Viral Rumours, Human Behaviour and Twitter NOT shutting down

Have you heard the rumour that Twitter is shutting down because of abuse problems? It’s not.

Likewise, Facebook will NOT be charging from the Summer of 2016 (if Summer ever arrives around here)

As humans we love rumours and we love to propagate them, particularly alarming ones. There are situations where our love for the alarming causes false rumours spread faster than the facts.

Social media allows us to spread these rumours at a pace unimaginable in the past. But there’s more to it than that, the nature of social media makes these rumours highly believable and amplifies the rate of propagation.

People spread rumours for a reason, but there doesn’t seem to be too much consensus on what these reasons are. The list that made the most sense to me was this one:

  • People Spread Rumours When There’s Uncertainty
  • People Spread Rumours When They Feel Anxiety
  • People Spread Rumours When the Information is Important
  • People Spread Rumours When They Believe the Information
  • People Spread Rumours When it Helps Their Self-Image
  • People Spread Rumours When it Helps Their Social Status

From Social Psych Online.

I'm being a bit less social

I suspect that I’m like most people when I say that my on-line social activity has gone through a number of phases of evolution.

If you were to look through my Twitter feed or Facebook newsfeed from a few years ago you will see that they are much more active than today. One measure of this activity would be frequency of posts, which has dropped significantly. Another measure would be the number of direct posts where I write something directly in Twitter or Facebook, which has all but stopped. If you could measure openness you’d also notice that I’m less revealing about my emotions, my location, my family, my faith even. I’ve made a conscious choice to be less publicly social.

There are a number of reasons for this, some of them are about simplicity and basic privacy. One of the major reasons, though, has been the realisation that we are all public figures now and I’m not sure I’m ready for that.

At first I thought that being publicly social would in turn give the opportunity to be famous, I’m not talking about global fame just recognisable-in-my-own-little-world famous.

Then I started to see some people become social-media famous and it wasn’t a good thing to witness.

At one end I saw situations where people were trying to make a serious point only to be misunderstood and ridiculed. This isn’t a new phenomena, fame has always been like that, Francis Bacon put it like this:

Fame is like a river, that beareth up things light and swollen, and drowns things weighty and solid.

At the other end of the spectrum I saw people’s lives torn apart by being exposed to the shouting-mob. Jon Ronson researched the experience of many people including  Justine Sacco who he highlighted in this TED talk (below). The research resulted in him writing a book with the title: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.

There are many cases of ‘ordinary’ people being thrust into the public glare and shamed:

I’m not condoning any of these actions, personally I wouldn’t do any of them. What is scary is to see that these are ‘ordinary’ people thrust into the public glare with a few clicks on a screen and the amplification of the social platforms.

I’ve never liked mobs and I certainly don’t want to be part of one, or even associated with one. So, for now, I’ve decided to be a bit less public.

I did wonder about going far more private on my settings, but I’ve decided against that for now.

"The Rise of Dynamic Teams" – Alan Lepofsky and Bryan Goode

Continuing my review of some of the sessions from Microsoft Ignite 2015 the title The Rise of Dynamic Teams caught my attention.

When I saw that the presenters were Alan Lepofsky and Bryan Goode it was definitely going to be one to watch.

This session has an overarching question raised by Alan:

Could you be more effective at work?

Well of course I can.

All I had to do is to think back to the last time I was frustrated at work and there clearly presented was an opportunity to be more effective.

Promised Productivity

Alan also highlight that we’ve been promised improved productivity for decades now, but in his opinion not really been delivered it.

My personal opinion is that we have improved our productivity, but mostly by doing the same things quicker, rather than working in different way. A good example of this is email where we send far more messages far quicker, but definitely less effectively.

Framing the problem

Many of us can recognise the issue of information overload. We use many different systems and are fed information all the time.

Alan frames a different problem which I also recognise – input overload. This is the problem we experience when we think about creating something and can’t decided what it is we are creating or where we are putting it – Which tool should I use? Where did I post it?

