Happy New Year for 2012 – how to cope with the flow

First post in a while – I didn’t manage a post for December so busy it was getting research projects finished up in time for Christmas. In the dying moments of the year someone asked me to give predictions for research in 2012 and I was startled to discover I couldn’t think of any.  I don’t want to parrot on about more co-creation, more online, more mobile. Because people have been saying that every January for some years now. And more of the same is a pretty lame prediction. More switching off is probably closer to the mark – because people have to find ways of coping with the volume of research requests, the blurring between researching and selling, and the degradation of our attention with the increase in bogus and fake requests and sales pitches. Even searching for a particular post is tiring because indexing is so thorough that there are duplicates – there’s clutter everywhere and you need energy to tackle it – so stick to who and what you already know.

I’ve been intrigued by a post I found here which cites Zuckerberg’s law (this is the Mark Zuckerberg who founded Facebook) which is that every internet user is sharing twice as much as they were a year ago. I’m not sure that its true or that is sustainable – certainly we have the technical capability and the skills to share a lot more but I’m now sure we have the will to.  But what it indicates is how much relational communication is going on. And this is putting under pressure two other activities which we can conduct more efficiently namely broadcasting and surfing. Sharing takes time and has unique indexing problems. One reason why I keep emails as long as possible and refer back to conversations from years ago.

So if I can make a plea for what we need to get a lot better at is dialogue – deep listening and talk which picks up on what has been heard. It doesn’t have to be just 2 people – researchers are good at creating bigger conversations – but this is different from chatter, or the social echo where a thought is echoed and parrotted but never really developed.  So much social media noise is chatter like background noise in a public place.  Marketing when given half a chance loves to dominate the single channel and to use 100% (with time for questions afterwards if the channel allows it). Dialogue is the poor relation. But we are going to need it if the rise in chatter doesn’t drive us to switch off in larger droves.



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