The Tragedy of the Clickspert

by Thomas Vander Wal in ,

The crowd of gurus and experts, particularly in the social media field, is more than annoying, it is troubling. Most have little understanding how things actually work, be it unmediated human social interactions (face-to-face) or people using tools and services to communicate and interact. The mediated interactions not only add complexity to a more pure flow, but they add complexities. Understanding these complexities and the many gaps and complexities that exist and lay ahead takes some rather in depth understanding. I don't know of anybody there yet and there are some insanely smart people working on it and even better there are groups of insanely smart people working on it.

What pains me are the clicksperts, those who think they understand it all because they are adept at clicking the interfaces in social tools and service and thinking they grasp it all. They are playing with the surface level symptoms above the complexities that are masked by the interface and thinking they have solved (the equivalent of) the mystery of cancer and are providing a cure and share it in their "10 steps to..." or "The future of..." blog posts. These are not resolutions nor future thinking (they are just stating what was commonly known 2 to 4 years ago, if not much longer and now often moved beyond).

These clicksperts sometimes have "thought leader conferences" where they talk about discoveries and secrets of what the future (the past for many of us) holds. The clicksperts make problems for those that listen and deploy into their ecosystems, where progress could have been made and people are ready for next smart steps. But, the people get the opposite of what they need, they get really poor advice based on thin thinking and lack of understanding.

Why does this matter? One favorite tools that clicksperts recommend is Yammer and nearly every organization I talk to realizes they have walked into a serious set of problems with the use of Yammer. The lack of the very basics of social and information life cycles get exposed by Yammer. In tools like Yammer smart things get said, but they get lost, not easily searched and found, not easily aggregated, nor not easily tied to anything they are relating to. Compounding the problem are the many complaints of poor customer service (irony fully noted) and down time - things broken that limit or keep people from accessing the service.

Once you get beyond the clicksperts you find people people who see the gaps and problems in tools like Yammer in a day or two of use, or 15 to 30 minutes. Sometimes these problems will not have consequences, but working with people who know the problems, know how they will impact you and your organization, as well as help identify better suited options is a much better approach than leaving the thinking (or lack of it) up to the clicksperts.