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tales from the woods

Monday, September 29, 2003

Communication II: Death of the dialog.

Today, i write this post on my computer. I click a button when i'm done, and magically, it gets published to a billboard that the whole world can see! Hey, it gets better. Not only can the world see my communication, it can even interact with it. Is that the coolest thing since dry ice or what? Add to that the ability to talk to anyone anywhere, the power to keep abreast with world news on an hourly basis, and the ability to access any kind of information at any time, and we begin to understand the progress that we've made.

Strangely enough, the problem that we face today is not a lack of information but an excess of it. Today, we're constantly bombarded by more information than we can possibly handle. Our adaptation to this assault is that we now sift through information rather than probe it. A high level understanding of a topic is often considered sufficient. For details, we can always refer to google, can't we? At the same time, the transfer of information (communication) rather than it's scrutiny and application becomes more important. It is the death of the dialog.

A dialog that we used to have with others or with ourselves. A dialog that helped us relate to the information that we received, and convert it into something meaningful. Simply the act of discussing an idea or a thought helps us define it in our own way. We discuss it with others if we're extroverts or simply discuss it with ourselves if we're introverts. It is the time lapse between communication that's important. Reduce this time and you also reduce the power to understand.

Even in today's complex and hyper-hectic life, i get the feeling that most of this complexity and sense of urgency is of our own making. Today, we're expected to reply to emails, SMSes, cell phone calls, pager calls almost instantly after we receive them. Considering that most of these gadgets never leave our persons, most of our work or our communication has actually degenerated to become a set of reactions rather than actions. Instant decisions have become the order of the day.

Are all these never ending emergencies really emergencies? Are we simply scared of slowing down? I don't know many of these answers. In fact, many of these arguments are also subjective and may not even apply to all. What i do know is that i will not let the pace of my life be dictated by technology. Communication is a form of art that allows us to interact with our environment. Let me rephrase that. Art is a form of communication that allows us to have a dialog with our environment. Simply creating a better paint brush does not ensure a better painting.


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