Technology and Communications

I suspect that few of us would disagree with the hypothesis that technology has fundamentally, radically,  and perhaps forever changed the nature of communication.

In a private e-mail exchange I speculated that the neo-communicators (specializing in technocom) were becoming a much larger group that than the paleo-communicators (i.e., folks like me).   If I want to communicate with them it will be increasingly on their terms, not mine.

We have, of course, considered this phenomenon — technocom — at several of the annual BLSCI symposia.

The provocation for raising this issue again with you is the article “Does Your Company Have an IT Generation Gap?” from Accenture.  The abstract for this article reads:

“Surrounded by technology all their lives, the newest members of today’s workforce want a big say in the tech tools they need to do their jobs. They also say they want to pick their employers based on the “coolness” of the technology available to them. Those are just some of the challenges that business leaders must respond to now—before the Millennials’ kid brothers and sisters start joining the workforce.”

If you accept the hypothesis I advanced in the beginning of this post, then the force of “coolness” ought to concern you for it portends, as I see it, continued change in communications.  If we, the paleos, are unprepared, then we’re going to be left behind.  And being left behind means declining relevance and value.

To paraphrase a podcast I heard a few days ago, “If you don’t understand what’s going on, hire a nine-year old.”

I sense this, obviously, as an issue of growing significance.  My institution is doing little about it.  What about yours?


Blogging and Writing

I borrow the title of this post from a post of the same name by Irving Wladawsky-Berger.  Wladawsky-Berger has been one of my favorite bloggers for some time because of the breadth and depth of his writing and his useful pointers.

I bring this post to your attention because it examines the issue of blogging and writing, all to often written as blogging versus writing as if there was an either/or choice.

It’s worth a read for the useful ideas that we might find ways to pass on to other.

From literacy to digiracy: Will reading and writing remain important?

This article from the May 16, 2008 issue of The Economist is provocative in its challenge to us as business people, educators, and, to a lesser extent, students.

The content aligns well with what has been the major themes of the recent annual symposiums (at least the last two; maybe the last three).

Are we doing anything different?  I don’t mean little things, but big things — things that embody a significant change in communications quality.  Quite frankly, I don’t think I am, and I find this a somewhat humbling, troubling conclusion.  Am I too set in my ways?  Do I lack the capability and capacity?  Am I too worried about trends that are, in the long run, insignificant?

The Latest in New Rules

Your attention is called to “Thumbs Race as Japan’s Best Sellers Go Cellular” on page 1 of the New York Times for January 20, 2008.

This is the most extreme example I have encountered of the phenomena discussed in last year’s annual symposium.

It’s hard to deny the results of this approach to communications. That is, the needs of the parties in the communication are being satisfied. And, in the end, isn’t that the aim of communications?

That conventions are being changed is, I’m afraid, the inevitable result of the release of new methods amongst significant numbers of people who are unafraid and are motivated to explore Frost’s “road not taken.”

New rules are an irresistible force and we need to find a way, as those who have preceded us have had to do (e.g., consider the developments in communications over the centuries), to come to some accommodation with these new practices.

Transformation in communication will undoubtedly accelerate. This accelerated change and its “tipping points” will lead to miscommunication, the subject of this year’s symposium. Managing change and its attendant outcomes thus becomes critical as “new speak” (I think I picked this up from Orwell.) continually influences our lives.

At the risk of inflaming passions, let me advance the notion that we must be on guard against becoming the Luddites of language.

Improve Your Writing with these Editing Tips

Some good advice here.

E-Mail Is Easy to Write (And to Misread)

Here is an item from today’s New York Times that warrants consideration when it comes to effective communications.  It suggests to me that when you want to absolutely, positively sure that your communications has been properly understood, do it face-to-face.

The last line from the piece:

‘As Professor Shirky puts it, “social software” like e-mail “is not better than face-to-face contact; it’s only better than nothing.”’

The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint

Here’s a venture capitalist telling suitors how to package their ideas.

Should this, how would this change our approach to teaching communications?

Keeping Up with Kirsner

Our intrepid symposium moderator, Scott Kirsner, has a blog.

Do You Speak International?

Gill Corkindale, writing in Harvard Business Online, has authored this interesting post on the development of communications in global business. Corkindale has a considerable amount of experience and is worth the read.

If an objective of our educational system is to produce students who survive, thrive, and make a difference in the world, then we must (as I believe I have argued before) be cognizant of the target environment and make sure that we do all we can do to prepare the student to “make it there.”

Channels, Audience Needs, and Communications: The Rise of an Idea

After this year’s Schwartz Symposium, where I once again served as a moderator, I decided to publish a short paper describing the results of the table discussion in which I participated. Described is the evolution of an idea and the research needs it suggests.

The link to the paper is below.

Channels, Audience Needs, and Communications – The Rise of a Idea.pdf 102K