The point is that we now have a multitude of choices of tools so we don’t necessarily need more tools, but we do need to tools to be simpler and to collaborate together.

Best of Breed v Integrated Suites

Alan reflects on two distinct approaches to collaborative tooling – one which focusses on the best of breed capabilities and one which takes a suite of collaborative capabilities.

These are illustrated below:

Best of Breed Collaboration Tools

Suites Collaboration Tools

The key to the suites approach is the content of the centre combined with the ability to integrate third-party capability and have data portability.

I’m not sure I would put everything in the centre that Alan does but I wholly agree with the principal. One of the significant challenges with a suite approach is that by choosing a suite you risk creating a lock-in situation. This lock-in isn’t necessarily one of data lock-in, what’s more likely is capability lock-in.

Intelligent Collaboration

Alan explains what he means by Intelligent Collaboration:

“This is poised to be the coolest shift we’ve had in collaboration tools we’ve had in 20 years”

“The ability for us to start doing really cool things based on intelligence is really going to dramatically change the way we work”

In the Microsoft approach this intelligence will initially be focussed on the individual, but will then extend to teams and organisations.

The systems that we have today have a very limited view of context and what view they do have they tend not to use with any intelligence. Take the simple example of email build-up during a holiday period. You can set up an out-of-office response, but wouldn’t it be great if something more intelligent happened.

If we take that simple example and add onto it all of the sensors that will soon be reporting on our well-being and location. You can then imagine getting a response from your bosses intelligent assistant asking you to attend a meeting on her behalf because her flight back from holiday has been placed into quarantine due to an outbreak of a virus for which she is show the initial symptoms.

Adding to the context will enable many more intelligent interaction.

Imagine a digital assistant system that made decisions based on – location, time, time-zone, emotional state, physical state and many more.

The Rise of the Dynamic Team

This is the point in the session where Bryan Goode adds the Microsoft perspective. He does this by focussing on:

Modern Collaboration

The perspective defined by Bryan is that teams will continue to utilise many different tools and will be increasingly mobile.

Microsoft are also investing heavily in meeting experiences, something that is in desperate need of improvement for all of us.

Intelligent Fabric

In order to enable modern collaboration Bryan talks through the Microsoft view of the need for an Intelligent Fabric.

Two examples of this fabric being built are Office 365 Groups and Office Graph.

Office 365 Groups provide a unified capability across the Office 365 tools for the creation of teams. A group created in one of the Office 365 tools will be visible in all of the other tools – Sites, OneDrive, Yammer, Exchange. Doing this makes a group a fabric entity rather than being locked into any particular tool.

Office Graph brings together all of the signalling information from the Office 365 tools and any other integrated tools. It’s role is to bring together the meta-data from different interactions and activities.

Personalised Insight

An Intelligent Fabric is one thing, but creating value from it is the important part.

In the presentation Bryan demonstrates Office Delve which utilises the signalling from Office Graph to create personal insights.

The personal insights currently focus on the individual, but they are being extended to provide insights for groups and organisations.

“Teamwork is becoming a first-class entity across our products”

Bryan Goode

I’m not going to explain the demonstrations other than to say that they are worth watching, as is the rest of the presentation.


Productivity and collaboration are going to be a defining features of future organisations as can be seen from the posts that I wrote on the Productive Workplace.

Microsoft is in a position to generate a lot of innovation and disruption by building on top of the Office 365 ecosystem. Groups, Graph and Delve are just the start of that. Having released themselves from the shackles of delivery by Enterprise IT organisation they can potential move at a pace that places them ahead of the pack.


The presentation and video for this session is here.

The video is also embedded below:

Going Tribal? Internet Tribes

Steve Denning recently wrote a post in Forbes highlighting what he regarded as 5 reasons why Google+ was died.

In Steve Denning fashion the article was well crafted and made some interesting points. It’s not the purpose of this post to assess the merits of that article; what has intrigued me was the responses to the article.

At one level Google+ is just another social media platform, but that’s not how many of the people who use it perceive it, or at least that’s not how they respond when challenged.

