As promised, here's the detailed post on The Human Network...
The Human Network is undoubtedly something very intriguing. Cisco is on to something for sure. It’s an admirable endeavour on their part to say the least. Ages ago people spoke about the world coming together. People spoke about the global village. The internet certainly has what it takes to create a global village and it is doing so in many ways. People are finding each other, helping each other, sharing with each other, working together….all through the internet. The Human Network and many other such initiatives are undoubtedly some things that will influence the future of the world. It therefore merits some retrospective reflection and analysis. I am no expert in the history of the collaborative online world. But I’ve attempted to randomly recall relevant developments and jot down what could have been the precursors and trend-setters of the collaborative online world.
Linus Torvalds created a revolution by getting passionate people across the globe to work together and share their work with a growing community. CKP in his book – The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers - spoke about a completely connected world in the context of commercial as well as the non-commercial ventures. Then came Blogs resulting in a situation that meant uninhibited self-expression that had the potential to influence the world. It also meant that one could keep in touch with thought-leaders and ordinary professionals alike and learn from and share with them as easily as speaking to one’s best friend – on almost a daily basis. Wikis went one step forward and allowed people to create something together. Wikipedia became an excellent knowledge repository that had answers to almost everything. Skype allowed people to get in touch through text and voice……for free. Regular Instant Messengers like yahoo, msn etc made it possible to chat with and leave messages for people in the opposite corner of the world. Google entered the arena of email, instant messaging, blogs, social networking et al and when Google enters something everybody looks up and the circle of influence undoubtedly widens. Flickr made it easy to collaborate on photographs. Social tools like LinkedIn, MySpace, Orkut attracted more users. Web 2.0 players like Delicious, Digg It, YouTube etc made it possible to share articles, posts, comments, and videos. There was almost nothing else that could not be shared on the World Wide Web.
Earlier attempts by a handful of companies to tap into collective intelligence to solve problems while adopting an innovative revenue-sharing mechanism evolved into Prediction Markets. Now, there is talk of social lending, collaborative books, social network analysis in organizations to enable effective collaboration etc.
Is all of this a clear case of United we stand, Divided we fall? Or is it the harbinger of absolute Mayhem on the World Wide Web? Who will organize everything? Is it ‘organize’able in the first place? If organizations don’t already have their own Internet Consultants, will there now be a new team of internet consultants in every organization, helping the latter to make sense of this absolutely amazing but chaotic World Wide Web?
What are the overall implications?
For organizations? I recently learned about the Second life initiative from a friend and colleague. So, will this be a perfect platform for finding a dream audience resulting in enviable revenue growth? The other implications related to employee-finding etc are obvious and can already be seen.
For politicians? Is it no longer going to be easy to fool the populace or take it for granted? CKP says “We are seeing the emergence of an economy of the people, by the people, for the people.” Now, is this the real democracy that we dream about?
For the media/news industry? Will they have to be really creative, quick, smart to be heard amongst the millions of genuine and closer-to-reality voices?
For People Technologies? There already is and will continue to be mind-blogging growth in day-to-day electronics that leverages on the internet. Such technologies are popular and will be increasingly ubiquitous and easy to own.
But I’d like to end with a googly. Will all this pull people apart as much as they try to bring them together? You don’t have to think hard to relate to what I said. How do you communicate with your friends, family and colleagues whom you can probably meet personally on a daily basis if you want to? Is it more on phone and emails, even if the person is sitting right next to your desk? How often have you seen people give incoming calls on the Mobile a higher priority over the person he/she is talking to in person….?
http://www.howwesee.com/ (Cisco’s website…)
http://www.thelivinglink.net/ - a collection of various resources
PS: Food for thought. All this inspires me to say that it certainly may take one person to start something…..but it becomes reality only when everyone joins in.