The Power of Communication

Over the weekend, I was re- reading my leadership book with a view to updating it when I spotted this quote by Malaguzzi  and thought just how apt it is.

We are working in difficult times, ever changing and shifting … beyond our ability to predict, for the future has become difficult to govern. I believe that the challenge facing children today is to think how to interconnect – this is the watchword for the present  and the future  – a word that  we need  to understand deeply and in all its forms. Malaguzzi 2005

He talks about the challenge of interconnecting for children but I think it remains just as much a challenge for us.  Interconnecting is communicating, relating and linking together. He is right when he says we need to think deeply about what it means or rather what it means when we don’t interconnect.

Just look up a second from your Smartphone and consider why we should worry about connecting in a world that talks about constant connectivity.

13868667485_fb8e8f7cc3_zThe irony is the more means of communication available, the less we communicate with each other and are fast becoming disconnected. So we merrily tweet, facebook, weichat, linkedin, flikr, Youtube, reddit and digg  but having a chat, a catch up or pop round to see a friend is reducing. Instead, we text each other rather than meeting,  pride ourselves on our 1000 friends on Facebook but if we needed someone to take to a hospital appointment for moral support its unlikely that you would poke any of those 1000. Cornell University used Twitter data to show that despite the current ability to connect with vast amounts of people via the Internet, a person can still only truly maintain a friendship with a maximum of 100 to 200 real friends in their social network. Blimey, 100 people is an Irish wedding!

Nowadays, we order our shopping online, talking to no one except ourselves, well unless you call screaming at the machine that you don’t know your password as talking? Then we leave our house and never need to speak to someone. We go to the supermarket and use those awful self-service checkouts, then buy a train ticket from a self service machine, ask your phone for directions when you are lost and swipe in and out of the station without any connection whatsoever. I reckon there is a BBC3 reality show in there somewhere, “ living by technology alone: surviving without passwords ” starring Joey Essex and Bear Grylls.

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So, if we are to create a world that will enable children to more easily connect we need to reconnect ourselves. Alternatively, we could cause an electricity failure and nothing can be recharged. Imagine back to books, talking, and meeting friends for tea by candlelight. So, not to sound like a luddite and because my connections with overseas friends and colleagues has been strengthened by Skype and WhatsApp, blogs and emails I suggest a compromise. Let’s think about how we use technology to improve communication and encourage more conversations and better interconnections.  Last week we had the London #BigOfstedConversation. This only happened because we used Linkedin, emails, blogs, Eventbrite and Twitter to engage Ofsted and then strengthened our connection with a face to face conversation. We await their written comments so I can use this blog to share the conversation next week.

I attach two films which both began personal communication but then we used technology to make the conversations bigger, widespread and more accessible across the country. Men in Childcare and a University research partnership on a social enterprise were these two conversations creating strong interconnectedness but strengthened by technology morphed into the The London Network of Men in Childcare and my role as Entrepreneur in Residence for Middlesex University. Our job now is to continue to find ways of linking, talking and using social media to increase our personal relationships and build human networks.

So just to keep things in perspective go on YouTube and enjoy the social media blues