Proposed: though social networks and social media are excellent for capturing unstructured, organic information and conversation, I believe that we could do some really cool things using these tools with only a little bit of effort. It all comes down to choosing (even occasionally) to use similar tools and methods to move information along. Here’s what I’m getting at, and bear with me, because it’s not exactly what we NORMALLY talk about here.
Human Information Nodes
First, just think about this for a moment: we tend to ask certain people for certain information, certain groups for other information, and general audiences for more general information. Agreed? For example, if I have a question about ADHD or OCD or the like, I ask Whitney Hoffman. If I want some ideas on presentations, I ask Pistachio/Laura. If I want to know about money (or about 3,491,980 other things), I ask Christopher S. Penn.
Think about this concept as “human information nodes.” Think for a moment what a “network” of these nodes would look like. And by network, think of these folks as connected and reachable. (In this case, those folks are all on Twitter/Facebook/Blogs and tons more).
Nodes in General
So then we have groups of people. For instance, I could whip up a Twitter collection of folks who love virtual worlds and have lots to say about them. I’d add Eric Rice, Mal Burns, The Diva and dozens more folks, like Merlene and Christina Greene, etc, etc. Think of these GROUPS of people as informational nodes.
What’s Missing are “Rules”
Now, what if we had ways to tap this information still loosely, but with perhaps better protocol, and by better, maybe I just mean more efficient. (And you could argue that this isn’t necessary, so please do!) What if I wanted to tap this in some way that made it REALLY useful? What if the gestalt of these nodes of people and groups could communicate in some way that I could then collect/collate/republish/point and do so in a somewhat automatic fashion?
Probably the parts are all there. I mean, we have RSS, we have twitter/blogs/sms/pownce/podcasts, etc. We have feed readers and status messages and things like that.
But what if we had ways to “query” and “post” such that folks used the information in a format that suited their needs? Hmmm, am I making any sense? (This is quickly going down as a “rambly post.”)
What if you’re Kim Haynes who’s interested in HR concepts, in social media, in lead generation, and you want to reach out and ask a question about social media “listening” tools like Radian6? What if you’re asking which other tools would go nicely with that tool to build an advanced social media toolkit?
How would you ask that question? How would you get the information back? How would you process it? And how would you make that resource available for others to see?
Seems like the workflow could be stupid simple, right?
Ask question in Twitter.
Scrape answer using twittersearch.com and the @replies function.
Dump the results into a blog post.
Tag the hell out of it.
Right? Is that all I’m pointing out here?
And then, if it is, how could we “pre-build” packs of effective nodes, or addresses to effective resources to whom we can ask these questions? Is this nothing more than a blogroll?
Tapping the Matrix
The first Matrix movie had scenes where someone inside the Matrix would ask someone with a higher-level view for information, quite often in the form of a map. I’ve been obsessed with that concept forever, and I’ve used Twitter to gain access to information very much in the same fashion that characters in that movie sought their information.
What my point might be is that we’re out there creating all kinds of information all the time, and we’re all stumbling around reading each other’s output (or listening or watching). What are the tools we might use to start collecting this in useful ways? What would be the things we need to make the information live? What is the shelf life of the things we know? How do we know which things NEED a shelf-life?
If anything resonated in this post, I’d love your thoughts in the comments, so that we can have a further discussion. If this one just doesn’t make sense, that’s okay. Consider it a thought in progress. Because I’m out there, still thinking this one through. I’m wondering about tools and then the humans that feed the tools. And I’m wondering about what you think.
What do YOU do to cultivate such networks, to feed them information, and how do you apply this to the “things that matter” category in your life?