Monday, 25 January 2010

challenging your fish bowl

For many people, the world of New/Social Media is a fish bowl. There are experts - legitimate, wannabe and those who are anything but. There's a culture, a loose set of mores.

I love the possibilities that these new tools for communication offer for deepening our connections as people - for understanding each other better, and hopefully being more transparent.

Last week, I had the privilege of spending some time with a few others hearing a few papers presented under banner of "Virtualisation and Society". Hearing from illustrious speakers like Dr David Pullinger, Dr Heidi Campbell and Prof John Eldridge sharing their perspectives on the impact of technology - and media - was a good stretch of my brain.

Interestingly, a lot of the content came from a different place when I think about those people in this space that I've learned the most from. People I've never met, but respect like Mitch Joel, Chris Brogan and Seth Godin mainly come at this stuff with a Marketing head - therefore about making connections to sell something - from ideas to widgets.

The speakers mentioned - and the others - were much more concerned that what was happening and who was controlling it.

I guess in my naivety, I had never thought about things like that. Okay, so I'd figured out that Google has commoditised our online identities and behaviours to make search (very) profitable for them, and Facebook might be trying to do the same - but can we say the same for Twitter? I'm not so sure.

For some, I guess it doesn't matter, it'll all be alright in the end. And I'm not fearful about who is running the show - I'm pretty sure it's not Rupert Murdoch this time. Phew.

So, anyway, the thing I picked up was a sense of balance. That there's value in hearing dissenting opinion - voices that challenge your perspective. In the end the knowledge of your convictions can mature into wisdom as a result of being tested.

As I said to Thomas recently, I think there's tremendous value is hearing people you don't always agree with.

Now that's not to say you fill your head with things without weighing them up. I'm trying to get better at this.

So what have I done? Re-dressed the balance in Google Reader, taking out some of the Marketing add-ons that I didn't get much from and adding in some *dissenting* voices. All in the interest of healthy, stimulating debate around the topic.

What do you think?

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