Before we developed our capability to use languages – to talk and listen by using an agreed upon vocabulary – there was probably no way to have some form of complex communication. Before paper and writing had been discovered there was simply one option: talk to someone face-to-face. After that one could decide whether to write a letter or meet someone to talk to probably after a multi day or week travel. And we rarely had the idea to communicate with people on a different continent.
|"Tower of Babel" by ThomasThomas.|
The phone invented more than 100 years ago opened up a third option and a real revolutionary one. Ten years ago many options had been added meanwhile, according to this 10-year-old article: audio tapes, video tapes, CD-ROMs, radio, fax, internet, e-mail, TV, video conferencing. What is meant by “internet” ? Well, remember, that was the Web 1.0 era, where a few could publish their messages through internet sites. Instant messaging and newsgroups are not mentioned as well but I guess have been available already to some extent, may be still too exotic in these days.
While reading through this list I realize how many options have been added meanwhile in the Web 2.0 era: blogs, wikis, photo and video and audio ( podcasts ) sharing sites, profile and social networking sites, bookmark sharing and survey sites, twitter, Q&A tools and collaborative document sharing sites. I believe: we experience a sort of exponential growth in the number of communication options.
This means that we have to invest some of our time in finding the right communication tool for a given purpose. Face-to-face, instant message, e-mail, comment on a profile page, blog post, wiki page, a document sent via e-mail or shared in any other way, a tweet, a phone call, a video conference, a meeting in a virtual world ? And for each option we have to find out: company internal or public ? Within the boundaries of an intranet or going out into the wild wild web ?
Will this actually lead to a smarter society, will this increase the body of knowledge of the human race or a particular community or enterprise, or are we more and more running into confusion how to use all these options right, how to communicate efficiently ? Are we encountering a new Tower of Babel phenomenon ?
Instead of becoming smarter, don’t we spent much time on trying to consolidate all these sources of information and to worry about how to use what communication vehicle efficiently ? Is there any value add in developing tools to feed or integrate multiple communication tools ? Is it good to have multiple social networks which are different ? Isn’t it more good luck than intention to find some useful information ? How much time do we spend each day to learn new communication tools and communicate about communication tools instead of focusing on something more important ? is there anything more important ? Why do we fail to take options away, to consolidate and to reduce complexity ? Is the human race or an enterprise as a collective unit intelligent, are its individuals, and where are we heading with this ? What dominates in our life: competition or collaboration ?
Am I getting too far with my questions ? Definitely yes. I will need to write some more postings to really sort out this brain dump.