Sometimes the shortest route is a long one


12 March 2004

Sometimes the shortest route is a long one. I am still a little dubious about some of the social networking sites out there, but one thing I find absolutely fascinating is the insights they can give into how human networks and relationships really work.

I was reminded of this by a recent request I received on LinkedIn . It was the longest chain that the system permits: A->B->C->D->E . A wanted to get in contact with E. What fascinates me is that A, B, and D all work for the same Seattle-based company. A and D work in the same building. They sit less than 500 meters from each other on most days. Yet, in order for the two to make contact, they had to involve C who is yours truly and based in London, thousands of miles away.

I have been banging on about using social software style tools (networks, blogs, wikis, etc.) and techniques within the enterprise for some time now. I’m sure I managed to bore everybody at ETech 2004 by going on and on about it (except perhaps Ross).

The O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conferences (ETech) were the best. It was at this 2004 event that Flickr launched, which gives you some idea of the quality of speakers and sessions.

However, what has changed over the last few months from my perspective is that enterprises are now starting to come to us, wondering how they can apply these tools to their problems. We have been doing some interesting work at CYBAEA with some innovative companies which I hope I’ll be able to tell you more about in the future.

Social software is real, but to my mind the real value is within the enterprise.