Thursday, May 22, 2008

Getting on the Same Page

Communicating -- 2008 style. So much press goes to either the kid gone awry, problems with the school system, or how our kids are multitasking. But how do we work with communicating with each other on making life happen? How do we do mundane things like share videos just with friends of our child's recital, planning for a field trip or reunion, or reminding our spouse that our daughter has a doctor's appointment coming up?

This is where the differences in communications expectations both trip us up and provide interesting opportunity:

-- In a world where tweens IM and may not email, it has been fascinating to work with three 14-year-old girl scouts on their Silver Award. I have been showing them basic uses of Excel for project management and using a Wiki ( to share information. We have gone to "old fashioned" snail mail as a backup to emailing, cell phone, and text to make sure that the girls adequately communicate with adults that they are working on the project with.
-- It has taken more than 12 months to get a group of moms in a middle-income community comfortable with Google Groups, and still one-third of the regional scout leaders won't sign up. It has taken until this year for all of them to check their e-mails more than 2x/month, if at all.
-- People in my business environment text my non-cell number at least once a week and are surprised I didn't get anything.
-- My home has tried 3 different family calendar programs -- and still has a paper calendar on the refrigerator.
-- We have to go down three screens on our cable system DVR to see what shows we have recorded and down another 3 screens to watch the show (thanks, Time Warner).
-- We had wildfires 3 miles from our house recently and watched the water dropping helicopters from our backyard -- and the only current news was on a.m. radio until the blaze got in the LA Times online 2 days later.

The pending richness of "Web 2.5" -- interactive + presence -- is the ability to improve our lives. Right now, a lot of this is great for single interactions, one-to-one immediate communications. Lots has been made of the overabundance of digital clutter...emails, Twittering, Facebook pokes, texting, unlimited Yahoo! mail, gigantic hard drives, and the like.

Where I am fascinated is the ability to group create, synthesize data, make immediate but insightful connections, touch our souls, and touch our lives. Right now, we are making interesting assumptions that other people are connecting like we are. Or we are carving out digital noise that we don't want and missing beats from connections from others.

The next big thing might be something to synthesize and connect. Two folks have sent me Mobile Tribe -- maybe that's a beat in the music here. Or blending in Copernic's computer search tool with the rest of my home media and family data. Or maybe that data/life/group integration is the real power of the Google empire going forward as their mobile search and Maps begins to creep into true mobile dominance.

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