Could the direction we've been so sure of for the last handful of years be leading us down a path of distraction and dysfunction? That's what the latest word on the street is. Social computing and collaboration aren't paying any mind to the negative criticism, however, as new solutions continue to arrive by the virtual truckload. This week's additions to the pool include Salesforce's Chatter, Social CRM news, and upgrades to the sharing capabilities in Google Docs.

The Dark Side of Social Computing

Earlier this week we noted the argument in books like The Way We Are Working Isn’t Working and The Shallows. Both authors think multitasking, tweeting, Facebook status updating and information sharing is sabotaging our lives.

The core of the argument is that taking in so much information causes us to miss out on the precious details. The slippery slope of information overload leads to employees being distracted, overworked, and more likely to see a decrease in their productivity.

In the same vein, some recent research carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit shows that of the 337 e-Discovery professionals surveyed, 25% feel their company is not ready for e-Discovery requests based around business-related use of social media, while 36% said they were only “ somewhat prepared."

On defense is Sam Anderson of, who said all the doomsaying strikes his as silly for two reasons:

"First, conservative social critics have been blowing the apocalyptic bugle at every large-scale tech-driven social change since Socrates’ famous complaint about the memory-destroying properties of that newfangled technology called “writing.” (A complaint we remember, not incidentally, because it was written down.) And, more practically, the virtual horse has already left the digital barn. It’s too late to just retreat to a quieter time. Our jobs depend on connectivity. Our pleasure-cycles—no trivial matter—are increasingly tied to it. Information rains down faster and thicker every day, and there are plenty of non-moronic reasons for it to do so. The question, now, is how successfully we can adapt."

Which side of the fence are you on?  

Chatter Invites All Enterprises to Work Facebook Style

Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce and one of social computing's biggest fans, announced the official arrival of Chatter this week. 

The platform takes the fundamental communication and collaboration features we've come to expect in our online social lives and hooks them into Salesforce.com:

 

Moreover, Salesforce offers Chatter-only licenses, which means you don't need your company plugged into Benioff's CRM to be able to use the new tool. Such extensibility is an aggressive move, but now is a good time to be aggressive. 

"Salesforce Chatter is the most exciting thing I've worked on in my career," said Benioff. "Delivering Chatter is a seminal moment and one that marks the arrival of Cloud 2."

Social CRM Steps Into the Spotlight 

Speaking of CRM, Social CRM was a notable topic this week as well. Jeremiah Owyang and Ray Wang from the Altimeter Group kicked out a report called: Social CRM: The New Rules of Relationship Management

18 use cases are outlined in seven categories for implementing Social CRM. Some are a bit more futuristic than others, but regardless of when exactly they'll be realized, these are foundations you probably want to start thinking about: 

UseCases4SocialCRM.jpg

Altimeter Group's Social CRM: The New Rules of Relationship Management

Google Pimps Sharing Capabilities 

Google's been on a sort of warpath all of this month, releasing updates for Docs left and right. This week we saw enhanced sharing capabilities, which offer the following options: 

Public on the Web: This option enables anyone and everyone on the Web to find and view the document. Share the URL in any public space and the document will be indexed by Google and other search engines, and change the URL to control access.

Anyone with a link: This option closes the document to the public, unless they have a special link to access it (sent via e-mail, for example).

Private: This option restricts access to the creator and anyone the creator has approved to view it.

Enterprise 2.0 Boston Conference Highlights

Finally, a recap of the Enterprise 2.0 Boston Conference is in order. In contrast with the whole social-computing-is-destroying-the-enterprise bit, all the E2.0 Conference saw was social computing: 

Major Vendors

The biggest players at the conference were all about their suites: IBMannounced IBM Lotus Quickr 8.5, Microsoft discussed their internal video blogging system during a keynote, Novell unveiled simultaneous document editing, and Cisco kicked out an entirely new platform complete with chat, wikis, blogs, social networking, and VoIP capabilities.

Niche Players

Jive arrived with a new filter called What Matters, which feeds everything you you could possibly want to know about into one convenient location. nGenera introduced Spaces, a "human-centered enterprise collaboration solution," which can be customized to integrate into organizations’ cultures, workflows, internal structures, and data sources. Socialtext announced the release of Socialtext Connect beta, a new layer in the company's enterprise architecture that frees vital information housed within applications.

SharePoint, SharePoint, SharePoint

Integrating with SharePoint is kind of a big deal. NewsGator unveiled a new framework for embedding social capabilities into enterprise applications, Mainsoft's's Harmon.ie is a free sidebar for Microsoft Outlook that provides access SharePoint and Google Docs directly from within e-mail, and Huddle won this year's Microsoft SharePoint SocialFest with a solution designed to help companies collaborate with their partners, allowing separate SharePoints to link together and bridge corporate firewalls.

Check out a deeper look at all of these releases here