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Less is more for enterprise 2.0 collaboration

I'll be the first to admit it. I don't have a lot of friends. Facebook friends that is. I have 77 connections on Facebook -- a minuscule amount compared to most. I don't friend my coworkers (I use it strictly for personal use), and I didn't friend my entire high school class (props Oceanside HS). While I'm selective about my online friends, my perceived popularity to the outside world might be anti-social at best, pitiful at worst.

At first, this might sound surprising coming someone who works at Inmagic -- a company that develops a product with a core focus on social technology. But here's my reasoning behind it.

I feel that I have a better shot at staying connected to the people that I'm most interested in keeping up with. Likewise, on Twitter, which I use almost exclusively for business, I follow people that are of interest (not always just because they follow me) and it keeps my numbers relatively low.

I'm mostly interested in what our customers, partners, colleagues, industry experts -- and non-experts for that matter -- are talking about. Again, the upside is that I'm filtering through less fluff (40 percent of Tweets are pointless babble), and see more topics that are actually of interest from like-minded individuals.

A recent article on ZDNet, "Online relationships: Quality vs Quantity," talks about how we manage our online relationships can influence knowledge management and E2.0 behavior. And it got me thinking.

Just as free isn't truly free without consequence, an endless supply of connections to people and content isn't without consequence either. Certainly more readily available information allows us to become more informed and make better decisions. And connections to more people opens up new opportunities and modes of discussion. But at what point is it too much of a good thing? You know, the whole information overload and pointless babble thing?

Maybe it's serendipitous that I work at Inmagic, because the beauty of Social Knowledge Networks (SKNs), and perhaps part of its secret sauce, is that it is social knowledge management based on quality, not quantity.

Yes, the goal of an SKN is to connect people and content, to put it simply. But it is not a popularity contest. Even if only a minority of users contribute to the system through blogs, comments, or tags, the system will still achieve its objective. Unlike the way consumer social media sites are sometimes used, the objective of the SKN is to create a high-quality repository of information and content, not just a tremendous mass of users.

While we might be moving from stagnant, siloed information to an information free-for-all, as fueled by consumer social networking habits, inevitably we'll each as individuals and organizations find our information sweet spot -- not too much, not too little, just the right mix of information volume and veracity.

And for me, I may have fewer social networking connections, but their value to me is greater and as a result, I am more efficient in keeping up. Perhaps (hopefully?) the same will hold true for my E2.0 and collaboration habits.

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