I’ve started writing today on my new book: it’s an exploration of the changing nature of learning and working in the Social Age. I’ve been working with my communities on Twitter and LinkedIn to develop the structure and now am putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) for the first time. I’ll be sharing extracts as i write, so please do provide feedback.
We are connected as never before: a world of communities, overlapping, emerging, building, ‘liking’, connecting and fragmenting. The office is more of a notion than a place these days: something that you may access from home, the coffee shop or by visiting a building with four walls and some colleagues within it.
The historic divide between ‘work’ and ‘play’, between informal and formal spaces, has largely evaporated. The fundamental nature of what employment means is evolving as both organisations and individuals adapt to the realities of a global financial crisis, exponentially more powerful search and communication technologies and the permeation of mobile technology transforming how we work and how we learn.
We used to make stuff: engineering based upon science, experience, cheap labour and abundant resources. Then we exported the manufacturing and just designed stuff, convincing ourselves that the value lay in creativity and engineering excellence, in knowing things. As the Manufacturing Age gave way to the Knowledge Age, we could have rested on our laurels, but the world kept changing.
Today, we live in the Social Age, an age, post knowledge, where the formal and informal collide, where you are responsible for curating your own career, because nobody else will, where collaborating is more important than cohabiting, where knowledge is no longer enough. In the Social Age, it’s our ability to create meaning in an ever fluid world that counts.
For both organisation and individuals, this is a time to examine hereditary notions of authority and power, brand and identify and reconsider where we stand.
The Social Age is a time when the traditional hierarchies of power are collapsing. Whilst globalisation has enabled some large players to establish a dominant presence worldwide, the levelling nature of technology has enabled other, tiny, players to subvert them by creating niche, relevant, simple solutions that penetrate the market and take the world by storm. In the Social Age, anything is possible, especially if you build a community around an idea. Trust is more valuable than ever in the Social Age, but it’s no longer implied within a contract: jobs are not for life, they’re until something better comes along. Or until you get made redundant. Jobs are more like university courses: places where you learn skills, gain experience and make contacts that lead you on to the next level. It’s unlikely that you’ll study in one place your whole career.
The rock stars of the Social Age may not play guitar: they may be astronauts, software developers or just people with great ideas and high social capital. But they will have the power to form communities and communities give you power.
So everything is in change, but there is still stability: whilst the nature of work is more fluid than ever, whilst jobs are more transient, our communities become more permanent. Our personal networks can achieve far greater permanence and stability by inhabiting online spaces. And we are not limited to one: we have social networks, subject matter specialist networks, networks to amuse us and networks to challenge. We search out jobs through our networks and get head hunted by talent seekers who search for the nodes, search out the people who shine.
The ability to curate oneself in the online world, to coordinate and amplify your skills, to create meaning that is relevant and timely, these are key skills for survival in the Social Age.
This book is an exploration of living and learning in the Social Age. It’s for individuals, organisations, leaders and managers. It’s for anyone who is as fascinated as i am by how the world is changing in front of us and who wants to ride the wave. It’s for agile learners who recognise that our ability to remain relevant in an ever changing world sits within our own hands.