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(man on date) I'll have you know I'm plenty empathetic. I've seen every Khan Academy video on human emotion. Twice.

Emotional distance education

Emotional distance education published on No Comments on Emotional distance education

I, too, know a little about emotion… like the way I feel about the online revolution.

We’re at a really amazing point in human communication. While digital technologies are being used in some trivial and/or mercenary ways, they’re also connecting us in fascinating, unexpected ones.

There’s a lot of unexplored territory here. And very often, you’ll find that people you know are communicating in unfamiliar ways, sharing things that haven’t been shared before.

Sometimes those will be mistakes. Sometimes they’ll be amazing innovations that lead to new possibilities. And most of the time, they’ll be somewhere in between.

For all of us, the trick is to avoid confusing unfamiliarity with danger. We should certainly explore the ramifications of what we’re doing. But take a good long look before you dismiss that strange thing your friend is up to on Facebook, or your sister is doing on her blog, as creepy, stupid or wrong.

Apart from the risks of judging lest ye not be judged, there’s one simple fact: it might not be too long before you’re doing it, too.

Cartoon originally published on ReadWriteWeb

A is for audience

A is for audience published on 1 Comment on A is for audience

Or the people formerly known as the audience, anyway.

Some news: in the run-up to BlogWorld and New Media Expo 2010, I’ll be cartoon-blogging on their site (and at the event itself). This is the first cartoon there – do drop by and let them know if you like it!

Oh, and one more thing… this is cartoon number 300. Everyone gets the day off to celebrate.

Also, doesn’t plug-and-play well with others

Also, doesn’t plug-and-play well with others published on 4 Comments on Also, doesn’t plug-and-play well with others

You want to sound smart next time you’re at a tech demo? Learn to ask this question, “Yes, but does it scale?” Try to arch your eyebrows just a bit, so that you look skeptical but perhaps also hopeful.

If they answer yes, and start talking in technical language way over your head, you say: “I’ll be interested in seeing that play out under real-world conditions.”

If they say, “How do you mean?”, you say: “I think you’ve just answered my question.” (Then spin on your heel and get out. No further conversation can possibly go well at this point.)

When I grow up, I wanna be a…

When I grow up, I wanna be a… published on 6 Comments on When I grow up, I wanna be a…

I don’t know what a high school guidance counsellor’s job looks like these days, at least on the career-advice side. But I’d have to think it involves a certain amount of throwing up of hands and answering kids’ questions with a “You tell me.”

Back when I was in high school (yes, yes, back when I rode to school on a coal-fueled barge and the skies were black with passenger pigeons and ivory-billed woodpeckers), careers had well-defined paths that were expected to take you through your working life. That’s not quite how it worked out for my graduating class; our career paths forked, spiralled and went downright fractal on us.

Maybe we should give up on trying to predict the precise career options that will face today’s crop of fresh faces, and ask instead what skills will make the most sense in a socially networked world. (“Extracting surgically-implanted RFID tags” sounds like a winner right out of the gate.) Conversational authenticity, exercising sound judgement in deciding what to share and with whom, acting online and offline with intention and integrity – these all strike me as pretty critical, not to mention being building blocks for just being decent people.

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