How technology is killing the way we communicate

The death of the paragraph

The death of the paragraph

Your leading thoughts…

As a leader who reads this blog, your input to this topic is encouraged.

Feel free to use any or all of the following questions to stimulate your thinking:

Q1: In your opinion, has technology (e.g. mobile phone, Internet) changed the way we communicate with each other?

Q2: How has technology changed the way you communicate?

Q3: What changes do you envisage to the way we communicate with each other in future?

Q4: What are or will be the other communication casualties of technology?

Comments 63

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  2. Iggy Pintado

    Robin

    My response to all questions is this. In the last 15 years, technological developments have given humans permission to evolve from purely direct “communication” to an advanced form of “connection”. We still meet face-to-face, chat on the telephone and handwrite letters and cards primarily. But now this interaction is enhanced and embellished by what I’ve defined as connection technologies. Technologies that allow us to communicate AND stay connected.

    Whether it’s on a mobile phone while we’re on the move, online networking with contacts around the globe and/or commenting on blog posts – and contributing comments -posted by learned folk. We are now connecting to people who have this technology available to them across every social boundary, both individually and in communities.

    The are challenges and opportunities – both too many to mention in this post. Has it changed us? Of course it has. But what a great era to be living in when the world is a much smaller place and diversity is the norm.

    I wrote a book on this whole connection idea called Connection Generation. I’d like to donate two books – one to you, Robin and the other to whoever you deem to come up with the best comment on this post.

    Cheers, Iggy

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Thanks, Iggy. That’s an amazing offer. Thank-you.

      And your gift to me is received with great appreciation and respect.

      For more information about Iggy’s book see: http://www.connectiongeneration.com

      I love your point about ‘connection technologies’ and think that really nails the heart of this discussion. It’s the pressing together of two worlds ‘the world of connecting’ – our longing to share, respond and reach-out, and the ‘world of technology’ – our mastery of applied problem-solving and innovation.

      When two worlds collide, anything can happen – and I can’t wait to read the comments.

      Best, Robin πŸ™‚

  3. Raz Chorev

    Robin, let me be brief πŸ™‚
    1. technology has swamped us in information. Too much to handle…
    To get our message across effectively, we need to be short, and to the point. We also need to be quick – electronic communication is instant, and we now expect instant responses, whether it is SMS, Email or DMs. Also, being limited to 140 characters forces us to be concise.
    2. Electronic communication for me has increased the efficiency of my work day:
    * Instead of writing a letter, mailing it, and waiting for response, I can now send an email, and get a response within a few hours…
    * I don’t have to make disruptive phone calls, I can confirm convenient time for a phone meeting by email.
    * SMS is a huge time saver, as you can communicate a short message without making a phone call, which will take a lot longer (small talk, chitchat, etc)
    3. I think the communication casualties will be:
    * Language – spelling will have limited importance, as we use short forms 4 words (digits, single letters, symbols, etc)
    * Face to face communication. F2F meetings are time consuming, and we are getting very short in time…
    * Hand Writing skills- as we use keyboards, we will no longer need to learn how to write…

    Raz

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Thanks, Raz. That’s an excellent, ‘brief’ comment. I noticed your minimal use of paragraphs, too. πŸ˜‰

      Your list of communication casualties has me intrigued. Do you think these things are good, bad – or just the way it is? What are the consequences of these ‘deaths’? Does it matter to us as humans that these things are dying out? Why?

      You’re a good man, Raz. I’m lucky to have met you and be a part of your community.

      Best, Robin πŸ™‚

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  5. Raz Chorev

    Robin, the pleasure is mine!
    In regards to the casualties:
    Languages are ever changing and evolving. Slang and new words are always needed to describe new objects, emotions, etc…
    Humans are changing and evolving, and using technology to ease our lives and make it more efficient on one hand, and longer on the other. Our life expectancy is longer than ever, we live longer, healthier life than ever before.
    I don’t feel these casualties I mentioned before are a big loss to humans, given what we’re getting in return – Longer, healthier, and better quality of life…We are more informed, better educated, and have access to more information and knowledge than ever before.
    We can sacrifice hand writing skills for that privilege, can’t we?

    The decrease in face to face communication will not hurt us, in my opinion, as I believe the QUALITY of the F2F time will increase. Take Tweet ups, for example – we communicate with these people during the week via online communication tools, yet when we get together in person, we have so much to talk about.
    One more thing, if I may, regarding the language:
    As we become a global village, people from all over the world communicate in a universal language – English. However, this is not the Shakespearean English, is it? It is a modern, more pheonitical form of the English language. It is easier to understand and communicate with for people from non-English background (like myself), and it is understood by English speaking people, so why not??

    Raz

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Thanks, Raz.

      Your point about the complementary relationship between on-line and off-line communication is an important distinction. I have also experienced the almost ‘concentrated value’ of live, non-technology-based communication with people after weeks of on-line priming.

      There are people in the virtual world I’ve met via Twitter and skype but never face-to-face. I’m really looking forward to meeting them ‘live’ and ‘fleshing out’ our communication.

      A single universal language! Now that’s food for thought.

      Raz, you’ve really opened the topic up for others to build on.

      Best, Robin πŸ™‚

  6. Carolyne Wildman

    Rob,
    As a long-time lover of language, with all of it’s glorious complexities and intricacies at our disposal to communicate and articulate precisely what we wish to convey, AND a new lover of the fast, exciting panoply of electronic communication tools, I find this issue a personal conundrum.

    When I read the endless electronic solecisms, committed in haste and sloppiness (or worse, apathy!) it offends my righteous dedication to “proper” use of our language as a means to communicate. I am no saint on the grammatical Sinai! But I do put forth a sincere, concerted effort to avoid mishandling or abusing language.

