Musing about difference

One of the things that most appeals to me about the Internet is its potential to cross political, geographical and cultural boundaries and make us feel more part of a connected whole than ever before. 

Having said that I work around the world with people from widely varying cultures who have different perspectives on the Internet and its opportunities. In fact it is usually unproductive to assume that we are all the same and have the same expectations. 

Maybe we need to celebrate, and possibly even reinforce, the differences before we start assuming too much about similarities? Maybe we can have both? Maybe we can feel more comfortable about the ways that we are different while at the same time growing to appreciate more the ways that we are the same?

5 thoughts on “Musing about difference

  1. And what an example of how we are different than the reaction to Margaret Thatcher’s death! I don’t condone the anti Thatcher street parties but I used to work for an industry which, if it we’re still in existence would, in today’s energy market, be massively profitable. It was called the Coal Board. Just how great was she?

    Her de-regulation of the financial markets ultimately created the banking disaster which precipitated the current financial depression.

    But she kicked arse in the civil service and made them realise they wre not on a free meal ticket but, instead, had to dance for their supper.

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  2. Beautifully said, Euan. It’s important — maybe imperative — to see where the disconnects are before arriving at the facile assumption (confusion) that "I get you," or we’re all at bottom the same. Allowing the disconnects to speak drives the conversation deeper, often into the unexplored domains where real learning rather than smug platitudes have the most sway. If there’s a moment of panic that we’ll never be able to connect, I say, call it normal, or better, call it discovery — we just found something that’s truly alive.

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  3. We need the differences, though, don’t we? Isn’t it through the exploration of differences that we find new ways forward? Homeogenisation feels a little sterile, but fortunately, we’ll all soon get bored with that. More problematic are the huge swathes of people (and the Internet) with whom we have no contact at all, no moderation of ideas.

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  4. I think that both are essential. One of the great things about the internet is that you can connect with people of like interests even if they are not geographically close to you. It also enables you to connect with people with very diverse interests and experiences. You can find both. The challenge is keeping in touch with the later feature.

    Sites with "social tools" can encourage either or both – but for the most part they tend to gravitate to the "experiencing similar". Also for the awareness of diversity – and our appreciation of it – to grow it requires communication. Truthfully experiencing diversity requires the people to look for it and appreciate it – all the sites out there are just tools, but the style of communication that they promote may help or hinder the process. Do they promote real communication or posting of platitudes and platforms. Unfortunately some of the more popular ones, like Facebook seem to do the latter seeing all the "unfriendings" that have happened over recent political issues & the most recent elections.

    How do we shift this? That is a good question.

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