Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The risk of reliance on real time

I noticed , via the gift of twitter, that JP Rangaswami has been busy nailing it again – this time on the subject of hierarchy.
He was clearly speaking at some event or other – and illuminating the world with his thinking as he so often does (for I knew of his thinking from the tweets being sent from an admiring audience).
Thing is, what he was talking about was what he was shaping and had substantially published on his blog back in January.

Nutshell: Hierarchies are required when the cost of co-ordination is high; in the age of the web they are much lower so we need them much less. Read his original post in full (I recommend it and many other of his posts).

In a pre Twitter age I’d have read JP’s blog post the day it was published. As my flow of information sped up, so I missed it. That’s the risk of reliance on real time. (image courtesy Col_Adamson)
Blogs stand on the asynchronous side of connecting us. We do well to remember that organisations that fit the network best enable both synchronous (together, at the same time) communications alongside asynchronous (not at the same time).
Which re-emphasises the point I made earlier this week: Messages are meant to connect us, not to persuade us.
Connection has value to us both at the moment of need (real time) and at the point of discovery (there awaiting our moment of need).
For example; if I have a fault with my car and I can connect with 5 car mechanics right now, one of them may be able to answer my query. But if they and the 2000 other members of a forum have recorded their answers for later discovery that may offer a wider range of niche answers to niche concerns.
If everyone is connected all the time then real-time wins. But unless and until, then we also need asynchronous.

This perhaps illustrates another fine point – made again in a blog post, by Hugh MacLeod (Gaping Void) that
“Blogging hasn’t changed, you have. What’s happening on the Internet isn’t important; What’s important is that the world knows how you intend to change it. Right here. Right now.”
The point is that a tweet has much less opportunity to become a social object – a thing around which a community of purpose – folk who care about something enough to do something about it – can gravitate.
A blog post – at least one with purpose - stands as its own social object; a thing around which conversation happens; the aggregator of folk who care; the maker of change.
Tweets (and Facebook too) serve very well to point at these social objects – to spread the messages that can connect us. But it is rare that they are the social object itself.
I say rare – not impossible. We have all seen examples: We Love the NHS springs to mind.
However, if nothing else, my miss of JP’s blogpost combined with Hugh’s call to action will do one thing for me; I aim to rebalance my time spent blogging vs time spent tweeting and see what that does for my ability to connect.

By the way this is the 1002nd post on this blog. If I'd been paying more attention we'd have all had a party two posts ago...

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?