    That said, I do realise that our new mistress cannot perform her intended objective if we take the time to lucubrate at length and choose our words as carefully as we should to avoid miscommunications on our end and misinterpretations and misconstrues at the other.

    That is really the root problem here -the grave danger of using instantaneous tools to convey relatively important communications, on which relationships and business and revenue depend. It only takes a quick click to crumble months of hard work building human-to-human trust and respect.

    “What did she mean by that comment?” People, by nature, are very quick to judge and apply their own twisted perceptions to anything they find abstruse. Our brains are quite lazy. If it can’t comprehend something instantly, it is wont to attach the next best meaning. In short – it starts to invent it’s own meanings around the unclear communication it has received.

    So, in this new frontier of communication, how can we have our cake and eat it too?

    You can’t fight city hall. So, I believe the answer lies NOT in acquiescence, but in creating new ways to help our modern vehicles adapt precise language and meaning to the speed we now need. We require a new tool for our new tools! A language-based appurtenance, if you will indulge me one last specific word of concise meaning. πŸ™‚

    Love your work, Rob! You always get me thinking deeply.

    Cheers, Carolyne

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Thanks, Carolyne.

      “We require a new tool for our new tools! A language-based appurtenance,..” Thank goodness for on-line dictionaries. Your vocabulary is rich indeed.

      So in this new frontier that you describe, if language has already failed to keep up with technology, and technology is changing so rapidly, does it even make sense to enter a kind of never-ending retro-fit of language to fit the technology of the moment? The proverbial ‘trying to fit 6 pounds of dirt into a four pound bag’ dilemma.

      Raz alluded to keyboards superseding the need for handwriting – and I would build on that to say keyboards must surely be on the endangered species list.

      Is it time to completely reinvent our approach to language? Is language even the right term any more? Let’s face it, the ‘language-based’ model has been around for centuries, and has evolved around a low-tech, high-touch environment (thanks to Kristina’s comment below).

      Thanks for your thought-provoking and erudite addition to this conversation.

      Best, Robin πŸ™‚

  7. Kristina

    Hello Robin,

    I appreciate long productive conversations and short informative tweets. And I hold in high esteem those who know how to bring one to a timely conclusion and intelligently expand the other.

    I value technologically enhanced communication, of course, but nothing comes close to the intonations of a voice, the firmness of a handshake, and the power of looking someone straight in the eyes. When technology has enabled that connection then all has come full circle.

    I’ve always found Denis Waitlely’s term of high-touch high-tech descriptively apt for our times and needs.

    Best, Kristina

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      I must say, Kristina, that you are one of the people I’ve met on-line whom I’m really looking forward to meeting “live” some day.

      So, using this situation as a bit of a case study, the high-tech/high touch nature of our communication has worked well – or rather, we’ve made it work for us. The technology has worked. The language has been made to work. We’ve trimmed it and squeezed it, twisted and shoved it into tweets, posts and comments, but we’ve made it work.

      Is the fact that our non-technology/live communication is a vastly superior experience due to the fact that we (royal we) have avoided paying any real attention to seriously reinventing and enriching the virtual experience (gross generalisation to make point) and insisted on making ancient communication methods (writing, language etc) yield to our modern ‘connection technologies’ (refer: Iggy’s point – above)?

      Inspired by your contribution,

      Best, Robin πŸ™‚

  8. Andy

    Rob, some interesting questions.

    I was just discussing the other day the changes that were occurring with language. I find it interesting that education hasn’t really changed that drastically with regards to the English language. However, it feels like almost a reverse in evolution when I take a look at my little sister’s Facebook page. Or indeed the comments on the page of the mother who posted a pic of her baby with a cigarette on Facebook recently.

    Grammar has been thrown out the window and new words and meanings have been introduced. Given they are new I suppose we should call this evolution, it doesn’t always have to be positive.

    Technology has facilitated or perhaps caused a need for speed. We abbreviate, skip unnecessary punctuation and create entirely new words that sound like the old English language we used to take care in using.

    I think that whilst technology has simplified communication, it may yet emerge to improve and personalise communication further. The ultimate (or so far in my vision) evolution of holographs and the appearance of a full body holograph appearing to communicate with. Almost going full circle…

    I’d like to agree that language is being killed. But I think we’re in the middle of something that is taking a step back to take 2 steps forward. The printed word still finding its feet (relevance) in the digital world…

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Hi Andy, great to connect with you.

      Love your thinking. To your point that “education hasn’t really changed that drastically with regards to the English language” – do you think it needs to change? Should we in-fact be teaching a kind of Language 2.0 that is technology-based and built for speed?

      Or, are we better off ignoring the technological leaps and language corruption in-lieu of continually correcting the rebels (that would be most people under the age of what? 24?).

      Your point about “the evolution of holographs” is fascinating. Do we even need language in its current manifestation i.e. printed word-based, or are we better off developing a kind of holographic hieroglyphic system (like Ancient Egypt meets Star-gate)?

      Best to you, Andy.

      Robin πŸ™‚

  9. Rich

    Robin – I should probably start by saying that I love words. I know people say that a picture tells a thousand words (and I wholeheartedly agree), but I’d also argue that a word can start ten thousand stories.

    What people often forget is that their words are not simply a form of communication or data transfer, they are also a vehicle for their own self-expression. It’s how we say what we say that inevitably reveals our true thought and feelings, and I worry that modern communications channels and technologies are forcing our words down a one-size-fits-all pipeline. How many times have you had an argument, or – if you’re more good-natured than most – heard of people arguing about an email or text message that has been misinterpreted in some way or other? Lost without context or the tone and manner that accompanies face-to-face or even longer, more traditional forms of communication, individual interpretation runs wild. It wasn’t so long ago that the written word burst with meaning, but now it seems empty of emotion, a dreary conveyor belt of grey information. Tweet this, update that.

