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Life Mirroring Parody – or the other way around

The article in Monday’s New York Times about people no longer having the patience to listen to their voice mail was eerily similar to the “article” in the Onion a few days earlier about everything taking too long.

So much to do, so little time.

Even with “executive summaries” at the beginning of reports, colleagues are unsure whether their analyses are read. And now, with the social media, the overload increases. I touched on this in a post on blogging alone as did Allen Sheaprd in his post about people not commenting on blogs.

Right now many of us are still leaving our messages and hoping that people have the time to sort through them. This, however, is where aggregation on the front end really helps, linking like with like an identifying common themes. It’s what makes Google News my primary online news source and makes Legistalker appealing.

I wonder whether some front end consolidation and aggregation within Govloop would help us get more from the wealth of knowledge here more quickly. Because, with so little time and so much to do, everything does seem to take too long.

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Profile Photo Adriel Hampton

Everything important will always take time and prioritization. This is why I know a lot more about Gov 2.0 than Lost. There is plenty of time. What people choose to do with it is the question.

Profile Photo Allen Sheaprd

Andre,

With all these labor saving devices – why are we working so hard? Why has the one income family disappeared and more families have three incomes where the guy works a full and part time job?

You are right – people want speed. Why does popcorn take 3 min in microwave? That’s too long! 1min30 is long enough. Fast food, – that takes forever at 10 min.

Andre even if there is a front end to harvest the best of GovLoop people have to make comments. To say “I agree” or “No that is not how I heard it” or better yet “I just heard….”

Adriel,

I believe you are right because people find the time or make time for what they want and put other things to the side. However what people are finding important scares me. I really hope blogs and Web 2.0 brings out the best in people.

The Greeks where great thinkers. They shared ideas and information and things flourished. Ditto for the renaissance. I hope that with crowsourcing, wiki’s and blogs we can get back to thinking and flourishing.

Here I believe the blogger just gets the party started. It is all the comments that help make blog better and a good blog great! Comments extend the conversation beyond what was originally said.

May we never be too busy to talk to each other and share. We all have something to offer. To sit by the laptop for a while over the weekend. Look. Listen and add our thoughts – your thoughts.

Have a great weekend!

Profile Photo Eva Schweber

Andre-I completely agree with you. I also agree with Adriel, but only in part. I agree that important information warrants time and attention. But, I want to spend that time reading content, not going to a dozen different websites. The more the information is aggregated, the more time I can devote to reading content.

Profile Photo Andre Goodfriend

One thing I noticed when I was working on conflict prevention a decade or so ago was the keen interest in developing early warning systems that would generate a rapid and effective response. This early warning/early response approach continues in a range of fields, from pandemic prevention to natural disaster monitoring to famine mitigation. The thinking is that if systems were in place that could get the information to the right place at the right time, disaster could be averted. The problem here, as with many system developed by those who focus on information creation rather than its use, is that there is an underlying assumption that if you can simply post information it will generate or even compel an appropriate response. But that’s generally not the case. Information is ignored unless it is available in a form that the decision maker finds useful, i.e. one that takes the receiver into account more than the sender.

But perhaps social networking is still be at the leisurely playground stage where there is a sense that like the baseball field in “Field of Dreams” if you build it they will come. Certainly at the outset, they do come, because it’s free and easy to get to (if systems security doesn’t bar social networking sites). And there may be plenty of time if this is seen as a pleasant pass time rather than something that adds value to one’s work. But will they come if this is no longer seen as useful?

And this is where the question that Adriel poses about what people chose to do with the content they read and the relationships they build on this site gets turned on its head. What people chose to do is not the question that should be left unanswered, it’s the question the answer to which should serve to guide the direction of social networking. How do we use social networking sites? And if the answer is simply as a pleasant escape from work, then resistance to them will grow as the “evaluation period” wears off.

On the other hand, I think that there can be tremendous utility in these types of sites. As I’d noted in a forum posting (which I thought would identify it as seeking to elicit more discussion than a blog post), social networking helps build social capital which minimizes obstacles to persuasion and collaboration and enables us to mobilize people more effectively towards common goals.

Allen has highlighted the importance of comments and finding ways to encourage interaction between members. These are elements of community building and developing social capital. Aggregation and consolidation to some extent facilitate this process as well. At the moment, different people may write about similar things in different areas of Govloop without even realizing that there are essentially five separate disjointed monologues taking place, rather than a synergistic conversation.

A few years ago I was part of a group that looking at search engine technologies. The Autonomy search engine attracted me at the time because it claimed to have the ability to analyze the text one was reading and bring to the reader’s attention other similar materials without having to search for them — essentially aggregation on the fly. Looking at their web site now I see that they, using somewhat more opaque language, are saying something similar to the point I’m trying to make, echoed by Eva Schweber:

“enterprises that have opted for so-called “socialware” have found that the enthusiasm for information creation it engenders, as well as its ability to connect disparate members of the enterprise community, can yield genuine results. However, it would be imprudent to believe that the imperfections tolerated by consumers are acceptable in the enterprise.”

There is tremendous potential for social networking sites, but the answers to the question of what we’re doing with these sites (answers welcome here) needs to help guide their development — particularly of sites that put out there as an alternative to the pure leisure pass time.