One of the best blog posts I’ve read in a long while is by Adam Rifkin.
Adam posts and twitters under the name “I Find Karma”. The post I liked was called “Pandas and Lobsters: Why Google Cannot Build Social Applications…” – and amongst other things drew the analogy of our behaviour on Google being very “panda like”. I love analogies – and Adam’s navigation of the social media landscape in this way is well worth a read.
Here’s the intro of the much longer article:-
After researching what pandas do all day, I was struck by how panda-like we are when we use the Internet.
Roaming a massive world wide web of forests, most of our time is spent searching for delicious bamboo and consuming it. 40 times a day we’ll poop something out — an email, a text message, a status update, maybe even a blog post — and then go back to searching-and-consuming. For a decade, Google has trained us to optimize our pandic selves:
The kind of application that Google knows how to make well are the kind that embody a panda’s “eats, shoots, and leaves” model of Internet behavior. Pandas spend every waking hour foraging — aka searching — and consuming. The most successful Google applications serve such a utilitarian mandate, too: they encourage users to search for something, consume, and move onto the next thing. Get in, do your business, get out. Do a Google search, slurp down information, move on. Pull up Google maps or Gmail or Google news, do something, leave.
I’m constantly reading blogs and articles in the press. A couple of articles have filtered through the reading pile in the last couple of days that are relevant to this panda analogy.
The first was an article in Intelligent Life (currently free to download as an iPad magazine). The article was called “Appleism v Googleism” by Robert Lane Greene – and discusses the clash of cultures between gadget-maker and search engine. The writing is great – and one particular point in the middle of the article struck a chord:-
It’s worth noting “to Apple” is not a verb.
There’s a subtle difference between the activity – Googling – and the long term affinity/passion that many have for Apple.
This linked through to a recent article I’d read by “corporate anthropologist” Karen Stephenson called “Network Management” which she had written back in 1997.
What is a network? In today’s popular literature and business press, there is a lot of talk about social and organizational networked the role they play in fomenting change. Typically, this literature focuses on the notion of “networking” as an action orientated, i.e., network as a verb……
There is a second meaning to network, however, and it is far more profound than the first. ….. network as a noun…
The three separate threads help me to conclude that Networking can be a very short-term – “eats, shoots and leaves” – style of activity. We’ve all heard of turnover focussed “busy fool activity”. Don’t get suckered in to networking without a strategic objective – it’s definitely in the “busy fool” category!
I think that more and more people are coming around to this way of thinking. I read a great blog post yesterday by Penny Power (founder of Ecademy). In her post, “#Slow Media – can we get off the Social Media hype and take care of one another”, she has one quote in there that particularly resonates:-
the ‘digital age’ that believes that connecting means ‘manipuating a connection for my own gain‘.
Networking whether face-to-face or via social media needs to be a slow process – building trust. There are way too many insincere “eats, shoots and leaves” networking activities going on. Your Personal Network should be your “fan club”/supporters – and you theirs … it’s not the people you sell to or manipulate.
Building a Personal Network, I believe is nurturing and creating your most valuable asset to last you a lifetime. It’s a strategic issue – where sometimes networking is a tactic.
Don’t be a panda with your Personal Network (pandas are an endangered species, you know!?) …..
“Apple is not a verb.” While I don’t aspire to join the ranks of Apple fandom (despite the iBook I’m typing this on) I’ve been working desperately to stop being a panda this past year. At least now I have a lexicon for the two behaviours.
Network is a noun. I’m gonna go write that somewhere.
Thanks for feeding my head daily, Phil. The frequent posts are building momentum in my brain.
Happy to feed your head – and always grateful for your response! Thanks. P