    Only last week, there was an article in the press concerning the fact that teenagers in the UK only use an average of 800 words per day – what’s more, “yeh”, “no” and “but” all feature in the top 20. It’s claimed to be the result of text messaging and the like. It was also linked to the influence of hip-hop culture, which is a real shame, especially when you consider that music has long been an area of popular culture rammed full with the linguistic and storytelling prowess of everyone from Frank Sinatra to Gorillaz.

    I’m all too happy to be proved wrong, or at least proved short-sighted in my yearning for a time when words held more sway. Now more than ever, the media is the message (and the message is merely incidental). But Andy – a mate of mine, by the way – is probably right in that we may well simply be taking a step back in order to take two steps forward.

    Either way, I think you’re asking a pretty fundamental questions for our times.

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Hi Rich,

      I’m honoured to have your valuable (I was tempted to write ‘rich’ ;)) contribution to this topic. Thank you.

      Your description of the dumbing-down of language to a one-size-fits-all palette of speed enhancers is something that fascinates me.

      I hear your lament for “a time when words held more sway”. I hear you.

      So, can we find a way to express ourselves – our feelings, our creativity, in a way that is authentic and achieves the goal of all communication, that of ‘shared meaning’ – that we understood each other, using a Language 2.0 reinvention of the written word?

      So often I’ve struggled to to use emoticons, dot-points, sound bytes and text abbreviations to express my feelings and creativity. That’s one of the reasons I have started adding drawings to my posts!

      What’s the abbreviation that expresses curiosity, assertiveness, fear or silence? Where’s the emotional short-hand?

      And yet the ancient cave paintings and markings tell us their stories and give us technology-enhanced now-sters important clues.

      Best to you, Rich.

      Robin πŸ™‚

  10. @BenDawe

    What an amazing word count of comments. Carefully written paragraphs flooded in to rebut your amusing cartoon, so I guess there’s part of an answer to Q’s 1-4.

    Here’s a question for the group that occurred to me within this discussion.

    Had Shakespeare lived in our time, would he:

    1. Have run a small high-brow theatre in the West End?
    2. Have been a broadly popular film writer and director?
    3. Have been a novelist with mass appeal?
    4. Have been a literary novelist?
    5. Have been a blogger who shunned the old media?
    6. Have been a blogger who pretended to shun the old media online while accepting large advances for books about shunning the old media?

    best
    Ben

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Thanks, Ben. Nice angle.

      And what of Vergil, Dante Alighieri or Chaucer – the Yahwist, even? Can you imagine The Aeneid, the Inferno or Genesis published as tweets or text messages – replete with emoticons? And the room cringed.

      Who are the new digital savants or is that the millennial oxymoron? Perhaps they are already creating genius right under our noses but we lack eyes to see it. Surely, genius just harnesses the tools of the day to unleash its beauty and elegance.

      Maybe it’s time for Renaissance 2.0. Will you lead the charge, Ben?

      Best, Robin πŸ™‚

      1. Roger Lawrence

        “An author’s only desire is to be read” C.S.Lewis.

        The flaw in your hypothesis Robin, beautiful, intricate though those works are – and I read the Ilead in the original Latin – is that none of those authors HAD the technology of today.

        Many of those works were Epic Poems, or songs even, memorised and told or sung to an audience, themselves illiterate. If they had the opportunities of today, they would have used the amplifying effect of technology without necessarily dumbing down the works.

        So I say film director/producer.

        As an aside I’d recommend doing a search on Visual Poetry. A new genre of media using words, sound, and imagery to revitalise a lost art. Inspiring. I’m looking to publish some myself over the next few months.

  11. Chrysula Winegar

    I’m having lunch in New York next week with a group of women I deeply admire (one of whom I’ve been wanting to meet for 10 years). Met them all through Twitter. Yes you have to sort the wheat from the chaff in the midst of the overload. But those precious golden kernels are so worth it.

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Well said, Chrysula.

      Pushing forward into the digital headwind, I have struggled – and continue to struggle with on-line communication.

      It only really started coming together when I participated in skype discussions with wonderful leaders such as Scott Gould, Brad Shorr and Michael Greenland.

      Then actually meeting Twitter pals at a live tweet-up started to reveal those precious golden kernels you mentioned.

      My key takeaways from your comment are to persist with people irrespective of the difficulties and friction that arise in this compacted, accelerated mode of communication.

      Best to you, Robin πŸ™‚

  12. Barry Dalton

    Hey Robin,
    So happy we connected via @tedcoine I’m a big fan of Ted’s. And I love the layout of your blog. So to your question….

    I don’t necessarily think social technology is killing the way we communication. Your actual questions are more on point. Yes, absolutely. Technology has already, permanently and irreversibly changed the way we communicate with each other. Whether for better or worse, I think all depends on the individual and his use of these communication tools.

    The negative aspects of the paradigm shift are always the easiest to highlight. And these aspects are nothing new. Going back to the beginning of time, people’s behavior has been influenced by the channel through which they communicate. (Some) people tend to be more assertive, rude or crass over the phone than in person.

    Then along came email; and email muscles. We’ve heard countless stories of the fights picked; employee firings, relationship break ups and other challenging personal engagements being conducted behind the veil of the keyboard. So, bad behavior in alternative communication channels is nothing new.

    My approach? I have been fortunate over the past several years, through social channels, to meet and learn from so many new people that I would have never been exposed to otherwise. How it has been most effective though, in my case, is not just leaving these relationship out on the social web. The real mutual value has come from taking these relationships and discussions off line. I’ve met several people in person and done real business together.

    Its a personal choice. But that’s what works for me.

    What will be future casualties? Hopefully the two word emails; like “thank you” or “got it”. While the sentiment is recognized, with the volume of emails I receive, its really not necessary.

    Thank you!

