I support the power of blogging (and other social media) but you’ve probably detected I also see a problem with over-communication. In the clamour for attention, bad information can drive out good – the memetic problem as I call it.
There is a moral imperative to say what needs to be said – and that may demand courage in some scenarios. But there is also a duty to communicate how, where and when it will contribute to the desired end. Ends and means have variable qualities and intentions. Trust is an important part of it.
Euan Semple is one of the web’s most intelligent bloggers (and twitterers) and I was struck by 4 or 5 posts from Euan since the new year that reflect the paradox here. Is more power to communicate always better, when saying and doing the right thing always demands courage ?
The first post, Blogging will change the world, is not contentious, if we focus on the power to make people think, but Euan does also highlight the status and influence aspect of such power in changing behaviour. Interestingly given the other posts, he quotes Brenda Ueland …
Because the best way to know Truth or Beauty is to try to express it. And what is the purpose of existence …. but to discover truth and beauty and express it, i.e, share it with others?
In Standing up and being counted Euan says
The people who [cynically mis-market unhealthy foods] have to know it is wrong and deceptive. They must sit in meetings discussing doing this. Not all of them can feel comfortable.
Following on from my last post about bullying attitudes in the workplace one of my aspirations for social media in business is that one day, when people get confident enough to say what they think, enough of them might just get the gumption together to stand up and say “guys this is wrong”. Maybe then we could put a stop to this sort of crap.
[Aside – I ask that people think of the DeLorean question of “why committees of moral men make immoral decisions”.]
And in that previous post Hard men are wankers he had said, after referring to antler-clashing, blokeishness, (and I might say, flame-war tendencies) in social media exchanges and recalling management bullying experiences, he then admits
Social media relies on people having the temerity to say what they think and others having the decency to listen. Forget Enterprise 2.0. The promise of social media will not become reality until you do something to reduce the power of the bullies.
ie with or without “Web2.0” (or the semantic web, I might say) people with the power to communicate and influence need “decency”. Interestingly in that same post Euan quotes Brenda Ueland again …
I hate [criticism] because of the potentially shining, gentle, gifted people of all ages,that it snuffs out every year. It is a murderer of talent. And because the most modest and sensitive people are the most talented, having the most imagination and sympathy, these are the very first ones to get killed off. It is the brutal egotists that survive.
A common theme of mine that criticism is fine only in moderation – the scientistic mentality that attempting to undermine every possible truth is the sole means of progress is flawed.
And in Terrorism, ooh that’s interesting after speculating on how the Detroit Christmas Day Delta attack might have been different if people seeing the security arrangements being circumvented had also been twittering, he says …
Yes, all of this could be misapplied and one could easily imagine scenarios where it led to panic and possibly injustice. … don’t we have it within our grasp to weed the weak signals from the strong ones? To work out well enough who we trust and what is real quickly enough to at least help the authorities do the right thing?
Strong, weak ? Since when was the right thing about power ?
[Post Note … here is the opposite problem.]
How do we work out whose communications we trust ? Interesting that Euan also sees real trust and decency in the eyes, in the flesh, in a hug with Chris Locke. Truth and beauty reside in trust (and dare I say, love) not in link counts or power.
(And again W3C Fig 7 says it.)