The Web 2.0 Social Networking Revolution: Q&A With Author Matthew Fraser - InformationWeek

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The Web 2.0 Social Networking Revolution: Q&A With Author Matthew Fraser

The promise of the Internet age was the end of business as usual. Instead much of the business world has resisted the paradigm shifts of Web 2.0 and social media, but the Great Recession may prove the tipping point for widespread adoption.

Throwing sheep is how people get one another's attention on MySpace (smiley) and Facebook (poking someone). Matthew Fraser and Soumitra Duttra in their book, "Throwing Sheep In The Boardroom" merge the image of throwing sheep from the world of virtual social interaction with the staid corporate hierarchy of the boardroom. The collision of these two spheres and its potential to revolutionize business is the focus of their book "Throwing Sheep In The Boardroom."

Matthew Fraser

Matthew Fraser, PhD, is a senior research fellow at INSEAD, adjunct professor at the American University of Paris, and lecturer at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris. His previous books include Weapons of Mass Distraction. Fraser spoke with bMighty about the revolutions in Web 2.0 and social media and the opportunities he sees for small and midsize businesses to take advantage of these platforms to enhance business success.

Throwing Sheep In The Boardroom Book Excerpt: Enterprise 2.0: Wiki While You Work

bMighty: What first sparked your interest in social media and led to you writing this book?

Matthew Fraser: Like a lot of people my age [50] my first exposure was prompted by my son who was trying to get me to go on Facebook. I'd read about it [social media], but my son focused my interest. Then I was talking with Soumitra [Dutta, the co-author of "Throwing Sheep In The Boardroom."] and we were brainstorming book ideas and hit upon the idea of looking at the social life of corporations -- and that's really interesting.

bMighty: So where are we in the evolution of social media within corporations?

Fraser: With social media, there are three revolutions: social, political, and business. The social revolution has reached a tipping point with 650 million people participating and that's changing the way that people interact. Older people socialize differently, but younger people are all over it -- they check Facebook before they check e-mail.

Politically speaking, Barack Obama represents a powerful change in the way politics is conducted that has changed electoral politics. That Obama won the election using a Web 2.0 platform with MySpace, Facebook, text messaging, YouTube, etc. really showed the power of Web 2.0 to mobilize support and raise money. Obama had lots of donations under $200 -- he massacred Clinton and McCain [on small donations]. The race issue was a focus of the election and it was a powerful symbolic turning point. But Obama was also speaking to people on a different technological and demographic level -- he was cool. He had a Webcast made by Will I Am of The Black Eyed Peas. Barack Obama is a Web 2.0 superstar and the mainstream media didn't see it because they weren't looking there. It's transformed electoral politics in the U.S.

Business has not reached a tipping point. There's resistance to Web 2.0 platforms. The slogan in "The Cluetrain Manifesto" is "the end of business as usual." The irony is that here we are in the early days of Web 2.0 and the place where the revolution was supposed to take place [business] is where resistance is the strongest. What's scary to corporations with their vertical integration, hierarchy, rank, and opacity is that Web 2.0 culture is horizontal, there are no silos, and it's not closed. Moreover, the tension between Web 2.0 media and software is inherent in this structural dynamic.

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