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Hey Barry. I’m excited that we connected via Ted – and that’s the joy – the joy of connection with people Scott Gould calls ‘Like Minds’.

      But, it’s a story of pleasure and pain. Joy and frustration.

      Your point about taking these connections “off-line” is seminal. And therein lies my difficulty. Now that we can and do connect globally – digitally, the mechanics of physical face-to-face meetings present obvious limitations.

      It’s like a double bind. The Internet gives me the golden key to unlimited connectivity, but then puts large padlocks to the next room of ‘building thriving relationships’. There must be a name for this dilemma – or perhaps we need to coin one.

      So until tele-porting is a reality, we are faced with options like:

      a) only build relationships with people who are geographically accessible within a realistic time-frame;

      b) find better ways to use social technologies to enhance global relationships.

      PS: remind me not to e-mail you. πŸ˜‰

      Best to you, Robin πŸ™‚

  13. George Butler

    Has technology changed the way we communicate?

    Yes. And, in my view, for the better … mainly. A few points here:

    1) We can access information with a click. This never ceases to amaze me. Have a look at this video: http://bit.ly/uyrn – ‘The Machine is Us/ing us’- well worth watching if you have not already.

    2) We are now more connected. When thinking about change you have to think about what it was like before. It is easy to wear rose tinted spectacles and look back at a world full of “people like me”. Everyone was educated, smart, curious, literate, liberal, etc. weren’t they? … Well, no. Not really. As we are now more connected to everyone, we have a clearer record of the sheer diversity of human nature. With this comes the realisation that not everyone has a vocabulary as wide as the lead columnist in the Guardian. However, intelligent people do still exist, and will continue to do so… whether they drop their t’s or not – alrigh?

    3) Connection leads to participation: the world is becoming more literate (http://bit.ly/UHRMj). Literacy is a skill, not a gift. The more people participate the more they catch up.

    4) Participation leads to greater collective understanding, leading to wider, more inclusive cultural norms and conventions. Leading to homogenization – meaning we need to say less to communicate more (!), because everyone’s on the same page already (…Assumptions ‘R’ Us!).

    5) Self-control: Whereas before the Editor of the Observer used to select stories for me, I now select them through who I follow online. This is a double edged sword. Yes I get to read about things that interest me and select out stuff that’s irrelevant. But sometimes I don’t know what I like or what will interest me. And I may become blinkered (or perhaps I should say ‘more blinkered’).

    6) The notion of privacy is outdated: I expect others to share information. I get annoyed if they don’t. Ten years ago I would spend time thinking about how I would ask someone for their information, now I hardly acknowledge the barrier.

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Hi George, and thank you for your contribution of fresh thinking to this discussion. Your links are also greatly appreciated.

      So the web has us rethinking many things including commerce and the organization of data. It facilitates automated data exchange. We can find each other and connect. We can share information, pictures and videos.

      It’s at this point I feel the need to draw the distinction between ‘information dissemination’ i.e. the broadcast and/or exchange of data, and ‘communication’ i.e. shared meaning. Often the two get lumped together – even confused, but in terms of human-to-human interaction, are very different.

      In your opinion, what do you think needs to happen for the technology to embrace this difference and deliver tools/languages/HTML etc to enable us to communicate to the extraordinary level that we have already achieved with our information dissemination?

      George, I have really enjoyed your distinctions.

      Best, Robin πŸ™‚

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  15. Karen Morris

    Hi Robin,

    Thank you for opening up such a great discussion.

    It seems that there are several issues here with relation to connectivity, relationships and then language being harmed, or otherwise, by the ‘online revolution’

    I personally feel that the advent of online social connectivity, for the most part and in particular in a business sense, is a huge bonus. As several have mentioned, it offers connection to so many wonderful minds that otherwise would remain unknown to us.

    To address the issues with language. Well, I rather suspect that if you surveyed a group of 16 – 18 year olds 20 or 30 years ago, the same “yeahs”, “nos” and “buts” would appear, only to be replaced by a more fluid, confident and assertive use of language as they (we?) matured.

    I don’t feel that we will lose the talented writers because of technology. On the contrary more people will have access to them and therefore be inspired by them. After all, there was only one Shakespeare (well, Christopher Marlowe if you’re to believe the theories) and there were masses of the ‘great unwashed’. The language of your average commoner in the age of Shakespeare probably didn’t get much higher than “yeah”, “no” and “but”!

    I believe that we will always have those who will express themselves eloquently and those who are not great conversationalists. This is true, whether in an online or offline context.

    With so many different opportunities and avenues for expression (such as your wonderful blog) those who fall into the former category are not limited by technology at all. In fact, I would argue that technology gives them the means to share their thoughts far more widely than ever before and give them the opportunity to discuss and expand on them. No?

    I think, whether online or offline, you just need a catalyst for conversation (like this for instance ;-)) and people will connect, share and feel fulfilled by the relationships they develop.

    I do understand your feelings of frustration about developing relationships online that would be problematic to move into the “real world” as I always feel the need to cement the relationship with face-to-face meetings. And, as an extension to that thought, I think that online connection enhances real-life relationships by providing people with a point of reference well above what they would have if they met in real life first. Online connectivity can allow you to determine common points of interest and creates a desire to further develop the relationship. And, you can feel comfortable with each other’s company the first time you “meet”.

    I have just realised, though, that we first met IRL and then connected online. But I feel that the online connectivity via Twitter and the access to your blog enhances the relationship even further.

    Looking forward to connecting IRL again soon Robin.

    Karen

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Hi Karen, it’s wonderful to receive your contribution to this discussion. Thank you.

      Yes, we did meet ‘in real life’, and I felt an instant connection with you. Hmm, this discussion has almost come full circle. The on-line technology facilitated the off-line connection that led to the on-line relationship enhancement.

