I was just going to do a small bit of restructuring today but when I thought about it, I realized I had to shut down everything to do a complete restructuring of the entire site to rebuild its foundation for the new direction I’d like to go with. What direction is that? Well, that is the problem. I have all the building blocks of this new foundation but I just can’t seem to figure out how best to lay them together to form this foundation. Here’s what I’m talking about.
The Web is the Culture of the World – The Cluetrain gang have already implied this within the Cluetrain Manifesto and David Weinberger has already went into more depth in his book Small Pieces Loosely Joined. The Web is what we care about and what we believe to be important. It is our culture that we are defining on a daily basis. Most importantly of all, its culture is defining us back in return.
A Business with a Web Culture – So if the Web as a culture is defining us, how is it doing it? I starting thinking about what would happen if a business took on the same cultural values as the Web. Interestingly enough, I think there are already companies and organizations out there who are already thinking this way (i.e. small startups and open source organizations are perfect examples of this).
Feeling Connected – While technology can definitely connect us electronically, I kept feeling like something was missing. Every time I got offline and went outside in nature I felt more connected to the entire world than when I was online with millions of people. Why? I realized it was because I didn’t "feel" connected. Feelings relate to our emotions. People always say that the Web is about conversations about what people care about. True but go deeper than that. Yes, people are having conversations and telling stories online about what they care about but it is the emotions that they feel when those stories are told that makes them feel connected. If you tell me you went to the corner store to get some milk today, I could care less. If you told me you lost your dog, narrowly avoided a fatal accident, or can’t take your job anymore than I’m going to connect with you more. That’s because one story is factual (i.e. getting milk) while the others are more emotional. This is why I feel so empty on the Web today because there is a lot of factual information on it but very little emotional information (although the recent Hurricane Katrina disaster changed that quickly).
Cultivating Technology – Therefore, if our emotions make us feel connected to the world then we need to instill that emotion into our technology so that it will in turn not just connect us but make us "feel" connected. How do you go about this though? Do you have to plug wires into your nervous system? No, I don’t think so. I think all we need to do is look at the culture aspects of what makes the Web work and then ensure that same culture is instilled in the technology we create (i.e. connected, open, sharing, reliable, etc) just as I believe that culture should be instilled in our organizations and businesses.
Using Technology To Help The World – With the horrors of the Hurricane Katrina disaster still not over, I kept feeling more than anything frustrated and helpless because I was finding that our current technology, which everyone raves about as being so great, was and still is actually quite pathetic and useless during this crisis. Yes, certain blogs were spreading the word of what was going on down there and others were raising awareness to get donations going but that didn’t help the people in immediate need down there. Tons of people were posting information such as "needing to find a person" to "needing help to get picked up from my home in New Orleans". And yet the information was spread out everywhere and there was no way to easily aggregate it all for easy viewing. In other words, we had all this amazing technology yet people still had to manually gather the information to make is usable and useful. It’s crazy and we need to find a better way. Thankfully Jeff Jarvis has spearheaded a new project called Recovery 2.0 which matches my own thoughts and will hopefully bring more awareness to this issue and get people working together so that the next time this happens the technology (i.e. Web 2.0) will be there for us to use.
Small Pieces Loosely Joined – Finally I kept coming back again and again to David Weinberger’s book title. To me those four words have so much meaning to them, it is really quite amazing, as they can be applied to so many things in our world today. For example, nature is a perfect example of small pieces loosely joined. No one system controls everything, yet all of them are equally important. Instead it is a collaboration of separate systems that all work together to create something amazing. I have this very strange feeling that small pieces loosely joined is also a perfect example of how the world can collaborate together and even more so how businesses, organizations, and even countries should be run, as many of them are getting too big and getting disconnected from what is happening on a local level. Smaller is better because it allows us to work more effectively on larger projects or goals.
Anyways, those are the building blocks of what I would like to do. As I said, I now have to figure out how they go together, so I’m looking for a single thread that somehow interconnects them all.