Thanks to EA Griffith for alerting me to the Pew Internet Study "The Strength of Internet Ties". Indeed EA it is reassuring to see more than a decade later what we observed in the day-to-day of managing PRODIGY bulletin boards, and as the Pew report states:
"The Internet and email aid users in maintaining their social networks and provide pathways to help when people face big decisions".
While the Pew study is persuasive that "the Internet helps build social capital" and Barry Wellman's concept of "networked individualism" prevails, more interesting to me these days is watching these forces transform business processes and organizations. eWeek, January 30, 2006 carries an intriguing interview with eTrade CIO Greg Framke about:
"Getting rid of its Sun Solaris infrastructure and moving open source up the stack saved eTrade millions of dollars and changed how the company approaches development. "
What we learn is that moving to an open source platform also caused eTrade to change the way it develops software to the modular, collaborative approach that Linux pioneered.
Friday, February 3, I attended the KMCluster Prediction Markets Summit in New York city. Hats off to John Maloney for an extraordinary showcase of the ways organizations are capitalizing on "networked individualism" and using Prediction Markets technology in applications ranging from predicting LCD TV futures, to the spread of the Avian flu, or global risk (at the 2006 World Economic Forum). A sample of Prediction Markets applications is available at NewsFutures ( a platform provider), including the Yahoo TechBuzz Game and news story outcomes.
While the Pew Study helps us understand a decade of "the strength of Internet ties", it's clear from the experience of people like the eTrade IT group and the pioneers of "Prediction Markets" gathered at the KMCluster event, that the Internet's impact on social and organizational change is just beginning.