      I guess that’s one thing I’m really getting from all of this fine input – that there is no on-line OR off-line, but a deliberate integration of the two – on-line AND off-line. That’s perhaps where the savvy technology builders and programmers will lead us.

      The unforeseen consequences of this on-offline hybrid intrigue me. Take for example the NSCM tweet-up where we met.

      Like minds organised around Twitter decide to meet face-to-face. With commonalities well-briefed and well-primed by our on-line interactions, by the time the group meets, there is an amazing atmosphere and synergy that is contagious.

      It’s so infectious that the group is quickly expanding to a size unmanageable by any cafe. People are coming from far and wide, attracted like moths to the light of this hotbed of live connection, interaction and collaboration.

      So what happens next? Hire a hall, a conference centre, or even a stadium? Or do we put a limit on who can attend – ‘block’, ‘list’ or even ‘unfollow’ – to use the i-vernacular?

      Who gets to decide who goes and who stays, or what satellite groups form and on what basis?

      Hmm. Questions, questions, always questions. It’s the elephant that just walked into the chat room, that few are even noticing.

      Thanks, Karen.

      Best always, Robin πŸ™‚

  16. helen

    Great post Robin.

    How has technology changed the way I communicate? I communicate more with those who adopt the methods I am currently using (twitter/facebook/blog comments) and less with those who are not adapting to such technologies. I know this is costing me something but it seems the friends/business contacts who are not online very much are just not contactable and I have noticed particularly since Twitter has been a part of my life that my relationships with certain people using such technologies are becoming stronger whilst unfortunately those that require more offline effort are in some cases falling by the wayside. I’m not necessarily happy about this and need to consider what action is necessary on my part to rectify – I am just making comment.

    Casualties? Yes the paragraph, the sentence and it’s structure, the capital letter at the start of a sentence. I tend to write more and more as if I am thinking out loud and I know my English teacher would be horrified. Often I need to go back and edit my typing – removing the strange …. all through my paragraphs …. for me perhaps they represent pauses as I am thinking what next to say or write!

    A girlfriend and I were discussing tonight how difficult it is to organise a date for our book club to meet next. It’s frustrating for us because we would both expect technology would make it easier and faster to achieve such a social get together. Unfortunately we are all at different stages of technology adoption – only two of us are on Facebook even though that would be a great way to set ourselves up. Some don’t even check email in seven days! I have certain expectations that because the tehnology is there it will be used by everyone but as Iggy Pintado points out in Connection Generation not everyone is on the same page with regard to that issue!

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Hi Helen,

      You are someone who has spent a great deal of time helping people get more productive with technology, so it’s great to get your perspective.

      So, it’s almost a case of ‘get with the program’ or scram! If you want this relationship to grow, not only embrace the technology, but also keep up with it.

      Does this become an endless Escher staircase of technology adoption, just to stay relevant – just to stay connected?

      But it’s more than that. By opting out of the tech-chase, do we risk cocooning ourselves completely out of the social loop?

      It’s like there’s a social divide of ‘tech’ vs. ‘no/low/superseded model’ tech.

      Best to you, Helen.

      Robin πŸ™‚

  17. Carolyne Wildman

    Rob,
    Commenting on your comment on my comment:
    In your subtle fashion, (!) drawing attention to my penchant for using precise, albeit uncommonly used, words in my writing makes an excellent point about communicating online in the modern world.

    If I continue to indulge my personal preferences and choose to communicate with words which MAY not be immediately understood by the greater percentage of online readers, I am, in essence, committing the same degree of sin as one who butchers the humble sentence beyond clear comprehension. Both are equally ineffective methods of online communication. Both ignore the most pertinent point of communicating through an electronic vehicle: to get your message read & received, quickly & accurately.

    Once again, I am forced to adjust my thinking after the pinch (wake up!) and prod (get moving!) of your questions. I bow to your clear, concise & easily understood communication competencies; and I now vow to choose my words more wisely hereafter.

    Thank you!
    Your friend, Carolyne

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Hi Carolyne,

      Your continued contribution raises yet another key distinction in this conversation – the difference between writing for self-expression and writing for communication.

      Self expression in this context, being the need to satisfy one’s creative desires – to scratch the itch – just as the sculptor slumps back exhausted, but with a satisfied smile at having at last liberated the angel from the lump of granite.

      I remember creative writing at school. As much as I loved learning about the Auden, Slessor and Dylan Thomas Portraits, my ability to creatively express myself petered out at the limerick. Doodling was much more my thing.

      I have total respect for those who yield the pen like an artisan’s paintbrush. And I’m with Iggy in encouraging your lexical cornucopia. If I fail to understand you, all I need do is grab the desk-side dictionary – oops, I mean jump to my on-line dictionary. πŸ˜‰

      Very best to you, Robin πŸ™‚

  18. Iggy Pintado

    Robin

    Couldn’t resist one last comment. I’ve been receiving the comments from others as alerts on my iPhone – another great example of connection technology allowing me to stay tuned to your blog AND the comment conversation that this post has generated. It’s had me thinking about communication even mote and wanted to add the following:

    Communication has many facets to it including TRANSLATION, INTERPRETATION and EXPRESSION.

    Let’s start with translation – to get a message across, who cares what/where/how the language is used as long as the message is received or communicated. The best example here is the wonderful invention of subtitles. I love movies and this invention opened the door for me to understand many foreign language films resplendent with their rich culture and ideas through this medium. So text me in codes that I may not understand. Maybe we can have a LOL as I learn what you’re trying to say.

    Then there’s interpretation. Not everyone interprets the same message the same way. I’m amused by reverse translation in foreign films too. As someone who speaks Spanish, it’s hilarious to see how Spanish words are translated into English sometimes. The fundamental message still gets across but may be open to various interpretations.

