foreseen in this venue. Just goes to show you that a community has organic attributes - it comprises many mutually balancing interests, such as ego/atruism, privacy/desire to share, and so on. Which is another way of saying: one person's nourishment is another person's poison, and often you don't know which is which until after the fact.

Oh dear. A quick click through to Eddie's site explains all:

There is at least one person who is not happy with Jake’s old-fashioned game of blog tag. Howard Rogers has shut down his website in protest against this latest blog tag craze. Right now, it’s a madhouse I want no part of, Howard writes on his, now one page, site. He also expressed his frustration about flooding OraNA with 8 things you didn’t know about me posts here, here, here and here.

Personally, I think it is not spam, or at least it is not bad spam. The tagged posts show that there is a real person behind every Oracle blog, each with a different personal story to tell. However, OraNA is indeed flooded with the 8 things posts, so I do understand Howard’s frustration, even though his reaction was a bit extreme.

I had not thought of this game as something that would cause so much angst but it opens an interesting question. OraNA is seen as an aggregtator for business communications so what the heck are people doing polluting it with fun stuff? This is the kind of reaction I would expect to hear from industry management concerned with workforce productivity.

Despite all the evangelism around social computing, there remains a fear that somehow people will spend all their time messing around with these types of spurious activities. But are they spurious? In Jake Kuramoto's originating post, he said:

The goal is to learn more about the people you interact with using New Web. If you don’t want to play along, no worries. For an example, check out the Ontario Emperor’s response to being tagged. No point in tagging him again.

I'm enough of an optimist to believe that the workplace has not become as Dilbertized as the objectors would have us believe. I certainly don't see such memes as spam. Instead I see such learning as an opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the people with whom we interact. This becomes incredibly important as the notion of a distributed workforce takes hold and more people are working remotely.

I may talk to my colleagues and see them on video but when I think about it, I have never met all the Enterprise Irregulars and may never do so. If we're lucky, groups of us may meet two or three times a year. In those circumstances, the opportunity to learn something about them beyond our professional relationship is not only welcome, it's enriching. I contend that an enriched workplace is a happy workplace and as anyone will tell you, happy people are way more productive than those stuck in Dilbert's world. With that in mind, I am taking the liberty of sharing a few things I've learned about a selection of the Irregulars. First though it would be remiss to ignore Jake and Justin:

  • Jake: I love to fight. I train in a variety of combat sports, including Brazilian Jiu-Jistu, Western boxing and clinch, collectively known as mixed martial arts. I’m not the only AppLabber who studies a martial art, and I’ve been surprised at how many Oracle people train in combat sports and martial arts.
  • Justin:  My godfather was the late Sir Peter Medawar, a Nobel Prize winner in medicine. I don't know why, exactly.
  • Jeff Nolan:  I am hyper self-critical, to a fault, and fundamentally believe I won’t be successful at anything I do. I think it’s a strategy I’ve conned myself into so that I won’t be disappointed if I don’t succeed. Ironically, I’m generally an optimist and believe that everyone else will be successful. It’s a conflict I have yet to reconcile.
  • Susan Scrupski: I suppose because I wasn’t of means, wealthy people never really impressed me. I am impressed by a lot of things, but bank accounts (alone) are not high on my list. My number 5 then is William Randolf Hearst III once tried to get me to go to dinner with him. We sat next to each other at a Computer Museum fundraiser. I politely turned him down, as I was madly in love with a scraggly, skinny, yes– struggling, Boston musician at the time.
  • Thomas Otter:  I’m a collector of useless facts. While at prep school I once stood up (aged 10) in assembly and corrected the headmaster. He had just said that Charles Lindbergh had been the first person to fly non-stop  across the Atlantic. I stood and said, “Please sir, you are wrong. It was Alcock and Brown in 1919 in a Vickers Vimmy, Lindbergh was the first solo flight.” He replied, “Otter, I bow to your superior knowledge.”  Unfortunately, most other people are not as gracious when I bore them with trivia. This does mean I’m quite good in a pub quiz.
  • Maggie Fox: My paternal grandfather discovered a star in the 50’s (the celestial kind, not the Hollywood kind). He was an astronomer, chemist and inventor. Uh, I guess that’s not really about me, is it? Well… I’m related to a guy who discovered a star, how about that? My Dad’s family are all mechanically gifted, and through them I am related to the man who invented the modern steel-ribbed umbrella. My three-greats grandfather came to Canada from York in the late 1890’s, and I have a box full of letters from that side of the family that are fascinating (lots about inheritances and family quarrels). I am slowly typing them up and posting them on this blog. I haven’t gotten very far yet.
  • Sig Rinde: Studied in Zurich due to the fact that I took a right instead of left on the motorway between Bern and Basel on a Friday and ended up with some friends partying all weekend. Stayed for six years. My mother waited for me on the ferry landing in Oslo every morning for a week until she heard from some mother of a friend that I stayed behind in Zurich. (Hope my sons will treat me better though!)
  • Craig Cmehil: I have a secret desire to build something that proves to be quite useful to a lot of people and at the same times lets everyone participate without having to change what tools/services they already use - hence the passion and effort I'm putting into @eventtrack, I simply hate being unable to participate because "only this" or "only that" works with it. They are called API's for a reason.

If you've gotten this far I want to pose a couple of questions: Do YOU feel enriched in knowing US a little better? Are these the kind of people with whom you'd like to spend time?

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