The Dark Side of Enterprise 2.0

October 28, 2009

October 27, 2009.  Posted from Red Bank, New Jersey

Research is suggesting the Enterprise 2.0 technologies might introduce negative impacts productivity, decision quality and job satisfaction, in addition to the positive ones. What do we need to be aware of as we unleash these solutions on employees?

The Enterprise 2.0 Conference in San Francisco has been the inspiration for this blog.  While compiling information on the psychological impacts of E2.0 technologies on workers for a talk at the conference, I uncovered a massive amount of research.  But for some reason little of this work has trickled into the discussions I hear about Enterprise 2.0.  I want to change that.  I also need a venue to share references to the research that I cite in the talk.

Join me in challenging companies to address these soft challenges of Enterprise 2.0.  Challenges that can potentially dilute the benefit of E2.0 and maybe even make employees less productive and happy.  Either take a moment to consider these issues when plunging forward with deployments or add your comments to the blog so we can raise the visibility of these challenges.

The Dark Side of Enterprise 2.0


Don't get burned from too much access

Flexible Access:   The Impact of Workday Interruptions caused by Enterprise 2.0 Technologies

Lohr, Steve.  “Slow Down Brave Multitasker, and Don’t Read this in Traffic,” The New York Times, Feb 25, 2007. Readable summary of recent studies on multitasking.

Freedman, D.H. What’s Next? Taskus Interruptus, Mansueto Ventures LLC, Inc.Com, 2007 <>. This study is identified as calculating over 2 hours lost per day per employee from interruptions. A great website for research on interruptions.

Altmann E. M. & Trafton J. G.  “Timecourse of recovery from task interruption: Data and a model,” Psychonomic Bullletin & Review, 14 (6), 1079-1084, 2007, <>.  An excellent example of how researchers study resumption time.

Appelbaum S. H., Marchionni A. & Fernandez A. (2008) “The multi-tasking paradox: Perceptions, problems and strategies, ” Management Decision, 46 (9), 1313-1325, 2008 <>. A thorough overview of topics related to interruptions.

Foerde, K., Knowlton, B. J. and Poldrack, R. A.  “Modulation of Competing Memory Systems by Distraction, “ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 103:11778-83, 2006 <>.   Research suggesting we are less effective at remembering things when distracted.

Kirmeyer, S. L. (1988). “Coping with competing demands: Interruptions and the Type A pattern,” Journal of Applied Psychology, 73, 621–629 1988 <>.  A study demonstrating interruptions increases stress.

Carton, A. M.  and Aiello, J. R. “Control and Anticipation of Social Interruptions:  Reduced Stress and Improved Task Performance,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 2009, 39, 1, pp. 169–185 <>.  Another study demonstrating interruptions increases stress.

Amabile, T., Hadley, C.N., and Kramer, S.J., (2002), “Creativity Under the Gun.” Special Issue on The Innovative Enterprise: Turning Ideas into Profits. Harvard Business Review 80, no. 8 (August 2002): 52-61. <>.  Field research that actually links interruptions and workplace pressure to reduced creativity.


Always Virtual: The Impact of the Loss of Face Time with Colleagues

Nie, Norman H.  Hillygus, D. Sunshine.   “The Impact of Internet use on Sociability:  Time-Diary Findings,” IT & Society, V1, I1, Summer 2002 <>.   Provides data to show that online time cuts into face time.

Brodie, Ian. “Debunking the Myths of Non-Verbal Communication.” Debunking the Myths of Non-Verbal Communication. 8 Feb.  25 Oct. 2009 < the- Myths- of- Non- Verbal- Communication&id=974778>.  Short explanation of limitations of Mehrabian’s infamous figure of 93% of communication is non-verbal.

Mehrabian, A. “Attitudes inferred from neutral verbal communications,” Journal of Consulting Psychology, 31, 414-417, 1967.<>.  One of Mehrabian’s early articles discussing non-verbal communication and the infamous 93% figure.

Burgoon, J. K., Buller, D. B., and Woodall, W. G. Nonverbal Communication:  The Unspoken Dialogue, Greyden Press, 1994.  More recent work on estimating the amount of information is verbal vs non-verbal

Small, Gary and Vorgan, Gigi.   iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind, Harper Collins, 2008.   This book compiles research on digital technology into a readable discussion of how it affects children’s brains and their psychology.


Always Available: The Impact of Enterprise 2.0 Intruding on our Time Off

Brown, Stuart and Vaughan, C.  Play:  How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, Penguin Books,  2009.  An appropriately fun book that discusses the merits of play on our lives.

Wixted,J.  “A Theory of Why we Forget what we once Knew,” Current Directions in Psychological Science, v14 n4, 2005.  <>.   A discussion of how distractions or overload impedes our ability to store memories.

