Elmer Sotto of Facebook Canada at DemoCamp Toronto 30

Unbelievably, the 30th edition of DemoCamp happened in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, and I was there to hear the keynote from Elmer Sotto of Facebook Canada, as well as see the short, live demos from four local startups. I’ll post my notes on the demo in a subsequent post, but I’ve been thinking about Sotto’s exploration of the question of what is social: although he was focused on the consumer market, I saw a lot of parallels with social business. He saw three basic drivers for a social environment:

  • You are proud of what you do and want to share it
  • Others want to see what you have to share
  • You specifically share with your social network

He spoke about having a social platform that is optimized for telling stories, where those stories are for the purpose of building identity, sparking conversation or deepening relationships. Or, as we might say in the social enterprise world: stories for reputation, collaboration or building our social graph.

To be truly social, a platform must be social by design, not just have share/like buttons tacked on after completion. Software that has social in its very DNA must be shared to be fully functional; can you imagine Facebook if you were the only one on it? It must also mimic real social norms in order to be successful: amplifying existing social or cultural activities, not trying to create new ones, and extending an existing social graph rather than creating a new one.

It’s interesting that Facebook is taking on the challenge of replacing the mostly unstructured data of notes with more structured semantic data to allow the surfacing of that data to parts of your social graph: instead of just “liking” something, they are allowing applications to create the structure of user/action/object for users to interact with that application.

The latter part of his presentation turned into a bit of a Facebook ad, including video from the F8 conference about the new Timeline feature, but I found some of his points were surprisingly useful in an enterprise context.

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