“Social proprioception” in the workplace

Last June, I wrote a column for Wired about how Twitter creates “social proprioception” — the ability of a large group of friends and colleagues to know what each other are doing, and to co-ordinate themselves accordingly. Since I wrote that, Facebook’s newsfeed became an bigger new prioprioceptive force amongst friends. Last weekend, I pulled out my mobile phone to check email, and a friend of mine said, “oh, that’s the phone you’re finally loving!” — which was a reference to a Facebook status update I’d published a week earlier, saying “For some reason, I’m now liking my mobile phone, which I used to hate.” This stuff happens all the time now, of course.

But you can tell a trend has truly arrived in the absolute geometric center of the mainstream when it appears in an “Editorial Observer” column in the New York Times. So I was tickled to open today’s paper to read a piece by Adam Cohen that begins thusly:

A co-worker apologized to me recently for being slow on a task. “It’s probably just your insomnia from last night,” I said. She was confused about how I knew, but I reminded her we were Facebook friends, and that she had posted a “status update” about her sleeplessness.


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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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