Sunday, October 4, 2015

Taking a Stance

From my Inaugural Lecture, 15 September 2015.

Title: 'Connectivity isn't everything (but it's almost everything)'

Taking a Stance

They say there are two ways to engage an audience: a story or a stance.  You’ve heard my story, now here is my stance. 

There are 3 things I believe are important going forward.

First stance – New Zealand business is still isolated: When I started thinking about New Zealand’s distance from the world, I wanted to help our organisations be better connected to everyone else in the world.  In fact, I still believe we should aim to better connected than we are.  We need to not just be good consumers of the latest and greatest (and expensive) technologies, but we also need to be using those technologies to enable and support new and better.

Why not extend our ‘lifestyle’ values to truly flexible new work practices that are completely possible, but largely resisted by our public and private organisations.  Why pretend that we have a ‘good lifestyle’ while we sit in traffic and pollute the planet (which of course goes against our other essential New Zealand value of a ‘clean green’ environment).

Beyond our shores, cultural connections beat technical connections every time and we need more and better social connections in a world where physical distance still matters. 

Second stance:  If content is King, then context is Queen.  When something is digitized, it is never exactly the same as the original.  When this talk goes onto my blog or a video stream, it will not be the same as being in this room, right now.

We must not forget the importance of authentic, in situ life.  We must remain as ‘real’ as possible in a world that allows and encourages infinite artificial curation. Social media sites have become known for producing (and reproducing) the ‘curated self.’  And, artistic creativity is being reduced by the hegemony of the global few popular people and things.  As individuals, we must still aspire to do things, not because they are popular, but because they are the ‘right’ thing to do.

Stance 3: Let’s not become disembodied cyborgs.  My experience growing up on a farm and leading people in wilderness environments has taught me the value of keeping our minds and bodies connected.

Sociologists talk about ‘deterritorialisation,’ which means that mediated and virtual environments lift us out of our local place.  The danger of losing touch with place and our physical selves is not new, but it is one that is increasing rapidly as more and more of our world goes on-line.  As I said in the beginning of my talk, knowing deeply where you come from is still important.  Stay grounded. Clouds are for data, not people.

No comments: