August 2011 Theme:
Social Networking
Guest Editor's Introduction by Thomas Costello

When I recently met with Lawrence Miller, author of Barbarians to Bureaucrats, he relayed his premise that the Industrial Revolution basically took humans — who are “community” or “pack” animals by nature — and isolated them in front of machines. As a result, people were facing simple machines with redundant tasks and very little interpersonal interaction. As I think about social networking, I find it an interesting paradox that in the “Information Revolution,” we’re still individuals sitting behind (now complex) machines, but now we are able to reach out to each other through the machines.

The current social networking movement is our collective rediscovery of social interaction through a new medium. As such, a host of existing challenges (and historical solutions in the face-to-face world) are being tackled on the Web using new approaches. Likewise, there are a completely new set of challenges that require the creation of solutions, and these are being tackled through experimentation. As these new solutions are tested, embraced, or disproved, there is risk and exposure to users. But, as with all evolving technology solutions, we’ll pop out on the other side with a band of collective approaches that will form the social networking framework of the future.

With that in mind, I’ve selected several articles that cover a variety of topics related to social media. While everyone in the enterprise is focusing on policy statements, a vast array of other categories must be discussed to understand the current and future social media environment.

In “Social Media for the Collaborative Enterprise,” (login required for full text) Beverly Prohaska discusses the challenges of leveraging social media while simultaneously dealing with the reality of complex infrastructure, new devices, and underlying people issues. Her article defines a broad array of talking points for the CIO of any enterprise to consider and sets the stage for several of the articles that follow.

In “A Taxonomy of Social Networking Data,” (login required for full text) Bruce Schneier provides a brief overview and some clear descriptions of how to define the information provided to, used by, and analyzed from social networking sites. The authors of “Social Networking in Knowledge Management” (login required for full text) provide case studies on 4 firms and their experiments with social networking in their organizations.

In “Crowdsourcing to Crowdservicing,” (login required for full text) Joseph Davis poses several scenarios where the use of “human agents” to supplement, extend, or connect computing algorithms is essential for quality and may, in fact, be more cost effective than creating algorithms to automate the human interpretive element.

The authors of 2 different articles present potential solutions for preserving the privacy of personal data in social media environments.”Preserving Relation Privacy in Online Social Network Data” (login required for full text) focuses on “relationship” information, while “Location-Related Privacy in Geo-Social Networks” (login required for full text) explores how social sites that leverage location-based information may further compound exposure to user data.

If you’re thinking of leveraging an internal social media approach for innovation (product or otherwise), “How to Establish an Online Innovative Community?” (login required for full text) offers a detailed analysis of techniques and challenges to spur some alternative thinking about approaches for your effort.

The social media phenomenon is still in its early stages, so you can look forward to more material in many IEEE publications on this topic in the coming year.

Guest Editor

Thomas Costello is is the CEO of UpStreme, Inc. He’s also a member of IT Professional magazine’s editorial board. For more information, see