Slow Community (in action)

I've written about slowness here before and so has Bruce so it was nice to see a post yesterday from Nancy White offering up the idea of slow community I was enthused by this and wrote a longish comment which, perhaps because for ironic reasons, kept failing to arrive. And so this morning, in desperation, I am posting the comment here in the hope that eventually it will find its way to Nancy's own blog. The problems may themselves be due to slowness (my current reliance on dialup) which makes them quite poignant! Here it is:

Nancy, I cannot tell you how much this resonates with me right now. For the past week I’ve had two problems with speed: (1) my broadband is broken so at home I’m reduced to dialup – am writing this in notepad now to paste in since I can’t be sure the dialup with stay connected – can you remember how that feels? (although I confess to rather revelling in the glorious sound of the modem dialling in..) and (2) I have been ill with a virus which involved many hours laying on the sofa watching crap TV. As a result my entire life slowed to about 10% of its usual pace,and I have been musing a lot on how that feels. Early last week it was very weird, but as the days have passed I’ve become more used to it and I’ve been pondering on how much time I spend being distracted by all the hi-speed interactivity we’ve got going at the moment – of which Twitter is the prime culprit. (Having said that, without Facebook I would not have known it is your birthday and without Twitter I would not have found this post.)
However, what with Twitter and Skype etc we have interactivity and presence in huge amounts and in ways that were never possible in the 90s when you and I first met each other across the O’Reilly webboards. I spent all my time then trying to find apps that were better and faster than Webboard – and now we have them,or at least we’re closer to them. But sometimes I wonder whether the quality of the interactions we can now have are really better and faster, or just more numerous? More people pushing past me on a noisy street?
I don’t know, but more and more recently I’ve found myself longing for a way to be slow without having to disconnect altogether — but do you think that’s possible?
Sue (count me in)

Comment on my comment:
My experience illustrates one reason why we may generally dislike slow community – because slow connection can lead to involuntary disconnection, whereas what we want is to feel in control of our connectedness, and at a speed which suits our individual sensibilities.

4 thoughts on “Slow Community (in action)

  1. EGGZACTLY. It is a polarity we are dealing with here. It is not that fast or slow is good or bad, but we have a tension between them that is hightened by the technology.
    It is fascinating.
    And I posted your comment on the comments on my post, just to make sure we have the threads connected. But not quite so fast, eh? 😉
    I’m going offline for the final Seeds of Compassion event with the Dalai Lama here in Seattle, but there is much to chew on still. Thanks! And I hope you are feeling better.

  2. I think it is entirely possible to slow down and be selective.
    I was interested in your frustration when we met at the Queen’s building about being, maybe, “underconnected” rather than “disconnected”, and mildly amused because I knew that, as time passed, you would feel differently about it. I base this on previous experiences of losing diaries, address books, laptops … we become wedded to the idea that they are “essential” and we can’t live without them, but I have always found that, when it does happen, not only does it not make a not of difference, it is liberating.
    A laptop died on me at the beginning of the year. The only thing I have missed from it, and only in the past week or so, is a rare draft report – which I was able to recover from someone else. The rest was so much detritus and “busy work”.
    I’ve never had much time for the multi-tasking discourse. I think it is coercive and a mistaken idea. It also runs counter to the idea of “flow” which sits with me much more intuitively, and is where I want to spend my time.
    My interpretation of some of the frustrations and boredom that people are expressing about Facebook and Twitter is that they are going through a maturing process. First it was all shiny and new and everyone wanted it, now they realise it’s not manna, and guess what, you have to do some work if you want meaningful relationships and the rewards, in every sense, that go with that. I’m pleased about that, now they’ve all dashed off like so many lemmings over the nearest cliff, I can start seeing how these things might be useful and what’s involved.
    I expect you’ve seen this*. It summed up the boringness of a oligarchy of technology people, when what I want to talk about is art, politics, philosophy, the nature of language etc etc etc. I really couldn’t care less about FriendFeed and SocialThing, I’ll wait until the hubbub dies down and then I’ll see what comes out.
    I don’t think it’s necessary to become disconnected from Twitter or anything else, I think it is much more about judicious and discriminating use of social media for what you want to achieve, and I want meaningful interactions with interesting people that I like.
    I think we need to be aware, as well, that a lot of this is driven by men, or perhaps more precisely, a masculine way of doing things. So there may be other perspectives and approaches which are a little hidden just now.
    I love the Internet and the opportunities it’s opened up to me – but I understand its place. But then, even before the Internet, I always turned off the ringer on my phone when I didn’t want to be interrupted, it never held the imperative for me that it seemed to hold for other people.
    * sorry, don’t know how to add the link to Hugh McLeod’s post: “Why I deleted my Twitter account”.

  3. I concur!
    We need to make space for time to be both connected and for time out of the net.
    Reminds me of a BBC article a while back (sorry, don’t know the link) about a study that revealed that British workers’ IQs go down when they are continuously exposed to high traffic tools like email.
    We need to be able to step out of that sometimes and think and ponder on our own in order to really make the best use of connectivity the rest of the time.

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