    Finally, there’s expression. This discussion seems to limit communication to language 1.0/2.0/X.0. We all know that 70% of the most effective communication is unspoken. So choose our weapon, I say! Carolyne, please, please continue to use the rich and glorious words you use to express your thoughts. If it works for you – fantaastic – I prefer to relish in your expression and be educated through your vocabulary at the same time.

    Finally, offline or online? My book talks about the birth of inline – neither offline or online but IN-LINE with how to get your communication across. The winner of the book can read more on this! πŸ™‚

    Cheers, Iggy

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Hey Iggy,

      You’re enthusiasm is infectious and contribution is invaluable. The distinction of IN-LINE communication sounds excellent.

      So maybe it’s IN-LINE communication that navigates many of the themes that weave through this discussion:

      * the harmonizing of on-line and off-line communication;
      * the delivery of high tech/high touch outcomes;
      * the inevitability of a single, globalised language;
      * the preservation of creative expression;
      * the speed-enhancements necessary for accelerated ‘toot & wave’ exchanges;
      * the difference between information dissemination & communication;
      * the future possibility of radical, new communication vehicles like holographs.

      And as the IN-LINE phoenix ascends from the ashes of outmoded vehicles and ways, we notice the essence of humanity remains untouched. What shines out in pristine condition is our love of people, our hunger to connect, and our unbridled motivation to help each other succeed.

      Wow, Iggy. You’ve topped and tailed quite a story here. One that I hope will continue for all of us as we press forward on this exciting journey.

      Best, mate.

      Robin πŸ™‚

  19. Luke James

    To pick up on your point Robin, re. the confusion between exchange of data and communication; I endorse your view that they are inherently different. I’d like to take a paradigm shift in the way the discussion is going and use photography as an example.

    The rapid dissemination of a quickly taken cell-phone image compared to the considered photojournalism of, say, Life magazine over the decades is a stark example of the way we’ve become anaesthetised to interpretation. The ability to convey humanity, emotion and back story within an image isn’t something that I’m seeing as successful within the new technology i.e. its β€˜dumbed-down’. There’s still a need to β€˜slow down’ and think about what we are communicating as opposed to the endless dissemination of (almost) plagiarized thought and sentiment.

    Regarding the development of relationships online; we (isca) use multimedia in all its forms to fully connect with the people we’re working and engaging with. Audio/video follow-up of online connections is invaluable and, wherever possible, we make a point of a physical meeting as quickly as is feasible. These points are interesting mainly because there is nearly always a shift in perception and interpretation of online communication β€˜after’ a meeting, talk, video conference. Mainly because we begin to include nuance and understanding of meaning in any further online communication with that person afterwards. In short, we can begin to fill in the gaps.

    Very conscious I could ramble on and on regarding a subject that is core to everything we do.

    Great topic and fab contributions.

    Best wishes,

    Luke

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Thanks, Luke. It’s great to get a specific and practical example of the ‘IN-LINE’ communication. Sounds like it might be a great addition to Iggy’s next book! πŸ™‚

      How are professional photographers responding to this dumbing-down – “rapid dissemination of a quickly taken cell-phone images”? Are there technological solutions?

      One thing I’m very grateful for since connecting on-line is the access to the self-published work of wonderful photographers who I’d never even heard of, from all around the world.

      Does your approach to ‘filling in the gaps’ mean that you tend to develop business relationships with those people you CAN meet face-to-face?

      Great to connect, Luke.

      Best to you, Robin πŸ™‚

  20. Whitney Johnson

    Earlier this week, a woman building a virtual community through her website had a contest that she wanted to get the word out on. I encouraged her to twitter. Her response was to me, “I’m just not sure how to do this.” I’ve read books and postings, but still can’t quite puzzle this out.

    So– in response to does technology change the way we communicate, the answer is a definitive ‘yes’ because I wouldn’t have had this conversation (1) year ago.

    ***

    Here’s what I said (I’ve decided to leave the specific handles, because why not give the props where they are due).

    “One of the reasons it’s difficult to twitter is that you don’t know if anyone is listening — and they may not be. On the other hand, when I pretend like I’m in the middle of a grand conversation, then I can just jump in and talk.

    For you, I would try to find mommy bloggers and engage with them… and then something that lots of people don’t do very well, but I think is important is to talk to other people, retweet what they say if you like it.. etc.

    For example @micheledortch and @kidlutions are two that I like.

    You may want to ask @startupprincess to retweet about your photography contest given her large following….

    And then to get yourself started just go on 1x a day, find a twitter that you like — and retweet or comment. @chrysula does this brilliantly.”

    Social Media — It’s an amazing cocktail party from the comfort of your own home.

    Robin — let it be said, that I suspect you are a master mixer. Congratulations!

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Thanks, Whitney, that’s an excellent ‘live’ example to flesh-out this discussion.

      I agree with your perspective. It not only changes they way we communicate, but brings with it its own ever-increasing lexicon – tweeting, twitter-handle, unfollowing, unfriending, texting etc.

      Online dictionaries struggle to keep up with this technology-driven word surge.

      I love your word picture of “Social Media β€” It’s an amazing cocktail party from the comfort of your own home.” Now that would make a great illustration. πŸ™‚

      Best to you, Robin πŸ™‚

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  22. heidi allen

    Dear paragraph

    I am sorry to see you go

    but you see i skim over you when i read online

    you’re too much work to get the information i need

    i
    prefer
    bullet
    points

    for ease

    but not when I’m tucked up in bed with a novel
    then you become my friend again

    RIP

    1. Post
      Author
      Robin Dickinson

      Heidi,

      I too am deeply saddened at the passing of such a literary giant. It’s only out of respect for this fallen hero that I struggle to push out these ‘memorial’ paragraphs in this post.

      But, it’s so hard.

      Dot points are so much easier.

      I think all novels should come in dot-point versions.

