Forrester hits the mark on social computing

The folks at Forrester Research have released a new report that’s worth the price ($299). Called Social Computing, How Networks Erode Institutional Power, And What to Do About It, it is a deep, insightful, and, I believe, accurate vision of where we’re all headed in a disintermediated and people-empowered business culture. Forrester was kind enough to let me read the report, so you might think this endorsement is tainted. That would be your loss, because this report is so true to my vision of the future, that I could’ve participated in writing it.

The headline is the shifting of power in our culture from institutions to communities, something the company calls “Social Computing.” Three cultural trends are combining to influence the whole — an aging, more socially motivated population, the internalization of technology among youth, and a society that’s defined globally.

“Today’s more socially connected buyers,” the report says, “are already showing signs that they are: less brand-loyal…less trusting…and more independent…” This is shifting innovation from the top to the bottom, which is a clarion call for businesses to look at things differently.

This will impact brands, governments and borders, the report says. It ends with this insightful conclusion:
As institutions lose the power to shape information, markets, and behavior, that responsibility will fall to communities. But fastchanging technologies and volatile social forces will make the creation of new social control mechanisms a challenge. As individual self-interest collides with community-owned assets, a “pollution of the commons” (of the sort we’ve seen with spam e‑mail) will threaten the progress of Social Computing.
Suffice it to say I agree with this. We will one day have to reckon with the lack of an internal governor in our culture. I’m excited about not only what happens after we find it but also the process by which that comes about. If innovation is truly shifting to the bottom-up, then we’ll all play a role somehow.

This report puts into plain language a lot of the things I associate with applied postmodernism. The new mantra is “I experience, therefore I understand.” Forrester may have taken a different path, but we’ve both ended up in the same place.

Again, this report is worth the money to media companies that so desperately need the foundational understanding it provides.


  1. Terry — Rupert looks smarter every day.

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