Wednesday, July 3, 2013

No More Privacy Than a Goldfish

Do you remember that scene from Pollyanna; the one where Pollyanna yells at Jimmy, "Don't be a scare-baby. Come on in!" 

And then Jimmy (who happens to be an orphan) and Pollyanna (who happens to be very wealthy) go into the old man's house on Pendleton Hill. First to creep on the creepy old man, but then after they meet the man behind the tall tale and decide he is not so bad, they return later to check out his astonishing array of clear yet colorful prisms. Crystal prisms that send sparkle and shine to every nook and cranny that will accept it. The prisms cascade colors of the rainbow across the room, throwing light and wonder against the wall and thus opening up just enough opportunity to let a little humanity shine in the dark place the old man hides in. If you are familiar with the classic family movie, you know that later in the film, the old curmudgeon crumbles and eventually ends up adopting Jimmy. 

All thanks to a little light and a prism.


Back in 2008, social media author and speaker Brian Solis started talking about something called a Conversation Prism; a research-driven infographic that looks at the social web and its different divisions. Now, it has been updated with the addition of categories to account for the new services being developed today, including enterprise social networks, social marketplaces, influence, quantified self and service networking. (source: The Next Web.) The most interesting thing about the conversation prism and the ideas that Brian puts forth is that there is evidence that a fundamental shift is moving away from social networks (I call them traditional social networks like Facebook & Twitter but it also includes things like enterprise email, share drives, etc.) to a direction that seems to be moving toward more concentrated communities and smaller networks. This shift is seen in not what social companies are succeeding, because too many emerge and dissolve every day. Instead, the prism is interesting because it clocks how people are assembling, supporting and using these offerings. With "YOU" in the middle, this illustration shows us that we are constantly able to listen, learn and adapt to the world around us better because of the array of services and functions that make up the conversation prism. It's a lot like what the old man in Pollyanna said when the two kids came back for a second look. "No more privacy than a goldfish!" he screamed as Pollyanna pushed her way into his world, into his house, into his heart. 

If the shift is correct in indicating we are making our way back to the very basic of conversation (one on one, face to face, small intimate groups of close-knit people who really like each other's company and have shared goals) as the most powerful way to communicate, that's cool. It'll be like going back to the good old days of meeting face to face...creeping on neighbors...sharing an afternoon of color and wonder. I can't wait.