Social & Cooperation

Real-time social media, changing the world?

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in August 2009 ……


In 2009, I said “This article is a must-read for intranet managers: Is “Social Media” Really Changing the World? by Jared Cohen.” Today, in 2017 I’d say it’s a must-read for everyone. Have times changed?

Here are some quotes to whet your appetite. Cohen says:

“‘Social media’ is merely a way to describe new tools in an old and narrow paradigm where we measure success by how many people are reached.”
He talks about the organizations who participated in the recent Alliance of Youth Movements Summit in Mexico City and goes on to say:

“The groups who spoke at the summit were aware of their challenges: …. they used urls and websites instead of offices and leveraged open source platforms in the absence of budgets. In each of their cases, these technological tools are about more than the exchange and posting of information; they have also allowed them to organize and mobilize in real time to raise funds, circumvent restrictions on civil liberties, hold governments accountable, build tangible documents like petitions, orchestrate counter or parallel elections, and connect people with judicial and legal resources….”

“…The term ‘social media’ as we know it today appeared in July 2004 as a reference to participatory media like blogging, wikis, social networks, and related technologies. This is all well and good if technology was still primarily about connecting people to information, which is really the essence of media. However, this term has become obsolete in a world where technology has become a critical tool for connecting people not only to information and ideas, but also to other individuals, entities (NGOs, companies, governments, etc.), and more recently actual resources be they financial, medical, or judicial.”

“The power of technology today will be determined not by web traffic and viewership, but by its ability to strengthen and more importantly facilitate connections in real time.”


This speaks to my heart as I am currently working on one of the chapters in the “Global Intranet Trends for 2010” where I have identified the “real-time intranet”‘ as one of the emerging trends that is transforming the workplace web. The real-time intranet connects people to people in organizations where there is often no official means for making contact.

Micro-blogging is a good example. The use of Twitter or Yammer inside enterprises is extremely low today. However even the limited number of experiences described by the intranet managers who participated in the 2009 survey shows indications of what is coming.

One example is the intranet manager himself who said: “Micro-blogging has allowed me to build relationships with other members of the organization I would otherwise have no knowledge of or ability to influence.”

I am convinced that micro-blogging has a critical role to play in organizations and in the workplace web.