The new social aspects of the Internet have had me puzzled for some time.
How close can you get to maintaining friendships through facebook?
What is the real value of YouTube?
What the hell do you use Twitter for?
Do any of these tools help us strengthen relationships with the people we already know?
Do they help us make new friends – real friends – and not just new names on a screen we become familiar with?
I'm starting to figure this out.
My first conclusion was simple – "these are the new toolsets we have at our avail. They are only as effective as how we use them".
They're an extension of the tools we had already in email, instant messaging, books and magazines, and personal video recording camera and players.
We will all fashion these tools to use them to suit our needs. We will integrate these components into our lives. And perhaps we will integrate our lives into these components.
We will pick who we want to keep track of, by adding them as friends or by becoming fans of them in facebook, We can follow their updates – or tweets – on Twitter.
But that is too simple – the question is much deeper than that.
Why then are these tools having such a seemingly greater impact on society than even the tools we had before them?
I have found that I use facebook for keeping contact with people from my past and present that I care about. I use Twitter for searching out people that I can learn from. Both facebook and Twiitter will point me to blogs with more deeper richer content, like Ian Aspin's ReallyGoodThinking .
I write my headstuffing blog posts because I have a passion for writing, and I learn to be a better writer with each post – at least I hope I do.
Ian Aspin has been very interesting lately as he is delving into various impacts that these same social medias have had on our culture – both European and North American.
Yesterday, Ian inspired me with a simple tweet on Twitter – a text message to the world of no more than one hundred and forty characters long.
Yesterday, Ian sent out a Twitter tweet, simply thanking two people for inspiration for a series he is doing on the BBC's Radio 4 Sunday Morning show. Since Ian is a man I draw inspiration from, I was quite interested to see who Ian draws his inspirations from.
The first person was a former silicon valley dot.net entrepreneur from the first wave of the dot.com boom. Andrew Keen – since the dawn of this second wave of internet social tools have emerged – has written and spoken at length about the cautions and debates the world needs to hold about social media content – summing them up in a book called "The Cult of the Amateur".
The foundation of this book by Mr. Keen is that the new media – led by bloggers like me and posters of homemade video to sites like YouTube undermines our existing foundations for truly talented writers, authors, and truly talented video producers and such. He goes into great depth to defend this argument – exposing the already known truth that you cannot simply take internet content – using the known frailties of sites like Wikipedia and their unsupervised ability to allow anyone to post "facts" - and accept it as fact – and in the end, it becomes very difficult to discover talent or truth in the ocean of inane content.
Mr. Keen is a marvelous writer – and spells out his points and positions with great passion and vernacular elegance.
However his passion to dispel the new social medias rang out to be as loud as a Michael Moore pseudo-documentary – hell bent on proving his point and failing in such a loud voice that in my opinion it weakened his argument.
Now I am certain the Mr. Keen would be horrified that I compared him to Michael Moore. And rightly so should he take me to task – I would immediately apologize. His work was clearly much more thought out and not nearly as exaggerated as Moore's "Sicko" or "Bowling for Columbine".
But his passion struck me. And his conviction to what he believed moved me.
Which then led me to Ian Aspin's second receiver of tweeted appreciation. Patrick Dixon.
Patrick Dixon describes himself as a futurist. He sees trends and patterns in places some would not look. He inspires by a personality of seemingly natural leadership composed primarily of a positive passion. Mr. Dixon, like me, sees the existing tools like facebook and twitter and blogs as the current stepping stone on a long path to our social evolution.
It is what it is.
But there was that word again …
So I found a video on YouTube – the very site stated by Mr. Keen to be so swamped with untalented drivel and amateurish efforts – of Patrick Dixon delivering an entire motivational lecture to a group of public service workers from a city in Wales. The whole lecture!
I watched that entire lecture on YouTube as though I were a member of some week long seminar in Wales – with the absolute pleasure of seeing Mr. Dixon deliver the best keynote session I had ever witnessed.
So moving that I was ready to sell my house in Ontario, move to Wales and become a public servant.
Ok, not quite – but I learned so much from his lecture on leadership, and inspiring those that you work with – simply by holding your passions deep, and taking the interest in who you work with – as well as using tools such as demographics to trend a guided path to lead your troops passionately and sincerely on a path all are convinced is for the betterment of your teams goals.
So what did I come away from this single day of looking for truth and direction?
The answer is passion. The underlying desire to make things better!
Between these three individuals – all highly educated – all well respected – all persons of conviction in their quest to help lead society to a better place – the lowest common denominator was passion.
"Hey … I have that same passion too!", I said to myself as my epiphany unveiled itself before my very eyes.
We all do.
As I sat and thought about it more, I realized that I go out of my way to surround myself with passionate people.
My lovely wife Darlene is an excellent registered nurse, driven by her passion to ensure people receive the best medical attention possible.
The best people that I work with and am friends with are those that our passionate not only about what their role in their positions – but how they can help our company excel at our prime directive of enhancing the common good.
The best friends that I have are people passionate about their personal interests such as underwater photography, sailing, or even playing golf.
My favorite Detroit sports journalist, Pat Caputo, is so good because he is so passionate about sports and the area that he serves in Detroit and his desire to enhance peoples appreciation of both.
So what is the value of these new social medias like facebook, twitter, blogs, and YouTube?
You can use these mediums to spread your passion. To help inspire a world full of people like yourself, those that you know, and those you have not yet met, looking just as hard as you are to learning more about how to satisfy their passions to make things in their world – our world - better.
In the course of a day yesterday, these social media tools allowed me to uncover the tip of the iceberg to even more fantastic people, thoughts, concepts.
Perhaps even a better world.