Warning: Broad and unrefined speculation follows.
This week I tweeted:
This was an indirect reaction to a blog post by Maureen Crawford (Press Pause, Let Go, Let Flow), including her tweet stating “Internet is liquid not solid”. Musings on several other posts by MACT cohort colleagues Kelly Spencer (The Power of Flow in a Network) and Rohit Sandhu (Globalization through the lens of networks) kept these thoughts tumbling over the last 24 hours. What I’ve been mulling over is how fragmented I’ve felt my time spent online has been over the past few months.
This past month, my nightly routine has been:
- Open Tweetdeck and see what’s going on
- Check email on my phone or tablet
- Check online new sources
- Check blog sources
- Check facebook
- Check course outlines
- Prepare blog post
- Prepare wiki posts
- Check LinkedIn
- Find a new Social media site and see if it’s useful, or offers anything new
- And several other steps I won’t bore you with
Yes, push notifications on my tablet and phone automate this process somewhat. Yes, news aggrigators mean that I can check multiple media sites at a glance. Yes, I’ve come up with a system to manage links. However, it still feels very static, despite the comfort level that I have begun to feel. Then I realized what was wrong: I’ve been pressing the keys but I’m not making music.
I’m not yet at the point where there is melody in what I’m doing online. I’m pressing each individual social key but only occasionally is there relation to what I’m composing. I’m not sure if this is just me or if it is a technical fact of an instrument that is still in the early stages of development.
Then @dianambrown challenged me to develop the idea further:
Here is my response to date (requiring much more thought), continuing the musical metaphor, in three steps (and purely speculative):
- In order to continue developing the skills necessary to one day reach the potential of cross-internet mastery, we need more practice and the ability to personally tune our instruments. I think that practice is coming in droves, considering the amount of time that we’re spending attached to our devices. This tuning process is taking a bit longer, although it is catching on with coding being introduced in some classrooms, especially in the UK.
- As we are developing our skills, we will also continue to develop new systems to fill in the gaps in our communication ability. The number of apps launched each day is staggering. Filling in the holes in our networked lives has become big business and the only way to get a foot in the door in a saturated app market is to find something nobody else is doing.
- Of course, the last step is the hardest to describe. In my tweet back to @dianambrown I called it “personally relevant design.” What I meant by this is really being able to plan, select, modify, and launch our own set of features, using the skills and theory developed in practice, across the platforms selected to further our own means. This is the process akin to playing each note in a song and having the result be music, rather than just a series of tones. This is where online communication might begin to feel individual rather than an appropriation of someone else’s ideas.
At that point, if we ever reach it, our submissions to each other would reach a new level of meaning (hopefully understanding). Of course, at this speculative level, it sounds very utopian, and is meant to be so. Some of this may tie into discussions about the semantic web and, taken to its extreme, human-machine collaboration not dissimilar to conversations about technological singularity.
In any case, our ability to manipulate our experiences online, in order to achieve a more personal communication style, has already begun and has certainly come a long way, even in the last decade. Learning about and experiencing online communication in the last month has granted brief flashes of insight. At some point, I hope that they can coalesce into a coherent whole.