Is this blog post good enough?

After watching the following TED talk by Clay Shirky, Institutions vs. Colaboration, his concluding sentence has really stuck with me: “If we can see it in advance and know it’s coming… we might as well get good at it.”

Shirky is talking about what he sees as the transition between the traditional organization of labour inside a company to a more collaborative framework. I don’t dispute his conclusion, but it makes me wonder whether the idea of “getting good” at something is enough in today’s world. I’m sure that it wasn’t Shirky’s intention to suggest that we should only become “good enough,” but taking it slightly out of context in this way raises some interesting questions.

With so much flying at us in today’s connected world, it is difficult to master everything. I’ve found that I’ve had to pick and choose what I want to spend time on in order to “get good enough” at it in order to not feel like I’m making a complete mess of things. Added to this is the public nature of connecting on-line, which adds to the pressure of representing yourself effectively. Gillian Edwards, in her blog post “Are You Handsome Enough to Work Here” outlines how the important perception is, even if it shouldn’t be. Edwards gives the example of a study (Busetta et. al., 2013) in which different pictures were attached to identical resumes in order to find out whether the picture had a positive or negative effect on call-backs (it did). This is just one illustration of the importance of presentation, whether used to positive or negative effect. Extrapolating this resume example into the on-line world, any information that you provide can have a detrimental effect on your chances of success.

Interaction is key when building networks. In Kadushin’s Understanding Social Networks,  he states “Interaction generally leads to positive sentiments; these sentiments in turn lead to further interaction” (p. 75). So we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. We must manage our profiles carefully, while still being open to any and all interaction. This leads me back to Shirky’s statement. If we are to present ourselves properly, how “good” is good enough? Also, if your visual presentation is scrutinized more than your content, on what levels must you be “good enough?”

There are differing opinions about when “good enough” is appropriate and when it isn’t. According to Jay Elliott, a former vice-president at Apple, for Steve Jobs, “‘good enough’ is never good enough” (2011). An article on Inc.com declares that “Sometimes good enough is good enough” (Paley, 2013). Meanwhile Grant Wiggins, writing on Educational Leadership, tries to determine exactly how good is good enough (2014). The ambiguity of the word “good” doesn’t lend itself specifics, so the arguments tends to go around in circles.

I’m sure that there is a very long essay sitting here in front of me. However, I don’t like my chances of trying to determine, once and for all, what “good enough” is in a blog post. Here’s what I’ve taken away from Shirky’s talk, which might point to how we can get over the challenges facing us. The traditional, institutional world, looked at us like a resume. Everything facing the scrutineers was specific and individual. Attach a picture and that seems to have been the sole criteria for inclusion. Now, with our on-line persona, we are considered in light of our connections, under a collaborative lens. Leo Urrutia just wrote a great post called “Go, Network!” in which he outlines how this collaborative model aught to work (I’m not saying that it does, yet). Eventually, we may be considered in light of our contributions to the group. Using the resume example, it will not be a picture of us, individually that will make the difference, it will be the picture of our cohort.

Sources:

Edwards, G. (February 5, 2014) Are you Handsome Enough to Work Here? Retrieved from: http://gillianedwardsyyc.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/are-you-handsome-enough-to-work-here/

Elliot, J. (May 2, 2011) Steve Jobs: “Good Enough” is Never Good Enough. Sources of Insight. Retrieved from: http://sourcesofinsight.com/steve-jobs-good-enough-is-never-good-enough/

Kadushin, C. (2012). Understanding social networks : Theories, concepts, and findings. New York: Oxford University Press

Paley, E. (September 2013) Sometimes Good Enough is Good Enough. Inc 5000. Retrieved from: http://www.inc.com/magazine/201309/eric-paley/no-product-can-be-perfect.html

Shirky, C. (2005) Institutions vs. Collaboration Retrieved from: http://youtu.be/sPQViNNOAkw

Urrutia, L. (February 5, 2014) Go, Network! Retrieved from: http://oleurrutia.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/go-network/

Wiggins, G. (December 2013/January 2014) How Good is Good Enough? Educational Leadership. Volume 71, Number 4. Retrieved from: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec13/vol71/num04/How-Good-Is-Good-Enough%C2%A2.aspx

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6 responses to “Is this blog post good enough?

  1. Sean,
    I found your last point to be the one that really got me thinking . . . I have been giving a great deal of consideration over the last several months to the concept of ownership/non-ownership of PLNs – with this are questions regarding the propriety of organizations mandating PLN usage and development. Naturally all this leads to assessment questions. Can PLNs be assessed? How? By whom?
    So your suggestion that people might end up being judged to some extent by some evaluative measure concerning their network really has made me sit back and think. All that being said I know for a fact (because the superintendent of schools for the district involved) told me that her HR department was heavily influenced by potential hires online presence – so I guess it is already happening.

    • Thanks Maureen. I spend a fair amount of time looking up potential hires online, to see if there is any reason to be concerned about their behaviour. I don’t think that it is possible for someone who is sloppy with their online personal persona to then separate that a professional online persona. I keep telling people that as soon as you’re online, you’re in a public space. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun and be silly sometimes, but it’s a balancing act. I’m concerned that I’m bad at it and I’m one of the people who is slightly paranoid about it! You never know who is watching and evaluating!

  2. Sean, interesting post. A couple things that came to my mind from reading your thoughts were that tricky line that many young people do have to walk now, between the traditional workforce/hiring/teams and the new collaborative models that so many companies are trying to use, to be new and different. It’s hard to be good enough when you are trying to appease two warring sides.

    “Good enough” is an expression that I loathe. Right up there with “not my problem”. It, for me, signifies a certain washing-of-hands for your responsibility in making it be better. As in: if this blog post isn’t good enough, maybe that’s the reader’s fault, not the writer. You know what I mean?

    Finally, I had a somewhat unfleshed-out thought that the more collaborative we become, does this mean that the more responsible we are for the group’s work? Remember being on teams that weren’t very strong and pulling the weight for everyone? Does this spill over into this new world because of the nature of these collaborations? I am only as good as my fellow online person? What if we have a crappy LinkedIn network with people who aren’t great at their jobs, but you are great at yours? (Too many questions).

    • How close will we get to the hive-mind, huh? I guess, ideally, the more collaborative we become, the more we want to do well, in order to progress in rank. At least I guess that’s one of Kadushin’s points. What he doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about is the other half of the equation, where, below a cut-off line, there is a slow march into decline. I’m not quite as confident as Shirky that the one person contributing the sub-par picture is really that important to the whole experience. I think there is something personal and individual that needs to drive us to try and better ourselves, despite the group. We’ll have to see!

  3. An interesting reflection on this week’s material, nicely incorporating classmates’ thoughts (except you need to figure out how to make those references live links! not a URL string!) You hit on the general anxiety that has come with the massive shift of social life online. Much food for thought!

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