Lee Bryant of Headshift has some interesting thoughts about how the Twentieth Century was wrong.
Some people see new social technology and networked culture as dangerous and ‘new’, and they fall back on their experience of technology and organizational culture in the late Twentieth Century as the ‘established’ model. Yet, in fact the reverse is true. The Twentieth century took the ideas of the industrial revolution and applied them to people. Mass production. Mass marketing. Mass slaughter.
If you look at a longer timeframe, you will see that our new era of social technology and social business is in fact more traditional, and continues very old, resilient models of network-based trade, business and socialization. The difference is, we now have the technology and infrastructure (and arguably the globalised world) that enables us to scale up these old ways of working to support our modern life.
I agree with Bryant on many levels and as a professional educator I know that much of today’s public education is built on the framework of the industrial revolution. The goal was to train students to sit in rows, follow a leader’s instructions, do rote memory tasks and all have same outcomes.
Interesting enough, so many of today’s conferences, events and meetings still use the command and control, hierarchy approach grounded in the industrial revolution as well. People enter large ballrooms, sit in rows and passively listen to one presenter as if everyone will leave the room with the same outcomes. Adult white space, as I call it, is rarely used allowing attendees to digest information, bounce ideas off other attendees, view those ideas from different perspectives and consider a variety of ways to apply it. It is as if attendees are to leave the ballroom and create the same intellectual widget in the same way as everyone else. Often conference organizer’s consider group think, collaboration, peer-to-peer sharing as out of step with mass production and against the grain. Attendees talking and sharing with others is seen as out of control instead of controlled chaos and engagement.
Bryant believes that network-based organizations and collaboration are actually old resilient traditional models from socialization and history. Here is his PPT presentation that he delivered to the Lift Conference 2009 that discusses how the Twentieth Century got it wrong.
As you view this presentation, consider
- How can we change our education efforts within meetings and events to embrace a network-based collaborative conference.
- How we can change the focus of conferences from one presenter to many with passive audience members to many presenters to many with engaged attendees.
I don’t have all the answers yet, and the more I consider this issue, the more questions I have.
So what are your thoughts?