system two

system two
start-up thinking in the enterprise

Friday, 4 July 2008

what we mean by a global village

On from yesterdays post...

One of the most thought provoking pieces of writing on the web is by the late, great Douglas Adams. Read the whole piece here

The 2nd to last paragraph I love..

"We are natural villagers. For most of mankind's history we have lived in very small communities in which we knew everybody and everybody knew us. But gradually there grew to be far too many of us, and our communities became too large and disparate for us to be able to feel a part of them, and our technologies were unequal to the task of drawing us together. But that is changing."

More quickly than anyone really imagined, humankind is rediscovering, via technology, the ability to reconnect with itself. It is this phenomenon that is at the heart of the connected world.

To put the concept in context.....Within your village 250 years ago you would have known the business of most people. You'd have known who was sleeping with who, who brewed the best beer, which baker added sawdust to their bread and who slacked off at harvest time.

What digital technology has done is recreate this world, or at least, recreate the mechanics of it. To amplify human bonds, to make us feel, at least partially, more connected to everyone else, the world around us and ourselves.

For 250 years, as we've burned hydrocarbons and industrialized, the importance of these connections was downplayed, even considered "dated". Instead we learned to rely on 3rd parties - to trust businesses we had no personal connection with, to informed us as to the best products and services. We no longer knew who brewed the best beer. Advertising was born. We got to the stage where our sense of self became so caught up in these messages, many of us lost our identities. We became, in Marxist language, "alienated".

As people thinking about how to engage other people in the digital world, this concept, that we are "natural villagers" should be at the heart of our thinking. Only by recreating and harnessing the inbuilt desire to connect can we be effective - and more importantly, can be build brands who can usefully serve us again.

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