      Now, there’s an idea!

      Thanks for adding your cheeky twist to this conversation.

      Best to you, Robin πŸ™‚

  23. Luke James

    Hey Robin, thanks for the discussion.

    Re. your questions on my earlier comment: ‘How are professional photographers responding to this dumbing-down?’ – This is something that was originally a problem when digital started to become mainstream. I feel it’s the artistic skills now that need to be developed as the current technology is already outstanding.

    You’re absolutely right regarding the amazing works of international photographers who can now self-publish. This is so on-topic for us right now insomuch we’re writing about this very example for a series on artistic genres and entrepreneurs. The way that technology, particularly the internet, has demystified so many areas and created vehicles for wonderful artists, writers, photographers etc.

    As to your last question – ‘Does your approach to β€˜filling in the gaps’ mean that you tend to develop business relationships with those people you CAN meet face-to-face?’ – That would be a resounding no!

    We do believe multiple platforms of communication are essential in building relationships. Skype, for example, is an efficient, cost-effective way of extending the Twitter connection and we use it regularly. The very fact that we are an international collective means that we need to communicate effectively on so many different levels. No, one, system is good enough on its own, but neither is any one combination absolute.

    Hope this helps to answer your questions.

    Best wishes, Luke

    1. Post
      Author
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  25. Annabel Candy

    As new ways of communicating are opening up – like sharing what you’re doing with 4,000,000 people around the world via Twitter (if you’re Oprah), so other means of communication are shutting down – like paying attention to people you’re with, looking at them and listening without being distracted and interrupted by the ever-beeping cell phone on the table.

    1. Post
      Author
  26. lee

    The new technology has an enormous importance to our lives. With the newly esteem of telecommunication seems to take part solving so many unsolved problems that was pending to be solved. Although this was human error that has evolved in later century but it more advanced that life was looking for.

    1. Post
      Author
  27. Lindy Asimus

    I don’t use a phone for anything other than I have always used it. I am keen on Twitter. What has changed? Not much. I now have a lot more pals to keep me company at different hours of the day in a new context. Otherwise it is much the same as ever.

    The email group has now just split into different venues.

    New dogs, same old fleas.

    Lindy

    1. Post
      Author
  28. Roger Lawrence

    My kids love the story of when I was (7) at Boarding School, and wrote a weekly letter to my parents. A stamp cost 4c. I don’t think my kids have ever bought one. The letter would take 4 days to get from Pietersburg to Johannesburg. I might get a reply once a fortnight.

    They cannot comprehend a world where you’d have to wait for a response to a letter. The story gets mixed up in the “olden days” memory. That part confused with Caesar, Shakespeare, and Queen Victoria.

    But let’s not be misled. Literacy is a comparably recent mass technology. Only since the printing press have anyone other than the aristocracy and the clergy been able to read and write.

    There are as many people from my generation whom don’t know how to communicate effectively in a business (or social) context, as there are from the current generation. That’s exactly what Channel42 is all about – helping professionals tell their story. Whether the story is to influence a sale, educate a student, inform a client. Whether it’s appropriate to facilitate this face to face, with a document, via social media, or with online video.

    Has technology changed the way we communicate? Yes, there’s been this terrible 400 year period where we moved away from showing by demonstration and story, to telling by print and words. I welcome the era of ubiquitous online video – this will do as much for changing the world as the printing press ever could.

    (Disclaimer: I’m still an avid lover of the printed word, and rabid reader)

  29. Justin Peters

    We still do indeed meet with others face to face, but compared to what we should be doing, we don’t. The sense of a friendship and relationship has changed so much over the years because of texting, facebook, phone calls, etc. We choose to talk to people through the easiest way, texting/facebook, but do you actually feel what they are trying to say to you? When you are in a deep, emotional conversation through texting, you don’t know how that person really feels because you are not there witnessing it through our eyes.

    Q1: In your opinion, has technology (e.g. mobile phone, Internet) changed the way we communicate with each other? Yes it has, for the worse if you ask me.

    Q2: How has technology changed the way you communicate?
    We don’t really “talk” to people now, we take the short route and text or facebook someone. We do not know actually how that person feels through words. We need to see the persons face to really understand how they are feeling.

    Q3: What changes do you envisage to the way we communicate with each other in future? There will be no more face to face conversations anymore, just Facebook, texting, Skype, and many more forms of communication where we don’t have to see someone. Most jobs will be online, you never will get the sense of having a friend at work, just another person on the internet you met.

    Q4: What are or will be the other communication casualties of technology? Losing the sense of a relationship or a friend. The word friend is widely used now. Most people think “friend” means on facebook, but that is not what it is used for. We are not really gaining a friend if we do not know the person.

    1. Roger

      Hey Justin,

      What a sad, melancholy, gloomy, and dare I say, cynical response. It strikes me that you’ve been hurt, or at least negatively impacted by a separation facilitated by technology.

      My experience is different. But my approach is different too. Robin does a good job of posing controversial questions as a binary, black/white. But of course it’s not that.

      When my kids were younger, my work necessitated international travel. Yet because of Mobile Phones & Skype, I never had to miss a bedtime story. Was it as good as being there to smell their hair and hug them? Of course not. Was it as bad as only seeing them once a fortnight though? No way.

      Y’see the technology shouldn’t replace other (more intimate) forms of communication. It complements them. But the choice as to whether you allow the (increasingly) overwhelming technologies to create that separation, or you work hard at building friendships and using the technologies to build depth & breadth, is yours.

      As with physical exercise, diet, meditation, giving, and any of the other disciplines for a successful life, communication takes commitment, time, and effort. They’re disciplines.

      The fault of Gen-Y’s inability to concentrate (which is hogwash according to all studies), or communicate more than superficially, lies entirely with their Gen-X/Baby Boomer parents and teachers.

