Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Socialisation of information, its impact on businesses and the way we manage information in modern society

I am writing this article as sharing information has changed drastically with the continuous advancements in technology.
The industry on technology is now one of the leading industries due to constant advancements in not only communication but also lifestyle. As this change is a major factor in our modern society, I find it extremely important that this article comprises of what socialisation of information is and it's importance, it's positive and negative impacts on businesses and how our society manages to not lose control of something so vital in our lives. 

The socialisation of information in the 21st Century is no longer a rarity but a necessary task. It has become essential for the everyday person to keep updated with what’s happening in his/her community or even in this world. To communicate and update his/her personal details on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace or Twitter. The internet, home to universal information, provides an enormous amount of data for whoever has access to read. This vast amount of knowledge ‘socialised’ can be used for many reasons and can also be used by companies for their own benefits. However, the world has come to understand that the bigger this knowledge is, it has to be managed in an orderly fashion. If this social data can help benefit some, it can also bring a huge disadvantage to many others.

Socialisation of information, in this context, refers to ‘making information available to anyone who seeks it’ (Kohl, 2010). In the modern society, the internet can be seen as the main source of information. There are many types of information available on the internet that can have a huge impact on how humans & businesses behave and their everyday lives. From information on businesses to government statistics on the society and from articles on supermarkets to knowledge that can help you on your exams. Information is shared through the world wide web, where social networking websites, search engines etc… have allowed information on almost anything to be shared with anyone who has access to such information. The most interesting fact about people using social networking is that ‘48% of 18-34 year olds check Facebook when they wake up, with 28% doing so before even getting out of bed’ (Digital buzz blog, 2011). These statistics recorded in 2011 show how people are always trying to be connected to the online world. Always communicating, sharing, updating and analysing.

Jennifer Kavur has identified, in an article, that socialisation of information helps businesses share tacit knowledge. ‘Tacit knowledge is the kind of knowledge that is difficult to transfer to another person by means of writing it down or verbalising it’ (Wikipedia, 2012). Businesses such as Microsoft promote the idea of socialising information with their subordinates. Mark Bower, who spent seven years in Microsoft, explains how knowledge is power and socialisation of information is maybe the best way of staying at the top.

Many other businesses have also realized the relevance and importance of the availability of this social data and the problem of such huge amount of data. So much so that now it has become difficult to only extract the most relevant data. An article called ‘Driving big data’ written in the economist explains how universities such as Yale, Wharton, Kelley school of business have launched an MBA in business analytics which is a course dedicated to interpreting data found over the web to help businesses. ‘“Business analytics” is gaining popularity as a potential sub-specialty within an MBA programme’ (J.L.H.D., 2012).

Businesses have substantially benefited from the social data available to them. Tineka Smith published an article through on the three key benefits businesses have by using social data. Firstly, social data can help in understanding future consumer feelings towards a product. Secondly, using social data helps departments within businesses to bring about better results. Lastly, ‘implementing social data helps improve brand awareness strategies’ (Smith, 2012). Furthermore, using social data, businesses can understand their main consumer group; their ethnicity, age group and location hence helping the business target that group.
However, sharing information can also impact businesses in a negative way. For example, there has been a decline in traditional media. In 2009, Rupert Murdoch referred to search engines, such as Google, as ‘content kleptomaniacs’. The fact that people can now read ‘free information’ by others sharing this information has caused this decline in traditional media. An article called ‘Taxing times’ on The Economist explains how politicians, such as in Germany, are considering to a bill towards search engines for giving away snippets of an article from a newspaper. German politicians believe, this supposedly dissuades readers from clicking on the newspaper’s actual website.

Moreover, there can be a misuse in socialising information such as confidential information on companies being shared on the web. This can help competitors have an upper hand in the market, making this extremely disadvantageous to those businesses. There has also been the case of hackers hacking into business’ systems and leaking their information. Valve, a games developing company, were hacked and their still in progress game was shared on file sharing sites for everyone to download.

As there are vast amounts of information, with different purposes, a question then arises whether our information is truly safe and confidential. From cases of popular applications on Facebook Inc. transmitting personal details to dozens of advertising agencies without our knowledge in 2010 to ‘In 2011 Google received 12,271 requests for data from the American government’ (The Economist, 2012) and succeeded without needing any confirmation from whom the information is of. This raises the question, how do we manage all this information in today’s modern society to allow users to feel safe?

There are many ways to manage and protect the process of socialisation of information without your information being misused by others. Data protection agencies are one way, 27 European data protection agencies have asked Google to modify its global privacy policy. Hence users will know, in detail, how their details are used and for what purpose. Also, members can become more diligent on what data they share on social networking sites. Moreover, businesses have implemented stronger antivirus software to protect their systems. Businesses are also obligated to follow the data protection act of 1998 hence law itself forces businesses not to misuse social data.

To conclude, socialisation of information is an integral part of modern societies. They are vital for any organisation to further progress and compete with other organisations. However, there will always be a risk for all individuals and businesses when sharing their information as no matter what actions we take, there will always be a third party trying to access this information. This does not mean we should simply just avoid sharing information on-line but it does mean we should take into consideration what could happen once we do ‘socialise information’.

Written By,

Jawaad Saleem


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