Monday, July 6, 2009

New means of Communication

Last November I looked with disbelieve at CNN realizing they were relying on blogs to comment the situation in Mumbai. The real up-to date information was coming from bloggers that combined data gathering in their neighborhood with reporting. It allowed the world to follow. Combined with the iPhoto mechanism put in place several months ago, it transformed the way TV’s are reporting events.

But the Mumbai situation was only one step in the change, the Iranian elections and follow-up events have taken this a whole new direction. Twitter has become the center of the battle, and I have been fascinated seeing the events unfolding right from my TweetDeck screen. Courageous people have and are still keeping the world aware of what happens. Several of them seem to have disappeared in prison or even worse. But at the same time we have started seeing the limits of this real time reporting. Israelis, posting themselves as Iranians, have started trying to destabilize Iran through false information.  Fortunately, the Twitter community has quickly reacted and pointed at their feeds as being hoax. They are probably not P1000176the only ones conveying wrong information and as such putting people’s life in danger. But that’s probably the least of their problems.

Now, if we bring this to a business community, we will, albeit at a different level, have similar phenomena. We can learn from what happened and put a couple elements in place:

  • First, clearly establish rules of engagements between the members of the community. In the context of Iran, this was obviously not practical, but in a business community it is.
  • Second, motivate reporting of unacceptable behavior
  • Third, warn and then exclude the participants that do not follow the rules of engagements and make this visible

In doing so, one establishes a certain discipline between the members of the community and ensures they are followed. All members quickly understand the implications of not following the rules. Occasionally refreshing those and reminding members helps keep a community functioning well.