      Recently we visited friends & family of mine in South Africa for a month (http://africa.rog42.net) I’ve known the friends since I was a teen, well over 25 years. Currently we only get to maintain our friendship on Facebook and Skype. Are they true friends, in the deepest sense of the word? Of course. Our conversation, care, and love for each other, if anything has grown over time. But it’s Facebook and Skype, and texting, and email, and blogs, and in the past faxes and letters, that have filled in the details.

      As technology becomes richer, we’ll get back to that face to face contact, despite our location.

      If you live next to the ocean, do you ban your kids from going to the beach? Or do you teach them to swim? And how can you teach them to swim, if you yourself don’t know how? Don’t understand waves, rip currents, tides etc? Our kids are awash in the sea of ubiquitous communications technology, it’s our responsibility as parents, teachers, and adults to be masters in that, and teach them how to swim.

      πŸ™‚ Just for context, I have 4 daughters, 2 in uni, 2 in High School. They all play 2 musical instruments each, can water-ski, scuba dive, and have very active (F2F) social lives. They also are all on Facebook and have their own laptops and mobile phones.

  30. Keishla Lopez

    this is an essay i did for college about how we communicate!

    Social Networking
    There are many ways to communicate with others and to keep in touch with our loved ones. The advancement of technology has changed the way people communicate nowadays. Young people use Social Networking as a way to communicate with their family and meet new people around the world. Social networking can be advantageous in many ways, but it can also be detrimental for those who do not know who to use it correctly.
    Up until a few years ago people used to rely on phone lines and mail to stay in contact with others. Now they can make it easier and efficient to communicate by using the social networking and smartphones. Social networking is the use of websites or other online technologies to communicate with people and share information and resources. Social Media has profoundly changed the way we communicate and interact with others. Youth embrace the idea of social networking because not only does it allow people to communicate with those whom they already know, but it opens the door to a vast variety of different people. New relationships are formed through the sharing of interests in a social network. The act of networking socially is the thing that continues to be on the rise.
    One example of a social network is Facebook. Facebook is a free website that allows people to associate with others, send instant messages, stay in touch, share photos, and share updates of their personal profile. Facebook allows users to one simple control for all sharing. With a couple clicks, users can choose how they want to change their privacy settings. People who have their account on Facebook are using more of their time to get in touch with other individuals in spite of the distance and lack of time. The increase of communication and connection between friends and online activities can also increase the risk of procrastination and makes it easier for others to stalk a user. Facebook can be very addictive for its members. Some people know the drawbacks of Facebook, but cannot help staying connected with old friends who they haven’t seen in years. With all the benefits and drawbacks of Facebook, this social networking service is still in demand and growing in popularity among today’s youth.
    The smartphone is another way people stay in touch, communicate in different ways, and explore social networking. Some people describe a smartphone as a cell phone and personal computer. Smartphones offer internet services, which allow owners to send emails, play games, chat, face talk, and watch videos on YouTube. A Smartphones gives people the ability to access the Internet from anywhere to keep in touch through social networks. On the other hand, despite of being very helpful and full of advantages, smartphones also have some disadvantages; these phones are costly and they can be complicated. The way people use smartphones interferes with our social life and it changes the way we communicate with others. Also Smartphones are complicated because some of them require programs that are difficult to learn, and there may be a need to download new programs in order to have a better performance.
    Finally, emails can be used as a way to send letters, photos, attachments, and greeting cards to others. Email is convenient, easy, affordable, and reaches the intended party within a few seconds, and sometimes instantaneously. There are many free email services people use today such as: Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail. On the contrary, sending emails reduces the environmental impact by cutting back on paper usage, rather than printing high volumes of documents. Some of the disadvantages of sending an email can give the user’s computer a virus from receiving attachments, the email may be send to the wrong person, or emails can be lost. Email can become time consuming for answering complicated questions, and misunderstandings can be a problem because of cultural differences in the interpretation of certain words.
    As you can see, there are many ways people can stay in touch by using the networking or using smartphones. For many people social networking is a great way to stay in touch with family and friends that are far away. The new technology has enabled people to socialize in many ways such as Facebook, emails, and the telephone; this decreases the need for face to face contact. These new tools not only affect the way we connect to each other as people, but also how we share information and communicate. Whether or not these changes are positive or negative, there is still a need to interact with our loved ones in face-to-face situations. Humans are changing and evolving and using technology to ease their lives. However, glowing screens and keypads cannot replace the real interaction humans need.

  31. Helen

    Hello there,

    I have just stumbled upon this blog and have found these posts very interesting. It would have been nice to know the ages of the people who have been posting, as each generation has had to integrate certain technologies with different expectations and means to adapt, for example, younger generations will have been born more immersed with social networking than those who were teenagers in the 90’s (chat rooms and more asynchronous forms of communication) etc.

    Secondly, I wonder how influential are social networking sites and synchronous methods of communication (instant messaging) in terms of adapting younger generation to practice communication in the offline world?

    Comments on the above would be greatly appreciated as I have just started a PhD which is related to this subject.

    Helen

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  33. Raj

    I do agree that modern technology, man may eventually forget how to communicate appropriately. It’s sad but we need to progress with life.

  34. Pingback: Technology and Communication in Today’s Society « The Digital Debate

  35. mol

    People are becoming addicted to social networking sites, mostly facebook. facebook has more than 9 million active users. If it was a country then it would be the third largest in the world! With over 150 members the United States has the most users. People are spending more and more time on facebook and some teens are spending up to seven hours a day on facebook. Facebook has an average of 562 million daily users. More and more teenagers are becoming addicted to facebook which is having an effect on their lives. Now more teenagers communicate over social network websites than face to face!

  36. Pingback: How do modern media tools change the way we communicate? | Humanist Association of Toronto

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