Quick warning first – this post is based on my experiences last night at Third Tuesday Ottawa but it’s most certainly not a recap, review or extrapolation on the themes discussed. My twitter-sized review of the event itself would be something to the effect of “Awesome discussion at #TTO; interesting to see what GoC is doing but sad that it’s all staying internal for now.”
There, with that done, I want to ask the dozens of you who read this blog about how the community treats outsiders. That sounds menacing but it’s not supposed to. I’ve left names off so nobody gets sidetracked by any previously existing bias towards any of the people or corporations.
Here’s the setup. At last night’s event, a guy stood up and asked a question which he prefaced with a note about who he works for (a huge international consulting company not known for being particularly social media friendly). Huge moment of disclosure: Said guy is a good friend of mine from long before either of us dipped our toes in these waters. Just to get that out of the way.
Anyway, his question was perfectly legit, well within the realm of the discussion and probably would have been asked by one of us ‘insiders’ if he hadn’t asked it. It seemed to start a trend though as several questions that followed his were prefaced with a quick note of where the person worked.
After the event was done I got to chatting with one of the leading minds in Ottawa’s social media community. We were talking about the presentation and the discussion eventually moved to the question asked by my friend. There was a sense that he had broken an unwritten rule by declaring his affiliation. It lead to an observation that I’ve heard before in the past – that anyone looking to make an entry into the SM realm should really spend some time getting to know the community and the way it functions beforehand.
Fair point and one that many companies would do well to mind.
But here’s the thing (and I will remind you of my disclaimer though I think I’m treating this fairly) – the guy in question didn’t strike me as someone who was trying to spin his way into a deal or anything. His question was prefectly on point; it didn’t sound like someone trying to drum up his next business opportunity. Maybe he’s used to introducing himself by his company affiliation, I’m not sure.
Interestingly, another person in the audience announced his affiliation before asking a question, then proceeded to ask a question that, to me, seemed a lot more self-interested. But that guy came from a company that is part of the open source community – so his self interest is the self interest of the entire community. His business would benefit but so would the greater community. The same person who was put off by the multinational company rep flagged this question as one that he was particularly impressed by.
So – here’s the question for all y’all. Do we treat our own differently than we treat an outsider? Should we immediately be suspicious of the intentions of anyone from a major company that stands to profit immensely or should we applaud them for trying to make an entry? Conversely, should someone be given a free pass for breaking an unwritten rule if they are part of the social community?
I realize this post sounds unnecessarily critical of the person I’ve identified as a leading mind. It really isn’t supposed to (blame the early hour at which I’m writing this)