The Digital Jester
The Phantom is an online avatar that joins their internal Yammer discussions and is able to say what many think but few would post. He tells people who post trivial comments to the whole organisation to go over to the “water cooler” group instead; he will post questions to the CEO on behalf of people who want to stay anonymous; he even chides the CEO if his remarks are too drab.
There’s a long tradition of comedy and guise being used as a way to speak the unspeakable. Mediaeval court jesters were one of the few who could get away with criticizing despotic kings. But they would also pick on others in court who went beyond the boundaries (probably a preferable fate to a beheading!). The Phantom seems to me to be a digital jester: tolerated for being more direct than anyone else, but also there to energise with a little friction sometimes. Nothing draws people to a social intranet like tasty subversion.
Hibbs observed that the Phantom was able to say things that someone like the HR Director could never do, yet he also sets the tone for what is different about a microblogging tool at LexisNexis compared to their traditional intranet. By pushing the outer boundary, he moves everyone forward.←Previous post | Next Post→