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Confluence of Technology and Human Relationships

August 30, 2006

This Cartoon was sent to me by my boss yesterday.  It is spot on.  The number of online bloggers is growing seemingly geometrically, and people are using blogs to create new and replace old ways of social networking.  For example, a hundred years ago if something was on your mind, you might go to your local street corner and stand on a wooden soapbox and spout your opinions to those who passed by.  If you were on a popular topic, or particularly eloquent, a small crowd might begin to gather.  You can see the same phenomena occurring today with various rant blog entries. Blogs are for more than just blowing hot air though – they are an easy way to create a web presence, to share with your circle of various size and membership what you are thinking and doing.  Like other sharing technology sites like photobucket, youtube, and flickr, a blog can be a place to post content to share with a select or broad audience. In our daily lives, face to face or over the phone encounters occur at real time.  As such, they don’t afford us the time to carefully think through our objective and to craft the most compelling or witty thing to say.   Online, facts to support our point of view are just a google away.  Blogging, and even email allows us to buffer, to create some time and distance and to interact differently than we would ordinarily.   In a manner, this has come full circle, for 100 years ago, people wrote to one another through carried mail, often adding days and weeks between exchanges.  This medium created a buffer as well, although that wasn’t necessarily a benefit then. Instant messaging also provides that buffering space, that can allow an ordinarily shy teen to talk with one or more members of the opposite sex without the pressure of being in person, or in real time.  Online relationships can then provide the groundwork for more successful offline relationships. This can be true in the professional world as well.  Instant messaging can help transcend barriers of schedule, location, and corporate position, allowing rank and file workers to access and create relationships with executives.   Whether an executive, a line manager, or professional employee, a blog can create a view into personality, interests, and opinions that can provide ground work for more successful real time interactions. While this is interesting and potentially advantageous in allowing humans to better connect, are we becoming slowly dependant on these technological platforms instead of developing more traditional social and communication skills as the introductory cartoon suggests?

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 31, 2006 2:36 am

    Mark, interesting post. That comic was right on. My view is, blogging is a great way to put your thoughts out there, whether they are just to have written down or to get some feedback on a thought, problem, topic, etc… It can spark creativity & ideas. I can’t tell you how many ideas I’ve had, solely from reading other blogs.

    I think, if you have the ability to interact with someone, face-to-face, that’s the way it should be. Instant messaging is great to get quick answers, but shouldn’t have a 30 minute meeting using it. Email is great to send an update, an idea, a document..but shouldn’t be used to get quick answers (use IM for that). As for blogging… I think blogging and wikis are becoming popular inside the work place for brainstorming and fact finding. It’s great, but should not replace the face-to-face and the need for quick reaction and quick thinking.

    Now, being thousands of miles away from friends or colleagues is another matter… blogging, IM, email, etc… are great to keep in touch and try to get the “face-to-face” type of conversations. The only other option is video conferencing, which I want to try while over here.

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