I just discovered this astounding article from Wheatley and Frieze on Using Emergence to Scale Social Innovation.
I do think the way social networking is done today is broken – or immature to say the least. How are we supposed to create working networks and provoke emergence the way Wheatley explains it, if we stick to groups of people?
What’s important in a network: the people that make it of the contributions they make?
When you look today at the way social networks work, you see communities of people, connected through people. IMHO, that’s not the way it’s supposed to work (it may be flattening to one’s ego to have loads of followers, but I challenge you to find any real usefulness in this kind of network).
Indeed, we can see people intuitively knowing this fact since they tend to agregate around dedicated web sites on specific topics. Look at Google Groups, LinkedIn groups or even Facebook groups! What connect these people are the topics around which they network. Yet, one topic alone isn’t enough. How are the topics connected?
The power isn’t in the @ (how people are now mentionned, such as @nicolasstampf for instance, but in the # (hash tag: the way topics are mentioned). Yet, today, social networks are organized around people. When you want informations about some #topic, you need to find your @people to identify when some #topic has been mentioned. Or to search a whole social network for these mentions (eg. Twitter). How inefficient is that?