A View from the CLOUD – Has Communication Really Changed? (Part 2)

There was a wonderful show in the late 1960s and early 1970s called Laugh-In. As a young child at the time, it was my first memory of watching television with my mom and dad. I can’t remember if it was shown on the same night as the Muppet Show, but they both seem to go together in my memories. They were both quick and witty, and they made me laugh, even at the jokes only my mom and dad seemed to get.

Laugh-In featured many guests in addition to its hosts Dick Martin and Dan Rowan. One of those guests was Lily Tomlin who played Ernestine the Telephone Operator. She was famous for the line, “one ringy dingy.”

That line kept popping up in my mind as I prepared to write a follow-on blog post to A View from the CLOUD: Has Communication Really Changed (Part 1)  The Laugh-in video of Ernestine the Telephone Operator is worth a quick watch now, both for a good laugh and to frame the rest of this blog post. In addition to laying the foundation for a piece on communication, it quite surprisingly also raised issues of privacy and security… Lily calls it omnipotent (that’s potent with an omni in front). I’ll tackle those in a separate post…

Although Ernestine the Telephone Operator’s switchboard may look a little archaic in today’s world of iPhones, have we really come all that far? In some ways, the switchboard that was hidden from sight at the phone company has made its way to us. Our “personal switchboard” now requires us to manage a home phone number, a work phone number, a fax number, email address(es). Twitter handles, Google+ accounts, LinkedIn profiles. Facebook pages… Instagram… Pinterest… If you are anything like me, all of this is starting to get exhausting. With all of the advancements in communication, have we really changed anything or just made it more complicated?

Since my original post on communication vectors, I’ve come to realize that the complexity of how we get messages to each other gets even more complicated in the world of social media, community websites and content websites. It is one thing to have keep track of a variety of email addresses, phone numbers and other accounts in your electronic contact book, but it spirals out of control when rather than messages, we wish to engage in conversations and communities. One of the communities with which I enjoy interacting is the HITsm (Health IT social media) group. In addition to our tweetchats on Friday, there is a LinkedIn group, a reddit dialogue, an excellent website, as well as the numerous posts that each of our contributors make at their own websites and others. A few of these are displayed above.

Not only do each of these ‘interaction environments’ require me to have another log-in and password, but in many cases, I have to replicate the same network of respected friends and colleagues at each web silo, so I can communicate with this same group via all of these different platforms. At the end of the day, I don’t really care where Jennifer Dennard, for example, adds a discussion, be it a LinkedIn group or via a post at her blog at Healthcare IT News. What I care about is that Jennifer made the post. She is my context for either content or community. She is the one I trust and by centering around people, rather than websites, the whole notion of content and community can change. I write more on this notion of networked content, networked communities and empowered people at my personal blog, The End of Linearity.

Stay tuned… more from Ernestine, Siri and the world of communication in an era of ME 1.0…