Excuse Me Info Week, Social Networking Has Already Taken Off

In a recent edition of Information Week Canada, there appears an article called “What if social networking doesn’t take off?”. It is written by Robert Parkins who, thanks to a quick Google, is also editorial Director of Canadian Government Executive Magazine, isn’t on Twitter, nor could I find him on Facebook (unless he’s grown a beard and moved to Santa Barbara but please feel free to correct me if I am wrong).

On reading his article, I commented about it on Twitter and @shawnpisio asked the obvious: “Was it written in 2003 or something”.

Sadly it was not. Robert’s article cites a survey done by Synovate in Sept 2008, that asks the question “do you know what social networking is”. The result: 58% of people surveyed in 17 countries across the world did not.

I was actually surprised that 48% did know. My mother who is approaching 70 is on Facebook but if you were to ask her what a “social network” was, she probably wouldn’t have a clue as to what you were talking about. Perhaps the issue here is in the wording of the Synovate question.

In the article Parkins suggests a reluctance to embrace Web 2.0 as the cause of this apparent ignorance. Excuse me Mr Parkins but 150 million people on Facebook and 180 million worldwide blogs can’t all be wrong. Perhaps its a reluctance within a certain (ahem) age demographic (my mother accepted).

According to Parkin’s, the tide is already turning on 2.0, especially in his area of expertise: government.

One need only take a look south at the recent success of Barack Obama’s campaign to see how far from true this is. Obama harnessed social networks effectively to build awareness of his campaign and reach and motivate people who otherwise wouldn’t have voted. His first blog post as president was posted shortly after his inauguration. Hardly the use one would expect to see of a dying medium.

He’s right in one area though it remains to be seen how the public sector will harness web 2.0 effectively but a survey that found that 58% of respondents didn’t know what social networks were doesn’t mean they should ignore the phenomenon altogether.

Far from the tide turning on web 2.0, the crest of the wave isn’t even upon us yet. Many traditionalists like Parkin have yet to be convinced and with many similar naysayers out there, this implies a huge opportunity from people just waiting to be convinced!

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