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Social networking in the workplace?!

Yes. By default*, for starters. But for some corporations (future employers of our kids, parents), social networking’s already in the workplace, at the boss’s behest or otherwise, and for some it’s only a matter of time. “Thousands of employees of Shell Oil, Procter & Gamble, and General Electric have Facebook accounts. A Facebook network of Citigroup employees – only those with Citigroup e-mail accounts can join – has 1,870 users. Procter & Gamble employees use Facebook to keep interns in touch and share information with co-workers attending company events,” InformationWeek reports in a long look at the subject. But of course “how the social networking model is applied to business will determine whether it becomes the next office collaboration tool or the latest Web app to get blocked at the firewall.” Half of companies restrict social networking on their networks right now. For those who use it, InformationWeek says, uses “include viral marketing, recruiting, peer networking, and even emergency coordination and communications.” A couple of specific examples: Some companies sell products that enable businesses to create their own social networks, some of which “can be used to create communities where customers can interact, like Nike’s Joga.com, a soccer-oriented social network…. McDonald’s employees and some partners will soon be able to create their own profiles on the company’s Awareness (formerly iUpload) social media platform, from which they can blog and participate in communities.” Motorola “already supports thousands of internal wikis and blogs, and a social bookmarking initiative is under way, too.” It will add a “social networking layer” that will “let employees create profiles and let people see what information fellow employees have authored and tagged.” Microsoft is definitely in Web 2.0 mode, with 300,000 internal blogs and wikis. [* By "by default," I mean social networkers simply work there and their corporate firewall doesn't block social sites.]

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