Riddle Me This: Why Is Social Technology Like A Box Of Chocolates?


"Why indeed" as Frank Gorshin may have well cackled to the Caped Crusaders.   Well Batman, ponder this for a moment.  

McKinsey defines social technology as: 

the products and services that enable social interactions in the digital realm, and thus allow people to connect and interact virtually
— McKinsey Global Institute

However, the term "social technology" is traceable way back to 1901, and my alma mater The University of Chicago, where it was described thusly:

social technology deals with both: with what exists as a revelation of what ought to be, and of the method of realizing what ought to be.
— C.R. Henderson


So which is it?  It's both of course.  It's the new tools and techniques of social engagement brought to us by services like Facebook, Chatter, Pinterest, Twitter and the many other innovations that are introducing new ways for people to connect, communicate, collaborate and shape community—and it's how we use these tools to shape our world, to "realize what ought to be."   What's different with these tools is that "what ought to be" is what we want it to be;  the billions of us using these tools.        


This unprecedented level of empowerment has reshaped the political landscape in the middle east with the Arab Spring, influenced wall street culture and held brands to new levels of mass market accountability.   What's really happening with social is that these tools are changing how we behave.  As these tools start to integrate across many different domains we will shape how we influence and experience the world around us in new and unpredictable ways.  


Mankind has invented other social technologies throughout history that have also changed the status quo in society—and in business.  In very dramatic fashion.        

Herein lies the opportunity for the social technology business leader, and the risk for the social technology laggard.  Disruptive technologies can change the competitive landscape by making certain competitive advantages, less or non competitive.   Or by creating new ways to compete and to create value.  

The social story is just beginning, and it's not about Facebook, it's about how companies use these tools to change the way that they compete and get things done.   

A Box of Chocolates

Social technology is like a box of chocolates because as Forrest Gump's Momma would say, "you never know what you're going to get."  That's what is so exciting with this technology—what will we do with it?  What will business do with it?  

For the first time in human history the people of the world are about to be connected through this technology—as one, as many.   What riddles of our time will we solve?

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