Reflecting Forward and Backward
We recently had Eli Pariser talk about The Filter Bubble, and the challenge of having technology hide information from us online. This Sunday’s NY Times brought Sherry Terkel, talking about “The Flight from Conversation,” where she laments the ability for always-on connectivity to become a substitute for deep, meaningful, interactive, in-person conversations.
In today’s workplace, young people who have grown up fearing conversation show up on the job wearing earphones. Walking through a college library or the campus of a high-tech start-up, one sees the same thing: we are together, but each of us is in our own bubble, furiously connected to keyboards and tiny touch screens.
While I’m very familiar with that scene, I don’t consider the ability to tune out distractions and focus with some music a total conversation stopper. And I won’t deny that I enjoy the “sips,” as she calls them, of conversational interaction on the various social networks. But in co-Teaching with Tom and Marcia, and in co-creating this class with all of you, I have experienced some fantastic conversations.
Doc Searls said “We Are All Authors of Each Other,” in which he states:
Informing is not the same as delivering information. Inform is derived from the verb to form. When you inform me, you form me. You enlarge that which makes me most human: what I know. I am, to some degree, authored by you.
I believe we as a teaching team have helped “form” you, in some way, towards thinking about the use of online and digital technologies to get at that human, two-way communications. I state this because I have read papers from most of you, and have noticed the growth from your initial drafts and your outlined thoughts towards serious strategic thinking.
In some cases, I’m seeing the founding or re-formation of organizations intended to help groups in society to connect, learn, communicate, support and share with each other. The medium in this case actually enables the message. If distance, illness, or social standing blocks communication, the plans you have created routes around those blocks and creates new paths to explore. In other cases, I’m seeing clarity and new communications modes for organizations that need the help to connect, fundraise, and raise awareness.
Reading your plans makes me excited for a more connection-rich future.