Fun Friday Links: A Network of CoWorkers, the Sharing Economy + I Type, Therefore I Am

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Supper happy fun friday linke time

June 7, 2013

Welcome to Conspire’s Super Happy Fun Friday Link Time, a weekly collection of cool discoveries from around the Web. Most times the goal is to get you thinking differently about communication, collaboration, culture, and life in general. Other times, LOLCAT ATTACK! Submissions are welcome, and you can send them to for consideration.

The CoWorker Network

In this article from KellogInsight, Northwestern University professor, Paul Leonardi, reports interesting discoveries that are likely to make you think a little differently about the whole #socbiz thing. Here are some of my favorite clips:

Leonardi learned that a major credit card company was about to implement an enterprise social networking tool called A-Life. The company wanted their 15,000 employees to have a better sense of who their colleagues were, and what they were doing, in order to reduce inefficiencies. After all, if an employee creates a report, only to discover that someone else has already done so, or gains a new skill set that already exists in another part of the company, this is not the best use of resources.

Indeed, as predicted, after six months those who had used the enterprise social networking site had improved their ability to find information by 31%—and to find people who knew the person with information by 71%. This improvement occurred despite the fact that employees sent, on average, just one message on the site per week. The size of the improvement came as a surprise to Leonardi, but he points out that the baseline was woefully low. “That 71% really… means that people are just getting up to speed,” he says.

Interestingly, Leonardi did not find that use of the social networking tool differed based on someone’s role in the organization. Instead, he found that use differed by age: younger employees across the company were generally more skeptical of the tool. “So many young people use social media tools”—like Facebook and Twitter—“in their lives daily,” and those tools are really for social, non-work-related communication, says Leonardi. This, he believes, made it harder for younger employees to embrace social technology in the workplace.  “They would say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to be posting things my boss would see.’ … On the other hand, the senior employees didn’t have that same concern. For them, the technology was another mode for communicating about work-related matters.”

Source: Kellog

The Sharing Economy

In this voideo, Loïc Le Meur (who you might remember from Six Apart or Seesmic) discusses the Sharing Economy, and why services such as Lyft, Airbnb and SharedEarth are much more than just hype.

Bonus: If you just want the highlights, you can view the deck over on SlideShare. There’s a bunch of interesting facts and thought-provoking quotes such as this one from Sunrun’s VP of customer care, Bill Stewart: “We’ve always been in a culture where more is more, and suddenly we’re in a culture where less is a better quality of life. It’s pretty revolutionary.”

Source: TNW on YouTube

I Type, Therefore I Am

A super interesting article on how our digital connectivity is changing written culture. Some clips to think about:

In the past few decades, more than six billion mobile phones and two billion internet-connected computers have come into the world. As a result of this, for the first time ever we live not only in an era of mass literacy, but also — thanks to the act of typing onto screens ­— in one of mass participation in written culture.

Just look at the ways in which most of us, every day, use computers, mobile phones, websites, email and social networks. Vast volumes of mixed media surround us, from music to games and videos. Yet almost all of our online actions still begin and end with writing: text messages, status updates, typed search queries, comments and responses, screens packed with verbal exchanges and, underpinning it all, countless billions of words.

This sheer quantity is in itself something new. All future histories of modern language will be written from a position of explicit and overwhelming information — a story not of darkness and silence but of data, and of the verbal outpourings of billions of lives. Where once words were written by the literate few on behalf of the many, now every phone and computer user is an author of some kind. And — separated from human voices — the tasks to which typed language, or visual language, is being put are steadily multiplying.

There’s much to celebrate in this profligate democracy, and its overthrow of articulate monopolies. The self-dramatising ingenuity behind even three letters such as ‘LOL’ is a testament to our capacity for making the most constricted verbal arenas our own, while to watch events unfold through the fractal lens of social media is a unique contemporary privilege. Ours is the first epoch of the articulate crowd, the smart mob: of words and deeds fused into ceaseless feedback.

Yet language is a bewitchment that can overturn itself — and can, like all our creations, convince us there is nothing beyond it. In an era when the gulf between words and world has never been easier to overlook, it’s essential to keep alive a sense of ourselves as distinct from the cascade of self-expression; to push back against the torrents of articulacy flowing past and through us.

Source: Aeon Magazine