You may not be familiar with those people and their work. And you can also succumb to social proof and follow well-known people who are thinking about the same things you are, who've worked in similar jobs, and are subscribed to the same blogs. But if you want to break free from the echo chamber, you've got to leave your comfort zone and think about the things you don't know already.
Earlier this week, I attended the FASTforward '09 conference. It was hosted by Microsoft and the theme was "engage your user." It should've been hosted by Soylent Corporation with a theme of "social computing is people."
Three authors/thought leaders took the stage, each with a message about people:
In case you don't know, FAST is a firm focused on enterprise search. It's not a change management consultancy. So what gives with all of the people talk? The technology could have been Google Enterprise Apps, Lotus, or SAP and the message would've been the same – what matters is the people. (But strangely enough, I never saw a single people_ready image on site.)
You probably already know that most of the value in a conference comes from building connections in person. I met many of the minds who contribute to the FASTforward blog and they did not disappoint. I met Rob Paterson. Paula Thornton. Jon Husband. Jevon MacDonald. Euan Semple. And more.
When I reflect on the conversations I had with bloggers, speeches I heard from thought leaders, and lessons shared by people who've implemented the technologies in the field, it's clear that people are key to making social computing work. And I'm more convinced than ever that to make technologies work for people, we need a holistic approach of social business design.