Is collaboration social?

A blog post and a tweet by Ido Amin caught my attention.

Merging ancestry tree websites like Geni with Facebook would be considered normal in most world cultures

From a pure IT perspective, this would be true. Merging two, or more, data sources for better consistency and accuracy seems to make sense. That is, until the human factor and terminology kicks in. Does a Facebook family mean the same thing as Geni family? Do you store and use the same types of information on both services? Do you want to share that information across sites? Will Facebooks track record with privacy be consistent with that of Geni?

Genealogy is complex and sensitive. Geni does a good job, at least in my view, to manage this, primarily by providing the final say on data to the person who is represented by this data. This is not to say that there aren't issues with data management, but the Geni approach of "better safe then sorry" is very different from the "better ask forgiveness then permission" approach of facebook. 

This reaches into a wider question of collaboration and socializing. We seem to view those two terms as interchangeable. They are not. Some aspects of social networks can be used in collaboration, and seem to provide value, such as voting mechanisms, commenting, linking, etc. Letting one tool rule, however, is not necessarily a good idea. This is a problem many IT managers and CIOs face when implementing collaboration tools.  We tend to use the authentication mechanism as the source of information for all systems in our search for the holy grail of Single Sign On mechanisms. Those systems include groups, organizational units, departments, projects and various other entities. We find is hard to relinquish or control of the systems once we have provided our users with whatever tools they need access to. 

This is made more difficult as the users want their systems to be less complex, and rightfully so. The less complex systems are, the more work can be accomplished.  The issue, both from an IT and a user perspective, is when we try and force one system to do the job which can be done much better by another. Finance and Accounting, HR and salaries salaries sales and marketing, facebook and geni.

We should avoid automatically equating automation and centralization with efficiency. There are many ways in which they can be beneficial (such as using facebook authentication), but each automation process should be scrutinized and validated per case. 

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