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South Africa: what is the future of Facebook in South Africa?

What is the future of Facebook in South Africa?: “THE calls are growing for facebook to be banned from offices around the country as bandwidth is soaked up by “social networking”. This is one workplace where it would be crazy to do that. Facebook has well over 150 000 users on its South Africa network and I’m guessing that a lot of them would be readers of The Times and our site .”


  • Vicki Scholtz

    I think calls to ban “social networking” are based on many assumptions, many of which are contestable:
    * notions of productivity
    * notions of value-adding activities
    * notions of social capital
    and the like.

    If we accept the premise that this is a “knowledge economy”, and that knowledge, unlike information, has a tacit component, and if we value that knowledge and wish to encourage it in the workplace, we need to examine the conditions under which its production thrives.

    Typically, knowledge is socially constructed. Typically, knowledge has various dimensions and often the most valuable knowledge – the kind that provides companies with “competitive advantage” – arises when “knowledge workers” make new connections along new planes, joining the dots in new ways rather than merely taking the next step along a well-trodden path. Those flights of “out of the box” thinking are more likely to occur when the brain is at play, or at rest, than when it is trundling through yet another report or spreadsheet. They’re also more likely to be spawned as an “aha! moment” after a conversation about something entirely else, which strikes a chord. And they’re far more likely if the “knowledge worker” feels kindly disposed towards their employer, rather than resenting their job and the constraints placed upon them.

    There is a whole body of literature out there that supports those kind of assertions – based on real research – so it’s not just kinee-jerk defensiveness from a Facebook user!

    Of course, in SA bandwidth is extremely costly, and so most employers have to prioritise what it’s used for in the office. And the long-term gains from enhanced knowledge work may be too nebulous to report on a balance sheet ahead of more measurable activities like intra-office email or intranet usage.

    However, other research suggests that the kind of “information overload” that flows from a surfeit of intra-office email – particularly mail flagged “urgent”, or originating higher up the hierarchy – is damaging to productivity, and so the logical choice would be to switch intra-office email to single daily digest format (one message per day, containing all the messages that would otherwise have arrived separately) and to prioritise contenders like Facebook for the freed-up bandwidth.

    That’s unlikely to be a popular recommendation, but it is what the literature would point towards…

  • […] African blogosphere. We have also seen some really interesting stories about the use of sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr for social networking in and around […]

  • Excellent comment Vicki Scholtz. I’m in agreement. It seems to me that you’re well versed in knowledge management. It’s what I’m majoring in.

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