Can I Hear You Now?

Bob Sprankle, Bit By Bit, Nov 08, 2007
Commentary by Stephen Downes

There are two ways to view communications skills in the network. This is one way: "From the stand point of the communicator, it means that they must produce messages that compete for attention. Therefore, it is no longer enough to simply be able to write a coherent paragraph. We must be able to express ourselves compellingly, so that our information will compete for the attention of our audiences." It is a depiction of the network, red in tooth and claw, as individual nodes compete with each other for more and more connections. Then there is the other way, where the node processes information and communicates, not with reference to the competition, but rather, with reference to its own nature, striving to be the best of whatever type of node it is and letting the connection chips fall where they may. This sort of node uses connections, not as some sort of weapon, but in a spirit of cooperation, linking and sharing as an exchange of mutual value.

If you think the internet is about competition, then you have really missed the meaning of the message. The initiatives that succeed online - including this newsletter - are those that have focused on development (including excellent software), communication and sharing. The people who try to accumulate links, who try to shout their competition into submission, may enjoy a temporary success, but I've seen them come and go, as time after time they can momentarily amuse and delight, but, lacking any sort of sustainability, they burn out in a bitter welt of acrimony and remonstration. Being Heard is about having something to say, and you can only have something to say if you have been listening, have been open to being part of a conversation, and not the sole speaker.
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