Spector, P. E. “Perceived control by employees: A meta-analysis ofstudies concerning autonomy and participation,” Human Relations, 39,1986.   <>.  One early study measuring the link between task control and stress.

New Interactive Venues: The Impact of Enterprise 2.0 on Redefining Expertise

Jackson, Maggie.  Distracted:  The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, Prometheus Books, 2008.  Like the title of the book suggests, a pessimistic view of the impact of technology on our humanity.

Rea, L. M. Parker, R. A. Designing and Conducting Survey Research:  A Comprehensive Guide,  Jossey-Bass, 2005. One of many books out there that explain the complexity of creating a predictive survey.

Tversky, A. & Kahneman, D.  “Judgments under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases.” Science, 185, 1974 <>  Early discussion of availability bias.

Always Retrievable (and Viewable by All):  The Impact on Candor and Personal Reinvention  Article discussing policy challenges at the New York Observer over candor and trust vs twittering.


Information Candy Store:  The Impact of Information Overload on Employess  Great website for research on information overload.

Wilson, P.  “Unused relevant information in research and development,”  Journal of the American Society for Information Science, v46 N1, 1995.

Farhoomand, A. F. &  Drury, D. H. “Managerial Information Overload,”  Communications of the ACM, October 2002, < > An interesting tool that estimate the of cost of information overload for one’s enterprise.

Scwartz, B.  The Paradox of Choice:  Why more is Less.  Harper, 2004

Zeldes. N, Sward, D, & Louchheim.  “Infomania:  Why we can’t afford to ignore it any longer,”  First Monday V12 N8  2007  <>

Jeanine W. T. &  Reinsch, N. L.   “The Business Communicator as Presence Allocator: Multicommunicating, Equivocality, and Status at Work,” Journal of Business Communication V44 N1, 2007 <>

12 Responses to “The Dark Side of Enterprise 2.0”

  1. Interruptions is what you want. When we need people, information, an answer…we turn to people for help. The org is a web of relationships…interruption means that people are hopefully finding answers so they can move on…if we didn’t have this we’d all be twiddling our thumbs

    Aggregated productivity is not the same as social productivity.

    See boyd’s law

    I elaborated on this in my social PKM post

    • Greg Lowe said

      The only interruptions I want is when it aligns to my business objectives. Asynchronous collaboration lets me collaborate on my terms, not yours. I’m sure in your mind, your objectives are more important than mine, but I look at that differently.

  2. Kathleen. This was probably the most researched, most cogent presentation at e20/SF. If I had known ahead what you would be presenting, I would have taped it. Perhaps we can do this again in a webinar with you and Greg?

    In any event, thanks so much for this valuable contribution and your hard work. Would love to see you in the Council.

  3. Great talk and great content. During the session I had three pages of notes on how to prove your points moot till you got to the “Don’t Worry” and Mitigation slides.

    Having been part of driving multiple Enterprise 2.0 movements and working for a Systems Integrator of collaboration platforms I’ve seen all these potential problems arise and they really do need to be thought about and dealt with. Most of the time its a cultural or behavioral fix, since E2.0 does change the way a company does certain things, leaving the technology to play a smaller role.

    I’m glad to see that the personal experiences that I’ve had align with the evidence put forth in your talk.

    Mason McLead

  4. It’s very provocative. I like that kind of opinion.
    When I see my 12 years old daughter and how she’s addicted to her computer, I also have the impression that we could do a similar Dark Side of Social Life 2.0 blog entry…
    Some of your arguments are applicable to a much wider audience.

    • 313kec said

      Agreed. While the motive for starting all of this was Enterprise 2.0, much of the research makes no distinction between work or home. I am the process of drafting a white paper on the talk I gave with my co-presenter. Once I get that finished, maybe one on Social Life may be in order.

  5. […] might well be one of the symptoms Kathleen Culver diagnosed at e20conf – that the attention erosion that comes with mutliple, real-time and […]

  6. […] helpfully provided a link to the references they used in the talk. Again this reiterates a bit of a theme of mine relating to […]

  7. […] This and the following posts summarize the findings from the research presented at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco last November.  The references for this post can be found the the ‘Flexible Access’ section the Dark Side of Enterprise 2.0 post. […]

  8. This page of your site ranks really well in google australia, just figured i’de post and say greetings from down under

  9. […] to the 2009 Enterprise 2.0 Conference in San Fanscisco, come to the same conclusion. [] the initial and revised reference list for this [presentation] showing just how differently human beings behave […]

  10. Really Appreciate this blog post, can I set it up so I get an alert email when you make a new post?

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