Robert Scoble has weighed in. I think Scoble raises some excellent points in this post. I have wondered lately if large corporations can really handle social computing. There is too much risk. And in the interest of full disclosure, let me say that I am a Product Manager on a social computing platform at Microsoft. I spend a lot of time thinking about risk. He is tough on IBM, Oracle, and Adobe but toughest on Microsoft. I think he is daring Microsoft to do it but daring Microsoft to do it in the right way. Take the risk, he is saying. He backs Google only to the extent that they will know how to use the technology but hints at what the future of Twitter will be if Google buys them…oblivion. They will chop the code up and use what they can to further their own initiatives but Twitter will be no more.
So, what is the risk? We cannot control community. We can only enable it. This is anathema to a corporation. It appears to work at cross purpose to the reason for a corporation to exist. We have built a business culture that is founded on the idea that control comes from the top down. We currently operate under an Industrial Information Economy as opposed to a Networked Information Economy. Yochai Benkler speaks about this in length in his book, The Wealth of Networks. The world is moving on but corporations are having trouble keeping pace. Oh, did I say it’s about the risk? It is really easier for the corporation, under the old model, to buy things and chop them up, thereby gaining the assets and eliminating the competition. Corporations know this model and can explain it to their stockholders. How long will this last? It is like sweeping back an incoming tide with a broom.
Twitter provides a wonderful window into the world. With the right infrastructure (translate no more Twitter Whales) it could be an amazing tool. What if Microsoft just bought it and let it be what it is? Wouldn’t that be amazing? Oh, and stockholders…..thar’s gold in them thar tweets.