Friday, August 03, 2007

Social bookmarking in business

I've been using for a few weeks now and I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised. Social bookmarking is a far more efficient way to pass around links to associates, friends, family, etc. than popping open another email since the links can be pulled off the web site or taken from an RSS feed. Especially nice is the fact that readers can pull feeds by tag. For example, if I tag a link as "Sangeet" (meaning that the link is for my niece), my sister simply goes to Now my sister has the link bookmarked and she can skip all of the other links that are unlikely to interest her.

Unless of course she is interested in a pragmatic QoS solution for wireless mesh networks.

Hint: she isn't.

But a business associate I'm working with is. He has to make a significant business decision and needed to understand some details around wireless mesh networks in order to make that decision.

This started me thinking about social bookmarkings' use within business. We pass links around every day to coworkers and associates. We pass around useful things like articles related to our business. Occasionally we even pass around slightly less serious stuff like how math nerds have solved checkers. But each time we pass something around, we add to the email noise pollution. Even worse, readers on their Blackberry and Treos are unlikely to follow through on links - even if the links are relevant and important. Bottom line: if the reader can't click on a link and immediately browse there on their desktop machine, they are unlikely to follow through. Plain and simple.

With the use of RSS feeds growing amongst the ranks of business users, the ability to plug my links into someone's RSS reader means they are seeing the links when its convenient to them - not when they're hopping cell stations on a fast moving train that dives into and out of tunnels on a moment's notice. It's easier to get back to. It's easier to be reminded of the next time they pull up their news reader/bookmarks. It's easier because the link is no longer competing with 200 other incoming emails that arrived the same day. It's easier because by subscribing to the feed, they're implicitly saying that they care about those links because they control who they have to subscribe to and who they don't. Something they can't do with email.

Of course, the proof is in the pudding. This is a change in how people work and I don't expect it to take off immediately. The fundamental step is accepting the use of RSS feeds - something that, ironically, the business side of technology companies have been slow to adopt. However, the notion of feeds are here to stay. Heck, some folks are even using it to deal with... *gasp* email overload.

I'll be trying it with some of my cohorts... stay tuned...

(if you subscribe to my blog's RSS feed that is...)


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