Social and the Information Lifecycle

By Rich Blank posted 02-16-2012 00:34


Often times I find myself trying to explain to people what social is, why it's important, and why everyone needs to be part of a social network and every organization needs social technology for their enterprise.  So I thought I'd step back and look at social in terms of a simple lifecycle of information since we're in an AIIM Community.

A very simple lifecycle of information might include the ability to easily publish content (somewhere), discover, connect, subscribe, aggregate, filter, consume, and share.  Publishing content in a web site, a blog, wiki, or portal on the public web or within enterprise systems like SharePoint has been happening for well over a decade.   And we all have witnessed the web change publishing from few to many in a fast, cheap, and efficient manner in the forms of video, pictures, wikis, blogs, web sites, forums, etc...  So what about all those other action verbs in the lifecycle? 

While publishing became cheap and easy by anyone with web connection, all those other action verbs in the information lifecycle still needed to be addressed.  Yahoo, Google and then Bing addressed part of the problem of discovery with search.  There was a time when “Portals” were all the rage in the enterprise which essentially attempted to address publishing , aggregating, and consuming.  Along came RSS readers which attempted (past tense) to allow people to more easily subscribe, aggregate, and consume information once they discovered it.  Google even began to branch out beyond discovery to publishing and aggregation with Youtube, Google News, and Google Reader (RSS).  Google unfortunately failed several times when it came to connecting and sharing until recently with the Facebook knockoff they call Google+.    Social networks like Facebook, in particular newsfeeds and location based services they provide, have fundamentally changed the way people navigate and manage this lifecycle of information.  

Of course let’s also mention that tablets and mobile devices dramatically changed how and how quickly we create and consume information in real-time.  Cheap and easy ways to publish content have resulted in an overload of information.  The amount of information created continues to grow and grow into the zettabytes (that is 1 trillion gigabytes for all you home gamers).  Oversupply of information has become out of balance with an individual’s ability to consume, manage, and process this information lifecycle.  This, in effect, has diminished the value of published content among the ever-expanding sea of information chaos.  

One might best understand how social tools impact the economics of this lifecycle of information and the overload imbalance by thinking of social in terms of a funnel of sorts for each individual.  Not only has this social funnel increased the value and relevancy of information to an individual but social tools have also improved the speed and efficiency in which each of us manage the basic lifecycle of publishing, discovery, connecting, subscribing, aggregating, filtering, consuming, and sharing!



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