It's funny, my background is in technology and I really geek out about what technology can do but I don't talk a lot about technology explicitly on this blog. Why? It's not the *most* interesting part of the value chain. What people and organizations DO with software and the implications it has are far more interesting to me and have a far larger impact on business outcomes. This is particularly true of social software because it is not something you can force people to use - or at least use well... I suppose there is some crazy company out there who could mandate that people update their status 5 times a day but you can guess what the results of that would be - a lot of crappy updates.
Danah Boyd just wrote an excellent post about why the Facebook privacy issues are such a problem. Like many of the issues that result from social technologies, the problems have little to do with the technology itself - it is about how the technology is used, configured, and communicated to its users. The Facebook privacy issues are frankly why I've always been a bigger fan of Twitter - with Twitter my contract with them is relatively clear - everything is public. Even Twitter, however, has added new functionality and not communicated very clearly what the impact is. For example, they added location identification to tweets which has some big implications. This issue of clarity for the end user about what they are doing and with whom they are sharing their information (including search spiders) is enormous - and not only for public social networks - it is one of the biggest issues that could stimy progress with enterprise social applications as well.
In the enterprise, the more one person is responsible for, the more constituencies they interact with on a regular basis and any good executive adapts their communication tone, content, and style to the audience - and in fact has legal responsibilities for doing so in some cases. Some in technology circles would call foul on this and say that the communication lacks transparency but that ignores common sense and reality. In reality if you are working on business plans with a group of other managers, it would be foolish to share half-baked ideas with everyone because everyone may not be paying attention when the final plans come out thus much communication would add to, not eliminate, confusion. There are reasons that not everyone in the company gets invited to every meeting and if you don't offer people some measure of protection from exposure, they will not share their real opinions at all which carries with it huge business risks because that is, in fact, the way you negotiate and drive alignment.
Social technology companies - if they ignore the reality of the decision-making process - risk the very potential of their market to flourish. There must be ways for everyone to share information judiciously and with different groups. The flip side is that, yes, most enterprises are *too* locked down about how information is shared and the ease of information distribution and access. However, getting to a more fluid information environment is not fundamentally a technology problem - it is a cultural and management problem. To effectively change culture and management, users cannot feel duped into sharing more than they wish - they must be made comfortable that they understand and control how they are sharing information and then get encouraged and supported when they choose to be more open. This is both a technology and a management challenge. The UX of the software being used must be very clear to the user and the management culture must encourage and support people when they share. The technology itself is necessary but not sufficient to make this change and it is the reason the debate over whether 'social business' is about technology or about management exists.
The upshot - understand and think deeply about the UX (user experience) of the software being presented to your users. Technology can obfuscate its mechanics pretty easily which can result in more sharing and that may, in the short term, look like a success but may have a high likelihood of backfiring if users are confused about how it works or worse - they get burned for using it because they didn't understand how it worked. The UI/UX should not be an afterthought and it is not a insignificant challenge, especially for enterprise software groups that have not typically included UX issues as a major factor in purchasing/RFPs in the past (because with transactional systems it has been less important). Along with finding a software experience that works, invest in training so that everyone is encouraged to use the application appropriately and when people mis-step, they are gently redirected vs. punished (whether by management or by other users).
Assessing the social dynamics of how people share information within your culture is the first step toward creating a more 'social' organization. Deploying software and cultural change that encourages individuals - in a relatively comfortable way - to take the next step will only be successful if it's understood how far the culture can be pushed before it will shut down.