Echo chamber – is IBM stuck in one ? are you in your company ?

Posted on April 24, 2012


This was originally posted to my internal IBM blog on 10:34 20/03/2012, Steve Devo, Mobile Internet

I’ve heard a few people (sociologists mostly) talking about the internet and social networking.

Typically the argument goes that the Internet is a vast complicated and confusing thing, therefore it is too difficult to navigate with ease, especially when looking for looking for new information.

Social networks help, they allow us to be guided by our friends and colleagues and to share links and sites with our social group.

The problem with this is it is likely to lead to a narrowing of our outlook as we tend to self select friends that are of a similar mind set to our selves. One person called this an echo chamber effect. I think that’s a good description of how it is possible that the internet will lead to a smaller circle of knowledge than we think.


For IBM I think this risk of a narrowing is much more defined and likely. We have our own isolated social networks, Intranet etc, and we are strongly encouraged to use these tools for research and for talking about ideas. Leading to an IBM echo chamber.

This is worse in my area (GBS) because the situation over the last few years has been that almost no one has the time or permission to attend trade shows, conferences and other external events. Thus we are limiting the opportunities to learn new things, be poked by new ideas, challenged by different views etc.

Meaning our echo chamber is insulated from the outside even more than the norm.

Care must be taken to ensure that our thinking does not become stunted and appearing stultified.

Software Group do their very best to provide us with Golden Hammers, but we must start seeing past the everything as a nail.

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