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A professor I had at the University of Michigan, Robert Putnam, wrote a famous book in 2000 called Bowling Alone: The Collapse And Revival of American Community, in which he decried the decline of civic organizations in American society. He argued that individual anomie was replacing the ties that knit us together as a society. Little did he know that social media would soon begin to tie us together digitally in ways that we are only just now beginning to understand.
That’s why a new book called The Age of Conversation may be important to comprehending what’s going on in our society, economy and even polity today. There are a hundred writers—yes 100—who contributed. David Armano at Logic + Emotion is one of them and he has an interested essay. David compares the meltdown of today’s business models and the rise of a renaissance type person who can blog, podcase, navigate virtual worlds—all in the quest for social interraction, connection and conversation—to the era of the Black Death, when civilization collapsed and people were forced back to elemental forms of communication. A very interesting image.
The book’s authors are mostly in marketing and mostly participate actively in what they are talking about—social networking. You can download the book. You can comment on it. You can interract with the array of writers as well. So these folks are doing social media as they do its analysis. I’m going to be reading their essays over the next couple of days and commenting on it.
I do have one thought before delving into The Age of Conversation and it is this—are we talking too much? Are we spending too much time on our blogs, facebook pages, second life avatars, friends, relatives, colleagues, whomever? Are we procrastinating? Are we navel gazing at the process of social media rather than using the process to get at something really important?
David, what do you think?
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