These are some of the responses:

I just checked your G+ profile – 2 POSTS on G+ and that’s it? Sorry but you have no right to write blatant hit pieces on G+ when you don’t even USE the product. Just because you don’t engage with people on G+ does not make it dead. You can check the author’s G+ profile here as he was to embarrassed to link it to his profile:


Steve, it may have been better if you did some research and reached out to the community.

This just has you looking really stupid, writing an article just for linkbait.
We have seen it so often from contributors to MSM articles.


The only problem with Google+ is that people like yourself don’t know how to use it. I love Google+ Like Bob Dylan sings; Some feel the rain, others just get wet.


LMAO – I’m just another ghost calling from the dead G+! As a ghost I find it has the most informative and well reasoned subject matter and commentary! Really fb is for baby pictures and Twitter is for abuse.

With many more to choose from; there are also a whole load of well-reasoned comments.

You’ll notice here that there are a some characteristics to these comments:

  • They claim an allegiance to a club or tribe.
  • They claim a value and exclusivity to being part of the tribe.
  • They define Steve as being outside of the tribe and hence of a lower value. This is especially true as the commentators try to flag him as a member of different tribes such as Facebook or Apple.
  • They are adamant and definitive about the veracity of the tribe.

These behaviours aren’t unique to people who use Google+, it’s a common human response. Anyone who has seen a gang at work will recognise these traits:

  • You are either in the gang or you aren’t.
  • Your gang is always the best gang and you are privileged to be a member of it.
  • If you aren’t in the gang then you are in some way undervalued, particularly if you are a member of a different gang.
  • Membership of the gang is a lifelong choice.

Steve also wrote a second article – Has Google+ Really Died? – highlighting, among other thing, the responses that he’d received:

Enge’s study also sheds an interesting light on the reaction to my article last week, “Five Reasons Why Google+ Died?” There was a torrent of comments on Forbes itself and heavy traffic on Twitter and Google+ itself.

A good part of the commentary was supportive, particularly on Twitter. The article was headlined on the Forbes leadership page and picked up by SmartBrief on Leadership.

The negative comments fell into three main categories. Some were heartfelt user pleas, along the lines of: “I and some of my friends just love Google+. How could it have died!”

Others questioned in a more thoughtful way the analytic basis for my citation of the declaration by Scott Galloway, the NYU marketing professor, that Google+ was “already dead.”

A third category of negative comments was vituperative in tone: the comments questioned my intelligence, my analytic capability, my bona fides, my work ethic, my motivations, my financial integrity and even my right to say anything about Google+ at all. Not liking the message, these commentators attacked the messenger.

The tone of these latter comments often seemed to resemble that of people defending a struggling religious cult, rather than the users of a mere software tool. Looming over the discussion, of course, is Google’s track record of abruptly canceling products that haven’t met market expectations. Is Google about to pull the plug on Google+ too? The fans’ angst is understandable.

It’s interesting that he highlights how the comments on Twitter were supportive, perhaps that has a lot to do with the comments coming  from members of a different tribe?

The Internet is littered with competing tribes and I wonder whether it’s really doing us more harm than good. I’ve done a bit of research into conspiracy theories lately and it seems that a lot of that has to do with tribal thinking – you are part of a special in-crowd if you believe something different to the mainstream. Internet hoaxes fall into the same class – how many of you have seen fake pictures of surfers at the Sydney Opera House recently? People spread them around because they want to enforce their place in the tribe that they subscribe to.

We all have a deep-seated need to belong, but I wonder whether we are allowing that to get in the way a bit too often?

We have a huge choice of tribes to join but how do we know which ones are good and constructive ones?

History has shown us that we are stronger when tribes collaborate, are there any really good examples of that on the Internet?

Sorry no answers in this post, just questions.

Millennial are just like everyone else! No surprises there then.

Millennials (also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y) are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates when the generation starts and ends. Researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.


