"The smell of human flesh - getting to know and trust each other in a digital world"

  • apr 2010
  • Rene
  • 1
  • 1845
Voor iedereen

Please find below the abstract of my talk on Next10 in Berlin next Month. Would love to hear your feedback or thoughts, here or via twitter @renejansen how to make my talk "the real reason why people enjoyed being at Next10"!


In the emerging social media world, where we meet up with new people by means of their digital presence, we are facing an interesting problem: who is talking? 

In the physical world we have learned to instantly make up our mind during the first impression: we are going to like this guy or not. Research has taught us that mostly non verbal communications are used for this judgement. We look at moves, blinking of eyes, even the smell of someones breath. 

Now enter the digital world, where we have to pass judgement based on short text messages, perhaps some twitpics. I am fascinated about reputation management. Is an active user to be trusted more then someone who is only posting occasionally? Or someone with a lot of followers perhaps? But why are people following him? Easy to understand, easy mainstream? What and who determines if he is a real expert? 

In real life this is already a challenge, a social process of negotiation (where in ancient history we collectively decided to burn old women if we doubted if they were wise or witch - hence again the title: the smell of human flesh...), in the digital world the challenge is even bigger. The game might be the same (so, are we game changers...) but the playing field is definitely changing! 

In my presentation I would like to talk about reputation management within and around organisations. Who should you trust for his opinion about your project? Who should you ask to join your project team or sounding board? Does "the crowd" in and around your organisation really offer wisdom, or is their value to help you get in touch with the right experts? 

In my presentation I will try to answer these kind of questions, based on the practical experiences in 35 social intranet projects and the theoretical insights we gained from our (award winning) research on "designing social media for acting together" together with the University of Amsterdam: 

I will use examples from corporate organisations and Ministries to illustrate how we designed enterprise social media for them in a way that trustworthy dynamic profiles are being built, based on what people say and what they do, to be able to understand the simple questions: who is talking, should I trust him on this topic or not? The related design questions we will answer: how did our thinking change from "creating (again another) profile site", via online identity towards methods to judge the value of conversation partners? 

We learned that we have to design from a perspective of "sociality" instead of "functionality", analysing the digital trails of group dynamics, and combine these dynamics with the factual information people share about themselves. We learned we have to combine what people say with what people actually do. As I learned when I presented earlier versions of this presentation as a keynote speaker on large Dutch conferences like Intranet2009 and Enterprise2.0, I believe this presentation will inspire the audience to rethink the design of real valuable social intranets, and in a broader sense, how to design social media and online conversation techniques in a way that you can "nearly smell your conversation partner", to better judge his trustworthiness.

About Rene Jansen
Rene is founder and director of Winkwaves, a Dutch agency specialised in designing social media for knowledge management and collaboration. During the first internet hype he became the first Dutch PhD on Internet Strategy. He is also a research fellow at the University of Amsterdam as well as a visiting professor at the University Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. He is a passionate and inspiring thinker and story teller on conferences and in board rooms. He has worked for large international organisations like DHL, Capgemini, Deloitte and Vodafone as well as for well known Dutch organisations in all kind of sectors.
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next10.jpg apr 2010 Rene