Saturday, November 19, 2011

Random thoughts and ramblings on IT and community

Just got back from visiting some church neighbours to invite them to our Christmas BBQ. Met a very nice couple ... friendly and were happy not just to take my invitation leaflet but wanted to chat etc. Told them they made my day as it was so nice to have people willing to chat with me (a stranger). Their response? I also made their day by being willing to actually go door to door and speak with strangers and invite them to a BBQ. And the husband made this comment: "You made my day also. It's so nice to see that neighbours exist!" :-)

They were surprised too (and also impressed) that as a church we did not charge people (not even a gold coin donation). It was so refreshing to talk about our jobs, our coming to NZ (they have been in NZ since 2000). our thoughts on community etc. And hobbies too ... did my trademark sponge ball routine which was much appreciated. :-) It is interesting that this couple sees the value of my magic in that it is a great way to break the ice and open the door to get know people

Sad that they have a training activity that clashes with the BBQ - though they will try to make a late appearance. But they would like to invite me for coffee and conversation next month!

I found it very interesting that they are IT people but are concerned that IT can be very depersonalizing  and how they are trying hard to make their IT business and training incorporate the human touch (not their actual phrase but my words in trying to paraphrase their thoughts). We ended up chatting more as my concern (for a long time) has been how IT seems to be making us dispense with face to face meetings (when we are actually able to meet face to face). Connecting / communing via with physical presence is so important.

All my elders have been very wise in pointing this out to me a number of times that we need to make most of our decisions via face discussions and not via emails, as I am one of the "email communication" culprits :-). Not that I want to decide most things via email  but often there seems to be little choice due to everyones' busy schedules. It takes discipline to use emails to just list out the bare bones of an issue for thought and prayer so that later discussion would be more effective and efficient.

It made me think of some quotes from the latest Genii magazine article (Nov 2011) where Jon Racherbaumer cites a book (Douglas Rushkoff: "Program or be Programmed: The Commandments for a digital age")

Digital networks are decentralizing technologies. They word from far away, exchanging intimacy for distance. This makes them terrifically suitable for long distance communication and activities, but rather awful for engaging with what - or who - is right in front of us. By using a dislocating technology for local connection, we lose our sense of place, as well as home field advantage."

... "In the emerging, highly programmed landscape ahead, you will either create the software or you will be the software, it's really that simple: Program, or be programmed. Choose the former, and gain access to the control panel of civilization. Choose the latter and it could be the last real choice you get to make."

BTW, in case you are wondering, Genii magazine is a magazine on magic! Being a good magician is not just doing a few tricks learnt off youtube. Many of us magicians are part of a magic community, and our love for magic is not divorced from the realities of life - the world of magic takes seriously the world of arts and science - art, drama, psychology, philosophy, mechanics, chemistry, literature etc.

It has been a good morning of visitation.

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