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More on Social Software and UC

First, I'm very excited about the promise of social software and UC, and I feel that some of these tools will help us collaborate and communicate in ways never before possible. This goes beyond communicating online to actually meeting face-to-face. For example, with Twitter you can let people know where you are, and if people are in the same area (e.g., at the same conference, in the same hotel), you can meet in person. I mentioned in my article that when I was at the UCStrategies UC Summit in Arizona a couple months ago I became aware of someone who was at the conference and tweeting about it, and I was able to meet him. Several of the people I follow on Twitter were at SpeechTek last week and were able to find out about other people who were there and even make dinner plans together - all through Twitter. It doesn't require sophisticated location-based technology - just a simple tweet saying where you are.

While these public tools are great, they are limited and do not have the security that enterprises require. Again, I'm new to Twitter so I don't want to bash it in any way, and I'm sure there are ways to use it that I'm not familiar with yet. But for many situations, enterprise-grade solutions will be required. We're at the early stages of enterprise social software, and I expect that many of the demos I've seen over the past year will become shippable products or services in the next couple years.

Regarding my comment about people including information on their personal lives in these social networks, I feel that there is some information that people want to know, and then there's "too much information." Of course I'm thrilled that your little Katie won her first soccer match, and I love hearing about your summer vacation, and I'm sorry that your cat is sick - this all helps bond people, which is the goal. What I don't want to hear is the personal replies between you and your spouse on Twitter. You can reply to people so that everyone who follows you can see your reply, or you can send a private reply. Sometimes private is better - I don't want to feel like I'm eavesdropping into a personal conversation.

I think the problem might be that people who follow you, whether on Twitter, Facebook, or whatever, read the same posts and updates regardless of whether they're personal friends and relatives, or work colleagues, or strangers who want to hear your views on technology. It's important to realize that when you post something personal, work-related people can view it.

This brings up security issues, which are both personal and professional. Companies need to ensure that employees don't give away too much information, and will need to implement sets of rules for social software. Just as companies are developing etiquette and best practices rules for IM and UC, the same will have to be done for social software.

Perhaps it would make sense to have two sets of followers who get access to different posts or accounts - one for personal and one for business. Mark Stevens of Nortel responded to my suggestion about grouping followers, noting "I'd like to see it implemented using simple tags. I could tag my post as 'work' or 'family' or 'friends' or 'UC', and my followers would filter based on the tags." This is a great idea, and hopefully we'll start moving in this direction.

And before I forget, my Twitter ID is blairplez - I'd love to hear from you.