future of book; distraction by web & impact on work; inspired by @gunnarherrmann tweeting: http://goo.gl/xxz6C

A friend of mine tweeted about an article in the guardian about the future of books (http://goo.gl/xxz6C). When I read through the article (recommend reading!) I stumbled across the following paragraphs:

[…] In some ways, though, the question of whether we do our reading off paper or plastic is the least interesting one. More interesting is what we’re reading, and the manner in which we do so. A large number of literate westerners spend most of their waking hours at computers, and those computers are connected to the web. The characteristic activity on such a computer has been given the pleasing name “wilfing”, adapted from the acronym WWILF, or “What was I looking for?” You work a bit. You check if it’s your move in Facebook Scrabble. You get an email. You answer it. You get a text. You answer it. Since your phone’s in your hand, you play Angry Birds for five minutes. You work a bit. You go online to check something, get distracted by a link, forget what you were looking for, stumble on a picture of a duck that looks like Hitler, share it on Twitter, rinse and repeat.

Sci-fi author Cory Doctorow has called the internet “an ecosystem of interruption technologies”. TS Eliot’s line “distracted from distraction by distraction” seems apt. […]

It made me think about the fact how much time people spend on Facebook. It ranges from 7 hrs (Nielsen 2010; http://goo.gl/3Onw5) to 4.35 hrs (FastCompany 2011; http://goo.gl/R9u6N). Considering that Facebook is nothing but a service w/t content it’s impressive what they’ve achieved in terms of keeping their users busy.

And exactly that is one of the major concerns of executives around enterprise 2.0/social business: distraction by the new social thingy. People are supposed to come to work to get their stuff done. That’s what they’re paid for.


If you look at most employees today (which is definitely pre-social business times) the least thing you’ll find is continuity in their work day. First there’s e-mail. I’ve recently read somewhere on the web that today’s e-mail behavior has simply to do with endorphins. You answer the mail, that’s a good feeling, The other one thanks you, wohooo he just made your day. E-mail now being mobile doesn’t make things much better. There’s nothing more annoying than colleagues answering e-mails all day from their 2 week vacation getting involved with every single thing. Some people have e-mail turnaround times of less than 5 minutes. Hey, have you wasted one single thought on the subject before popping your answer, mate?? E-mail (in it’s current state) is a pest!

Then there are (must attend; totally not optional) meetings, conference calls, people popping by, cigarette breaks, lunch breaks, stretch breaks, breaks from stretching and so on and so on… Actually, looking at some people the last thing they need is another excuse for not doing their stuff.


Let’s say involvement in Facebook is 5 hrs a month on the average. Natural reaction of a telco executive: I don’t want people to spend 5 hrs a month in social stuff at work.


So 15 minutes a day of adding value, enriching information, establishing the personal network, helping out and participation isn’t something desirable?


We have to find way to ensure that participation in social business services isn’t considered to be something else than work. Therefore they have to be part of business operations. Classic business services (e.g. project, sales, product development) have to resonate on the inspiration and influence of social (and commercial) media. They have to pick up the best bits and pieces (steal with pride!) and use them to actually add value to information and knowledge workers every day job. Social business may no longer be perceived as an distraction from work. It has to be accepted as THE opportunity to bring back efficiency, effectiveness and collective powers to the digital workplace.

Published by Philipp


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