Millennials are everywhere, both literally and figuratively:

They get characterised in all sorts of ways; the Pew Research Institute allows you to take a survey to assess How Millennial Are You? This survey includes the following questions:

  • Do you have a tattoo?
  • Do you have a piercing in a place other than an earlobe?

(I’m not very Millennial, but that’s not surprising as I was born in the 60’s which are nowhere near the 80’s and I’m lacking any bodily adornment)

Time Magazine characterised them as the Me Me Me Generation.

Recently IBM undertook some research to see whether all of the characterisations were true. You can perhaps imagine some of the findings by the title Myths, exaggerations and uncomfortable truths – The real story behind Millenials in the workplace:

In a multigenerational, global study of employees from organizations large and small we compared the preferences and behavioral patterns of Millennials with those of Gen X and Baby Boomers. We discovered that Millennials want many of the same things their older colleagues do. While there are some distinctions among the generations, Millennials’ attitudes are not poles apart from other employees’.

Our research debunks five common myths about Millennials and exposes three “uncomfortable truths” that apply to employees of all ages. Learn how a multigenerational workforce can thrive in today’s volatile work environment.

(Emphasis mine)

What were the myths:

  • Myth 1: Millennials’ career goals and expectations are different from those of older generations.
  • Myth 2: Millennials want constant acclaim and think everyone on the team should get a trophy.
  • Myth 3: Millennials are digital addicts who want to do – and share – everything online, without regard for personal or professional boundaries.
  • Myth 4: Millennials, unlike their older colleagues, can’t make a decision without first inviting everyone to weigh in.
  • Myth 5: Millennials are more likely to jump ship if a job doesn’t fulfill their passions.

Remember, they are called myths because they aren’t true. In the main the research discovered that the Millennial generation is just like the Baby Boomer and Gen X generations in all of these traits. There are some situations where it’s the other generations that are different – “Gen X employees use their personal social media accounts for work purposes more frequently that other employees” – but there are no polar differences between the generations.

So why is so much being written about the differences that the Millenials will bring, some of it is also research based, but I’m sure that there is a good deal of confirmation bias to it also (but perhaps I like the IBM research because it confirms my bias).

INSTA, TWIT and BOOK say goodbye to PLUS

Many gangs have people who hang around trying to join them; wanting to be part of the inner circle, INSTA, TWIT and BOOK‘s gang was no exception. PLUS has tried to become a full member of the gang for some time now but they’ve never made the grade.

Recently PLUS has reluctantly decided to stop trying and has decided to make its own way in the world.

Fortunately for PLUS they retained a shape-shifting ability in their DNA. Enacting this ability they have started the morph into STREAM and PHOTO whilst giving birth to a new child HANG. I suspect HANG will get adopted by the DRIVE gang leaving STREAM and PHOTO to go their own way.

INSTA, TWIT and BOOK noticed that PLUS had left, but they didn’t have a party. PLUS was one of many trying cement a place in the gang; PLUS may have been one of the noisiest but it’s not always noise that makes the difference.

The thing about being at the top of the tree, as INSTA TWIT and BOOK are, is the constant fear that someone is going to chop your tree down or build a bigger one right next to you.

Is Facebook making you glum?

Interesting conclusions to some research from August 2013:

On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it.

Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults

The important term in the title of this research is Subject Well-Being which is referring to how people experience well-being. In other words the research is assessing how people perceive their thoughts and emotions.

The way that the research did this was to send people text messages to survey how they were feeling over a 14 day period. The responses lead to the following conclusion:

The more people used Facebook at one time point, the worse they felt the next time we text-messaged them; the more they used Facebook over two-weeks, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time. Interacting with other people “directly” did not predict these negative outcomes. They were also not moderated by the size of people’s Facebook networks, their perceived supportiveness, motivation for using Facebook, gender, loneliness, self-esteem, or depression.

Personally I think that we are conducting a huge psychology experiment on the human race without too much in the way of risk assessment or training for those involved. As the evidence builds I suspect that our attitude to participating in these experiments will shift to be far more cautious.