The more things change, the more they stay the same

Harder to make connections across this past week since I was on a short vacation, and disconnected for the last half. But there is a strong thematic relationship between two larger posts. In one, What won’t happen in 2013, I make some anti-predictions, making the case that a lot of the context that frames social tools won’t budge this year:

At its most basic, the idea of social business is fairly obvious: the application of ideas that have animated social networks and social media technologies in the open (or ‘consumer’) web in the business context. So we see the activity streams concept lifted from Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr and screwed into today’s work media and task management tools. So, now, after a few years of social business, some conventions have arisen, like the social motif of the activity stream.
But the inherent openness of the social web has not happened in social business. And 2013 is not the year where we will see the idea of ‘open work’ catch on, where a new paradigm of cross-company work media supplants todays social collaboration technologies. Not this year.
2013 is not the year where the realities of today’s economy — growing numbers of freelancers, more short-term project-based cooperation — will become central to the tools we use to coordinate our efforts.
And lastly, 2013 will not be the year when the liberating and aspirational aspects of social business are so commonplace, and so deeply internalized in business culture that the term falls into disuse. No, 2013 is not that year.
2013 will be dominated by arguments about change, culture, and context: but that will have to wait for another post.

No real surprise that a second longish post was about change, building on an old post from Dave Gray, and suggesting that we’ve moved into a period where Change has changed:

As companies become more fast and loose, as more individuals gain the autonomy to try new things, to experiment with new ways to delight customers, or change production plans to increase quality, then there is a fracturing of the frame of reference. The individuals chose what is important, they decide what is the factor to improve. The context becomes more subjective, and less corporate.
Each individual trying a new way to do something is focused on that experiment, and they don’t necessarily perceive it as one more experiment in a portfolio.
When we think of the portfolio approach as a sort of marketplace of ideas, we tend to downplay the motivations and thinking of the individuals involved. But people don’t think of themselves in a depersonalized way: they are deeply invested in what they are doing. They don’t see it as some external change: they are changing themselves, how they do their job, how they think, and what they value.

I am at work on a long post relating to these ideas, coming soon.
And also touching on the topic of change, last week I discovered research that demonstrates that email spam has finally started to decrease (see Spam is in decline), apparently because legal ways to advertise have become cheaper and more effective. A watershed of a sort.
Similarly, an announcement from 37signals about a new version of one of that company’s products (see Basecamp Personal debuts with a pay-once fee model) is an indicator of a new trend in pay-once fee models, the beginning of a trend away from monthly fees, perhaps.
So, perhaps it’s true that change is a constant in the universe, but it’s also obvious that it is mercurial and constantly moving from place to place. My anti-predictions were based on the premise that some crucial areas in the enterprise are very slow to change, but ultimately, the independent decisions of millions of users and tens of thousands of entrepreneurs and app developers add up to a wave of huge force, crashing against the enterprise. Everything will change, inexorably, or erode.