What Does Communication Mean in 2010?

On April 20th, a group of fellow EduTweeters and I will be presenting at the #140 Character Conference in NYC, organized by Jeff Pulver.  A very interesting and informative Posterious blog post came through my Google Alerts for my name earlier this week describing the conference. The blogger, Alan Weinkrantz, had this to say:
Jeff Pulver believes that we are experiencing the first stages of a major communication revolution. What many people today refer to as "Social Media" he believes is really a primitive for a new way we will communicate in the future. In fact, the systemic effects of the advent of social media will be felt for a long time after the term "social media" is no longer trendy.
What a powerful statement.

I couldn't help but think that this is a Truth that we need to keep in mind. We are in the midst of a 'major communication revolution.'

This morning I attended a Classroom 2.0 Elluminate session with Jeff O'Hara, the founder of Edmodo, an online tool that allows for real-time interaction between teachers and their students as well as asynchronous communication in the form of assignments and media posting (videos, links, etc...)  This 'communication revolution' is real.

I've also been listening to the audiobook of Malcom Gladwell's, The Tipping Point. I saw his keynote address at ISTE's NECC 2009 in Washington, DC and was intrigued by some of his points and always meant to pick up the book. So far, it has gotten me thinking about this communication revolution in relation to his discussion of how information is disseminated through a population.

First, he discusses Connectors, people whose social ties cross many different social groups and interests. We are connected, as he explains through describing scientific studies and experiments, by only a few, highly connected people. He analyzes his own circle of friends and deduces that it is not a circle, but a pyramid, with his most connected friend, Jacob, tying everyone else to each other.

This made me examine my own social networks and how they are connected. Can I trace my network down to one or two people who hold us together? In the world of Twitter, this kind of connectivity is vital and plays out on a grander scale.  There are still, certainly, people who are intertwined among many networks and do so easily because of the tools available for facilitating connections.

He also talks about Information Specialists, or Mavens, people who are 'pathologically helpful' when it comes to sharing information.  While the example he gives refers to supermarkets and people who keep track of prices and therefore keep supermarkets in check, we live in an 'Information Age.'  I am always amazed how quickly people are willing to seek out information for me on Twitter. Often, complete strangers! There are also those people, it seems, whose sole purpose is to provide as much information to people as possible without expecting anything in return. Just like Connectors, these people have a much farther reach due to the social networking tools available to them.

With all of these musings, it seems to me that we are becoming more and more connected in fewer and fewer steps. There seems to be a large number of Connectors and Mavens able to spread information to wider and wider groups of people.

Are we at the Tipping Point of communication  as we know it?

Gladwell photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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