“Devolution“, “de-evolution“, or backward evolution is the notion that humans can change into a more “primitive” form. It is associated with the idea that evolution is supposed to make humans more advanced, and that the human network has lost their ability to “think” and seem to be going backwards instead of forwards in advancement,
Certain uses of social technology are creating devolution because it overloads people with meaningless information, not advancing knowledge by transforming information into new knowledge.
Lets put things into context. Another form of devolution is devaluation. Devaluation is a reduction in the value of something and not advancement of potential value. It specifically implies lowering of the economic value created by people’s use of something.
The opposite of devaluation are revaluation. Revaluation means a rise of value created because of the creative ways in which something are used to create improved value. Revaluation is usually created by the introduction of new knowledge or innovation created by or from the previously devalued product or service. A market that doesn’t understand the value of something, or “how” to create value with something, is a market that demands to understand the ROI from something before they understands what that something is. Trying to understand ROI from something without understanding how to create value with something is shortsighted. In other words it represents a devolution in thinking.
Social media are getting a lot of attention, maybe the wrong attention. Much of the online and off-line media is positioning “social media” as another marketing channel and their usage reflects their beliefs. Everyone is talking about the ROI from social media or trying to define it. Most metrics and examples are all tied to a response from marketing and advertising messaging using social media. While applicable to those vertical uses organizations are missing the larger value that can and should be created and captured. By narrowing the markets view and use of the relevant technology the value are being limited and not expanded. In other words devalued.
The Revaluation Of Social Media
McKinsey Consulting looks at social technology as more than social media. They view “social technology” as a significant enhancement to collaboration and communication processes. An enhancement that changes everything a business does, not just marketing and advertising. What new value can be created by improving communications and collaboration? Everything!
To put this in better perspective consider what happens when organizations use social media solely as advertising and marketing channel. They are likely to initially get the markets attention and in doing so increase the cost of responding to said attention. Worse, the market takes notice then criticizes the brand or organization for terrible service, poor customer relations or “spamming” the market. Worse yet is that the organizations employee attitudes reflected in their online conversations produce a negative sentiment about the organization. These incidents are happening everywhere because organizations do not think systemically about social technology. Rather they think about marketing and advertising. That thinking represents devolution.
Revaluations are driven by efficiency, effectiveness and innovation. Devolution of social media are the results of doing things that reduce the value of communications. It’s time to create a revaluation of this thing being called social media. That can only happen when there is a revolution in thinking. That would require a revolution in “what” we believe.