Thursday, May 24, 2007

Interface or Face To Face?

A long, slow wave of understanding has been coming on to me lately, in defiance of the conventional wisdom that the world has moved online. It’s a hunch that my own focus has to be on meeting, being engaged and working with people face to face -- even, and maybe especially, where the subject is the Internet or tech applications in general.

I love the Internet as the meta-tool, and as an evolving art form. It’s the printing press, the mailbox, the soapbox, the radio station, the portfolio, the demo, the business card you can open up and look inside, the jukebox, the movie theatre… I’ve been infatuated with computers and software for over 20 years, and still get that charge of enthusiasm from what they enable me to do.

But the real world is still like the whole grain: it's only full, complete and really works right when all the naturally occurring parts are there. In communicating with people, that includes tone of voice, touch, body language, hundreds of facial muscles that each convey meaning, scent, and there'll probably even turn out to be some other subtle facility that science will chance across in due time.
Web videoconferencing, etc., hasn't changed this, and media truly never will. (Although, as now, lots of people won't know or care about the difference.)

Not that this concept negates the value of the Web; it only puts it in its proper place, which is the printing press, the mailbox, the soapbox, the radio station…

The point is, that with this awesome Swiss Army knife of a tool being utilized to the fullest, there’s still an essential place for meeting and talking with people “in person” -- looking them in the eye, listening to and responding to what they say, on the spot. All in the service of being able to get a gut-level impression of the people, still the most reliable indicator when deciding if you want to work with them.

One meeting is worth a thousand e-mails.

(Okay, or a hundred Webcam video conferences.)

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