In his latest blogpost, Professor Eddie Obeng issues a challenge to all social media sites: "Let's make Social Media really Social". Eddie seems to think that there is a big mistake with early 21st-century social media.
He writes of his love for 'swooshing and swiping' his screens, hearing in his head the god-like
voice of Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard, commanding the
device to “Make it so”. And it happens! Bigger, smaller, up, down.But then he complains that all the swooshing and swiping isn't natural or human, but is
fun and extremely rewarding.
He describes how we love
broadcasting to the world and updating our timelines, describing how "somewhere inside my head I feel like a celebrity, imagining all the adoring fans who are following my every word, every tweet. (In reality it's just one or two friends who I bug until they respond.) And it sort of happens! Diagnostics tell us the hits, people tell us their likes (and dislikes). It’s not interaction, it’s not banter, it’s not a real emotional and creative discourse, but it is fun and rewarding."
Eddie then gives us an insight into the strategy for the development of QUBE, the world's first collaborative-learning social medium for executives and managers. He says: "When we began developing QUBE, I was adamant about many things. Mostly that it replicated as much as possible the grown-up business environment with the Trojan horse of learning disguised at its core, so that we could achieve the vision of learning without boundaries. I had in mind a Lloyds-style coffee house atmosphere (important to be able to breakout and have sub-conversations) mixed with a Leonardo da Vinci-style artist's studio, with younger artists learning and applying the skills they needed, showing their sketches to each other, sharing their experiments with each other and surpassing their teacher." He claims that "This is human, this is interactive, it’s banter, emotional and creative, and it’s fun and rewarding."
Having begun to make his case against social media, Eddie invites us to watch his Google Zeitgeist talk, where he describes how 21st-century people have stuck to 19th-century habits of commuting, so that people leave a home well-equipped with the latest computer, super-fast broadband and 21st-century tech to travel to an office with a slow, locked-down 20th-century computer connected to the internet through a piece of wet string! He calls commuters ‘Time Travellers’, as they travel back and forward covering a distance of 200 years in an hour!
Eddie then insists that by sticking to our old habits we have no chance of creating real demand for what he calls Social Media 2.0. He states that "As long as we continue to pursue the 19th-century habit of moving atoms (our bodies) instead of electrons, we will have lots of boring, low-quality time on trains, in queues and in cars. This boring time we will fill using our mobile devices to interact with data. Why? Because although it’s a lower grade experience than interacting with people, it’s better than getting bored. And it avoids the potential awkwardness of social interaction or interrupting what a friend is doing (nothing, they are just composing a text to you!). So we broadcast asynchronously. And we read, and we watch cat videos selectively. It’s not interactive, it’s not banter, it's not emotional and creative, but it is fun and rewarding."
Finally, he suggests that the real challenge for Facebook, Twitter and other social media is their business model. By operating a business model where the asynchronous, non- verbal, typed-up data generated by users is the key source of revenue, they are trapped in the mode of intermediaries, keeping us apart and out of touch so that they can collect and track the data we provide.
He ends by saying: "I hope that Facebook 2.0, Twitter 2.0 and other early 21st-century social media platforms will begin to go the same way as QUBE, finding ways to allow people to interact over and above the data-driven activities. ... I do hope they will try to reinvent themselves. Because I for one don’t want to interact with data, I want to interact with people."
Professor Eddie Obeng had the pleasure to join Camila Batmanghelidjh, Founder of Kids Company and the opening speaker at the 2014 Association for Project Management (APM), at the annual conference. Eddie, Winner of the 2011 Sir Monty Finniston Award for his contribution to project management, is the founder and learning director of Pentacle, the world's first Virtual Business School. Eddie also created Pentacle QUBE, the first 3D, fully-immersive,
educational-social media platform.
The APM website describes his session: "The founder of the world’s first virtual business school, Pentacle,
didn’t disappoint as he took the audience on a motivational,
entertaining and interactive journey through the day’s experiences,
recognising the importance of people in project management and the
future roles they will play. "Asking the audience to set the agenda
for his speech with questions, he told delegates to look at the people
aspect and ‘step into their shoes’. 'We need to engage our people and
put fire in their bellies,' he said, 'it is then likely that they will
go and do something amazing.' "And he called on project managers to 'stop thinking about not changing' but to make some space for
themselves too. 'Take the time to ground yourself. Find something that
will help you refocus and then help you go forward.' "Telling
project managers they need to build trust, by slowing down and
minimising surprises, he added: 'Going slower means engaging and
involving people and building their trust before executing the project.' "On closing he had these words for all involved in the profession and their future projects, echoing the APM vision of a world in which all projects succeed. 'There
is no reason why projects can’t be perfect,' he added, 'It is possible
and we are learning how to achieve this right now. We are the ones who
change the world.'"
In a recent blogpost, Professor Obeng explains how, flicking through a dead-tree newspaper, he came
across a picture (see bottom of post) that reminded him of an exercise he used to use to explore how innovative participants' organisation were.
He describes the land of Caprona, inhabited by pterodactyls, dinosaurs and weird sea monsters. A land where somehow, although the world had
moved on and evolution had happened, Carpona had avoided real change altogether.
The quiz has been reproduced below; the question is "How long ago was the most recent thing in this picture invented?"
"... and what was it ?"
A. The Clock on the Mantelpiece: 14th century B. Paper: 105 CE C. Glasses: 1890 D. Suits: 1811 E. Chairs: 10th century BCE F. Graphite writing implements: 1565 G. Pens: 4th century BCE H. Chandeliers: 5th century I. The dye/colouring used in the hair of one of the participants: 1960s?
So, "How long ago was the most recent thing in this recent picture invented?"
It looks as if not much has changed in the 'corridors of power' over a couple of decades, not even a nod to the 21st century, and here's why.
Apparently, evolution happens because of the dynamic, continuous changes which influence the survival and
co-dependence of different species. Without external threats or with
the ability to dominate the surrounding environment or ecosystem, there
is no need to evolve. As a result the more power you have, the less likely it is that you are transforming yourself or your organisation to meet the challenges of the new world. This means that the better your market or leadership position, the more at risk you are of being left behind in our new world.