Monday, December 08, 2008

Pittsburgh Social Media Goes Global

Here is one reason why I think Pittsburgh will help transform the distance-trust economy:

It used to be, for example, that an information vendor might charge big bucks for access to a database of content aggregated from newspaper publishers around the world. Now you can do that for free on Google. In the field of scholarly scientific, technical and medical research, the push for so-called open access to peer-review research is also challenging the status quo.

Now comes the new focus, on the research side, on how to add social networking into enterprise search – let’s call it social searching.

Vivisimo offered a compelling, practical case for what can be done. It demonstrated its enterprise/social search service that allows users to enrich their retrieved materials by category tagging, free-text annotating, bookkeeping and sharing. Others in the organization, down the hall or a few time zones away, can access and track their colleagues’ work through dashboard-type functionality. That new, user-generated layer itself becomes an asset by allowing individuals – again, in the same building or half way around the world – to quickly identify pockets of expertise within an organization. And that can be a catalyst for sharing knowledge quickly and avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort. But that horizontal collaboration can skip over organizational boundaries, and that can be a threat to unenlightened management.

As Stacy Monarko, a Pittsburgh-based Vivisimo product manager said, “The next best idea may not come from the board room.”

Now imagine the next big idea not coming from within Pittsburgh but from its Diaspora. I understand blogging as a very efficient form of knowledge production. The TECHburgher blog post about Vivisimo's big splash also offers a few anecdotes about putting blogs to work. Whether anyone realizes it or not, the Podcamp Pittsburgh community is a strong regional economic asset. If you don't believe me, then ask the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

1 comment:

Marginal Designs said...

I wholeheartedly agree, and this reminds me of something I felt during the last mayoral election here in Pittsburgh. There were a lot of bloggers out there who were politically active and tried to get the word out about alternative candidates, but the returns made it apparent that the blogging community didn't have much of an impact. Events like podcamp are great for bringing people into the world of blogging, but much more can be done.

I'd love to see efforts made to teach, support and encourage people in underserved populations to get online and join the conversation. It's something i wrote about in one of my previous blogging projects:

An effort like this would be a benefit everyone involved. For the people learning to use social media, it would give them important skills and allow them to access a whole new community that they couldn't before. For other bloggers, it would increase the potential readership and market for their work. And for Pittsburgh in general, it would be economically advantageous as the Pittsburgh cultural trust points out.