Book: The Social Life of Information (2000, Harvard Business School Press)
Read in: Richmond BC, Ocean Shores, San Jose, Seattle (Lots of travel again....)
In the world of technology books, the Social Life of Information is "old". Written a staggering 7 years ago, this book was the face that launched a thousand excited and often misguided ships. Like most books that present a new, unusual and promising way to look at human interaction, many took the most simplistic implications of the book and called it the core - then went crazy trying to implement them.
Oddly, this is exactly what the book is warning against.
In this case, it would be warning against the application of technology or information without giving careful consideration to how the information is used socially. There are countless posts in this blog now about providing adequate context to information and tools. People need reasons to use tools and for the tools to provide them with both information and an indication of appreciation for using the tool.
JSB & PD are essentially arguing in the book that a focus on information alone does not provide value. Written in 2000 and now reviewed by me in 2007, it is apparent that this book struck a chord. Pre-Dot-Com-crash, there was much emphasis on the information infrastructure. Then this book arrived.
The Social Life of Information seemed to fit well into networking theory, a'la Duncan Watts. With these, and other works, the social networking boom was on.
I think personally, for me, I realized this was a pretty important book when I became rather bored with it in the middle. "I know all this," I was thinking to myself. While reading it, my mind kept wandering to the social media book I'm trying to write. I kept coming up with new thing to write in the book.
Soon, The Social Life of Information, was coated with scribbles related to my book.
And then I had to laugh at myself when I realized this was a large part of JSB's & PD's point. I had all the information to come to these little epiphanies, but it was only through the social interaction of reading their book did many of these concepts gel.
These thoughts gelled not because these guys were specifically telling me them, but because reading their book was part of a pattern of practice of my own in social media. Their ideas, my ideas, their experiences, my experiences and information combined to create context. Our social interaction created context.
The book was the impetus for several posts in this blog. Some of which I'm about to write and some I wrote while reading the book. These include:
- To Be Acquired in the World
- Context Goes Way Beyond Function or Why Social Media is not Mother Theresa
- The Sound of a Train in the Distance
- Communication in the Quest for Information
Blogged from the Sai Oak in Ocean Shores, Washington