Hugh MacLeod has recently posted a great set of blog entries on Social Objects. Hugh defines a social object as the reason two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to somebody else
While he typically talks about things in the context of product or corporate marketing, I think the notion of social objects is important to the individual as well. Especially to those in testing.
Whether you realize it or not, you are a marketer. The thing you are marketing to the world is yourself.
- If you are talking to a prospective employer, then your resume is the social object
- By reading this, you make the blog entry a social object
- When we interact at an event, the event is the social object
The common thread between these three items is that they all serve as A “hook” to move the conversation along. But since a lot of marketing is … random, it is up to you to recognize that these are all social objects and while you cannot completely control them, you can guide them along the route you desire. If I want someone to see my site, I will add the url to the end of an innocuous email. If I want to assert myself as a one of the top testers in Toronto, I’ll speak at events and get my personal marketing message out to a targeted group of people — or sometimes it will be aimed at a specific person in the audience.
You see these sort of activities all the time in the publishing industry. When Scott Berkun’s book came out he did a book tour, taped a podcast and was videoed doing a talk at Google in addition to hundreds of copies of the book being sent out to reviewers and his normal blogging activities. In all of these, the social object is The Myth of Innovation.
So how does this relate to testing?
The second course to be offered by AST is on bug advocacy. Advocacy is in my mind a synonym for marketing. I realized awhile ago that when I sit in a triage meeting and I want certain things addressed I am marketing on behalf of the issue to get it resolved. In that meeting, the social object is the bug system and the information contained within. As mentioned, bug advocacy is the 2nd course — of an expected 20 to 30 courses which highlights its importance in the eyes of those planning the curriculum.
But what if you have not progressed in your career yet to the point where you get a seat at the triage table? The bugs you uncover are still social objects with a raft of variables that interact. A bug with a priority of “Critical” is likely to be more potent as a social object than one with a “Low” weighting.
Most of the people I know in decision making QA/Test roles have at point or another laid a trap in the bug system specifically to get someone’s attention and have a discussion. Guess what? The trap is a social object. (I would use this technique very sparingly)
Bug systems, and the bugs logged in them, are not the only social objects we testers are exposed to.
|Business Analysts||Requirements documents|
|Marketing||Performance testing results|
|Architects||High-level design documents|
|Developers||Static analysis results|
As mentioned above, the key thing here is recognizing all these things for what they are (social objects) and exploiting them to full advantage.