Dec. 12, 2007 SDF Social Networking at Work

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On December 12, 2007 at Pillsbury Winthrop on Palo Alto, the SDForum Emerging Technology SIG and the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign Alumni hosted Nokia’s Joe McCarthy’s presentation on Social Networking at Work.

McCarthy has done quite a bit of research showing that when people get to know each other as friends in the workplace they are more likely to work well together. They have higher job satisfaction and are more likely to stay with the company. The trick is turning a familiar face in the hallway into a friend. McCarthy combined the Bluetooth capability in a cell phone with a triggering device on LCD displays around the office and linked them to photos on Flickr. Two employees could approach a display and see three pictures associated with the other person. They might be pictures of family, vacations or hobbies. It gives a chance to start a conversation and get to know the other person.

There are challenges to be dealt with. People need to consider what kind of images are out there on the web and whether they want them seen in a work situation. Some people and cultures may be offended by some images. They might simply violate company standards. The display in the kitchen was used the most, mainly by younger employees and towards the end of the week.

The wireless network tracks the employees around the building. If you are in your boss’s office, people will walk by and know you are in there even if the door is closed. McCarthy said there were no sensors in the bathrooms, but you see the possibilities here. Companies already track every phone call, e-mail, web search and keystroke. Now it will keep track of everyone you talk to. It takes corporate stalking to a whole new level.
McCarthy and the remarkable research and development team at Nokia prove it can be done. What will be done with it will be our decision. The point about keeping an eye on emerging technology is that you get see the problems and work out solutions ahead of time.

If you would like to see the slides of his presentation, the URL is

As for old-fashioned social networking, the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign Alumni added to the already festive atmosphere of the evening. According to Roland Geisler and Tammy Nicastro, there are over 19,000 alumni in the Bay Area. By the size of the crowd, most of them were there that night. The fabric of Silicon Valley has many threads back to UICU. I look forward to meeting them again.

Pictures below.

The large crowd.

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The smaller crowd.

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License plates, mugs and t-shirts!

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Copyright 2007 DJ Cline All rights reserved.