With us humans most habits don’t change, despite the hype as each generation credits itself as being cleverer and better off than those in the past.
Kids are brighter – hey, my six-year-old grandson can search the internet! So what? When I was that age I could point out the latest jet liner in the family encyclopaedia collection. Didn’t amount to anything (although I did become an aviation writer at one point in my writing career).
We are living longer. No mate, we are just dying slower as modern medicines prolong the inevitable, and ‘longevity’ doesn’t guarantee ‘quality of life’ in one’s dotage. It’s the same illusory obsession with road deaths in this day of safer cars and better first aid – it doesn’t count those wretches permanently maimed through dangerous driving and dangerous road accidents.
The worse crap comes out of the workplace and the development of technology. Through the power of global communication, we can work anywhere, apparently. This is just nonsense. The business class cabins of the world’s airlines are still full of frequent travellers attending face-to-face meetings; the conference industry continues to grow; office space just keeps multiplying with demand; and a ‘herd instinct’ urges us to go to work at the same time and go home at the same time – it’s called peak hour.
Why? Human beings are human beings and they work best face-to-face.
The availability of online information has never been greater. True, but a shame most of it is crap. Unless you think “10 celebrities who died young” is news?
There’s is a fundamental principle about communication and publishing that applies whether you are chiselling your message into a cave wall or tweeting to your army of admirers – content is king. The publishing medium is not as important as the content of the message.
And this is where so many champions of communication in today’s prolonged blitz of social media and sound bites get the wrong end of the stick – becoming infatuated with the publishing medium and not the message. You often read newspaper articles that name-drop social media sources – especially Facebook and Twitter – as a source of news promoting their competition and their own nemesis. And you don’t need journalistic qualifications to be a celebrated ‘blogger’, just loud opinion – your own.
And what’s with our fascination with mini technology and ‘how much’ you can achieve on a piddly cell phone screen. Even watch a movie! Wow!
Meanwhile, the big screen cinema venues are full; computer screens just get bigger; and one buys the biggest TV screen one can afford. That’s called being human – the bigger the vista the better. That’s why we pay more for views.
Working in an age of electronic gadgetry and gimmickry begs the question – how much productivity have we lost communicating with emails and txts instead of cutting to the chase with direct communication?
And let me iterate the order of effective communication: face to face; voice to voice; word to word; and (when it all turns to shit) lawyer to lawyer.
The point I want to make – we are human (or naked apes, to revive an anthropological expression from the 1960s). We evolved as social animals and tribes, and are most happy sharing the immediate company of others; and we are far more productive in the company of others.
So make sure you turn up at the AQA/IoQ conference in Hamilton this year and network face to face.
See you there.
Alan Titchall, Editor