"My friends, family and acquaintances are all on Facebook, where they add up to a bustling community I enjoy being part of. More than any particular feature that Mark Zuckerberg and company have cooked up, it’s the people in my life that make Facebook, well, Facebook.
Over on Google+, I find some worthwhile material to peruse, but in far smaller quantities. The smattering of people I encounter hardly replicates my real-world social connections. The conversations are less warm, personal and interesting. As a social experience, it often feels perfunctory."
This post by Harry McCracken about the differences between Facebook and Google+ made me realise once again that the Internet is all about energy. Finding energy and sharing energy. Finding smart people whose conversations increase your energy and hopefully sharing your energy with others to help them do more, understand more, appreciate more, love more.
Life is too short for perfunctory exchanges. It is too short to spend time, and energy, where you think you should be spending it. Spend it where it makes you feel more alive.
I love the ability the Internet has given us to share what we think with others around the world or around our organisation. Yet you would be amazed how often I get the reaction "Most people don't want to have to think too much, especially at work".
While walking the streets of Warsaw last week, learning of the four years of suffering it took before the Jews rose up against the Nazis, I realised that most people would have convinced themselves that things couldn't be as bad as they seemed; that if they just did what they were told and kept their heads down then they and their families would be safe.
In Saudi Arabia earlier that same week, looking out on an audience in which the women were separated by the men with a screen, and for which the organisers had to have a special mixed audience licence, most people went along with the rules, covered their heads, sat separately from each other - despite many of them not sharing the fundamental beliefs of their rulers.
Most people want to be safe, most people want to care for their loved ones, most people don't want to think too hard if it gets them into trouble.
What would I have done in Nazi occupied Poland? What would I do if I had been born in Saudi Arabia?
Am I like most people?
I bought the first generation iPad as soon as it came out. Couldn't wait to own one. But three years later I still don't get it!
My problem is not so much the old argument about the iPad being a consumption rather than a production device. There are so many really effective tools that you can use on an iPad these days to do really useful work. In fact it was various podcasters' enthusiasm for those tools that made me go back and have a second try at using the iPad seriously. That and the fact that we are in need of moving tools around in the family again and I was interested to see if I could survive without my laptop. I can't.
My MacBook air is just too useful. I have it tricked out with all sorts of app launchers, text expanders, macros, productivity apps, and other apps that make it much easier for me to get more done faster and better. The combination of the best computer I have ever owned and my iPhone 5 is still impossible to beat. In contrast using the iPad was, for me, like wading through treacle.
To say I don't get it is perhaps unfair. I do get it, in the sense that it is an amazing device that is clearly useful to a lot of people. One day when I am feeling particularly flush I may get an iPad mini, but otherwise the iPad is not for me.
Maybe if my only other experience of computing was a work PC…
One of the things that most appeals to me about the Internet is its potential to cross political, geographical and cultural boundaries and make us feel more part of a connected whole than ever before.
Having said that I work around the world with people from widely varying cultures who have different perspectives on the Internet and its opportunities. In fact it is usually unproductive to assume that we are all the same and have the same expectations.
Maybe we need to celebrate, and possibly even reinforce, the differences before we start assuming too much about similarities? Maybe we can have both? Maybe we can feel more comfortable about the ways that we are different while at the same time growing to appreciate more the ways that we are the same?
It is interesting thinking back to the Thatcher era and how polarised we became. You can see it happening now online with the news of her death. You can see the same thing watching the current conservative government demonising people. Whether it is immigrants, skivers, it is always "them".
We fall into the same trap in organisations. Management are always dealing with "them" - employees, time wasters, even antagonistic customers. We distance ourselves from these others yet we define them on the basis of our worst fears - whether these fears are justified or not. We make sweeping generalisations and write off whole sections of society.
If we do this for long enough "they" get used to it and expect it. We allow "them" to wait for "us" to sort things and then we resent their dependence on us. We create a dependence culture both in society at large and in our organisations. But this allows us all to stay comfortable, to project our worries onto those around us, to stay stuck.
We need go grow up. We need to understand our projections and take responsibility for them. We need to stop thinking in terms of "us" and "them" and think more of "us". We need to think for ourselves and think of each other rather than for each other. We need to help each other to grow up.