Saturday, 29 September 2007

Seeing the bigger picture – the problem with focusing on technology

We understand everything from a position of prior knowledge, and make assumptions based on that knowledge. These two videos illustrate this point beautifully – one is the old Guardian advert from the 80’s, promoting the paper’s unbiased views, the other, a video cartoon using familiar images (!) as a starting point, and creating something completely different from them. In both cases, it’s the bigger picture that is important, not your initial assumptions.

We tend to jump to conclusions based on our existing knowledge and prior experiences, to focus on just one part of what we are seeing and experiencing to such an extent that we sometimes fail to see the bigger picture – this I feel is the case with social networking and our dependance on technology. I feel we are spending too much time thinking and talking about web 2.0, enterprise 2.0, library 2.0 etc etc, and not enough time understanding the human element of the changes that are occuring in work and business, and indeed, in our social lives at this time. We are concentrating on what we know, focusing in on just one part of the picture. I’m guilty of this as much as the next person, but it’s starting to concern me.

Yes, the internet helps us to connect and share and communicate and collaborate – but are we doing this to the deteriment of having quality, real life interactions? The bigger picture has technology as ELEMENT of what’s happening. It’s an enabler, not an end in itself. Email has reduced the number of telephone calls we make, texting is the communication tool of choice for millions of people – what about conversation? I spend more time on Facebook than I do meeting up with the people I’m communicating with!

The bigger picture – surely it’s about humanity and not technology? Maybe we should all get out more….

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Moroccan Adventure

Having finished my dissertation, my hubby and I decided to get away, and a cheap flight to Morocco was too much of an opportunity to turn down.

Little did I know that I'd be on a crash course in communication. I came back being able to speak a smattering of French, a smidgen of Berber and a wee bit of Moroccan Arabic. In fact, I realised more than ever, that we are all the same, wherever we live.

I managed to communicate despite having no idea what people were saying and picked up language without really knowing how. It was a real lesson in situated learning - without being immersed in the language, I don't think I'd ever have learned as much. The same goes for the culture of Morocco - staying in a Riad with a Moroccan housekeeper who was adamant that I'd learn how to pour mint tea in an acceptable way brought the culture to life and I'm now equipped to at least visit a Moroccan home without showing myself up and not pouring the first cup of tea back in the pot!

They say travel broadens the mind - I can certainly see why.