The challenge is this: by simply increasing the efficiency through which people connect and collaborate, we may paradoxically consume even more of their attention because it is now easier for them to connect with people. This can lead to a depletion of their ability to do useful things with their new connections because they will be too busy monitoring, maintaining and developing their networks.
Great article (http://socialwrite.com/2009/09/21/the-attention-question-in-social-business/ ) – I love the analogy with the coal question. The quote: “increases (in) the efficiency with which a resource is used, tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource”. More connections, made more easily, may not have entirely the desired effect.
In fact the varying levels of payoff from social business software [did I get a mail? was it interesting?] add the nuance of random reinforcement – much like rats receiving food at random for pressing a lever. The result – rats that do nothing but press the lever despite having more than enough food at hand.
Not, of course, that you or I could possibly fall into such a category.