On the eve of the only other comparable national convulsion — the lead-up to the Civil War – a strenuous public debate was able to focus on the salient question of the day, namely whether human slavery would continue in this country. Lincoln and Douglas parried for hours in the hot sun, arguing unscripted in complete sentences without the aid of teleprompters or offstage spin doctors. Yet no one above age of nine failed to understand what was at issue… Note the diminishing returns of technology at work in our time, making it impossible for us to think straight, despite the proliferation of snazzy devices, programs, networks, blog-clouds, and the pervasive, non-stop spewage of so-called information all intended to enhance communication. What did Lincoln have to work with? A pencil.
The issue is not how cool are our tools, the issue is what we use them for and I have long said that ICT is a huge accerlerator. It wont change who you are or how you or your organisation wporks at first, but it will massively amplify everything about the information environment you inhabit.
This has been coming up a lot lately in my casual conversations with bloggy friends. We’ve been, still are, excited by what networking technology makes possible… but there’s also this sense of disappointment. I get a big hit of stimulus from social media but there’s a shadow side that maybe we need to talk about some more.
For me, it’s not that social media is failing in some way, but that it can’t replace us taking risks, talking (on and offline) with more courage and depth about what really matters.