IBM and Numerati Revisited

Recently I posted my thoughts on 'IBM and Numerati'. I got several interesting comments on that post. And I was pointed to posts by Luis Suarez (mind you, an IBM-er) and Dave Snowden (an ex-IBM-er). I had already read them before posting my ideas on this topic, but didn't respond to their posts.

But too be clear. I was just as surprised to read about this topic as Snowden. And funnily, an IBM-er like Luis says this is not common practice at IBM either...

However, as I said, I do find the idea intriguing... and scary. True, like Luis and Ton Zijlstra commented, this is different from web 2.0. For me too, I like the web 2.0 approach more than the Numerati approach.

But I do find this approach closer to web 2.0 than my commenters. Luis says:

IBM is not routinely analyzing employees e-mail, calendars and chats without employees' permission or knowledge

But how does this relate to IBM Whisper and the opt-in 'Social Network tool' IBM runs internally. I posted on these two here. I wrote:

Erik goes on to show IBM Whisper: it is an automatically generated list of people you know and/or subjects you are interested in. It comes up with suggestions for documents, links, articles, etc that you might find interesting. (...)

Erik shows the Social Network Analysis tool IBM has in which email communication and Instant Messaging is tracked. Employees can choose to opt in or not. Type in a word you want to see the network for. The tool comes up with a diagram and/or map with connections between people on it.

Yep, these are opt-in, so employees have to give permission. But, as far as I understand the Numerati (again, I haven't read the book yet), it's not so secretive either. I mean: they're writing about it in Business Week!

So, if it's not secretive and employees can agree/disagree to opt-in, where does this bring us? Could this approach help us like the Techmeme is helping us find interesting stuff and be more productive? Or, in other words, is IBM Whisper and their Social Network Analysis tool helping the employees that use it be more productive? I agree with Ton, that you would always want to tell 'the machine' what to process and what not. It should always be your choice. But even then, relating to an older but interesting Wired article about radical transparency: if we would all be radically transparent (in the organization), would this help us make the company more productive, etc. (And there are limitation to transparency. We can also make things transparent that we can write down.)I mean, if you ask older people, they think your crazy to write out in the open (blog), tell all what you're doing (twitter), etc. And we look at them in a funny way and say: We're more productive than you are, just watch us and join us! Could the Numerati or (even more) transparency be the next step?

I'd love to hear what you think!


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