KANEKO panel discusses how social media is reshaping our minds

After following Robert Murphy’s blog and reading his excellent, in-depth recaps of events – Big Omaha 2009, Nicholas Kristof at KANEKO – we’ve asked him to contribute event recaps to Silicon Prairie News. Today, we’re excited to share hist first, which covers KANEKO’s most recent event.

After following Robert Murphy‘s blog and reading his excellent, in-depth recaps of events – Big Omaha 2009, Nicholas Kristof at KANEKO – we’ve asked him to contribute event recaps to Silicon Prairie News. Today, we’re excited to share hist first, which covers KANEKO‘s most recent event.

Robert is the art director for Christ Community Church, bringing creative support to their message series and church-wide projects. He’s also part of the pastoral care team. When that isn’t going on, he’s spending time with his wife and two sons.


 

 

“I’m hoping to understand 10% of what’s said.” – Overheard, before event, from an older woman

The iPhone has changed life. – Dr. Jean-Pierre Klotz

Why Facebook and not Twitter? – Question posed to the panel by Hal France

We are becoming cyborgs. – Rahul Gupta

The conversation was billed by KANEKO as Relationships 2.0? – How New Social Media is Reshaping Your Mind. I had my own ideas about what was going to be shared during the discussion, I just didn’t think I’d be walking around later wondering, “I think Rahul is on to something with that cyborg line.”

French Psychoanalyst Dr. Jean-Pierre Klotz was the main speaker for this conversation. Amy Mather, Rahul Gupta and Joe Gerstandt joined him for the panel discussion.

Dr. Klotz started off by explaining why someone like him, a French intellectual, would be so fascinated with social media. Like a lot of recent social media converts, Dr. Klotz was turned onto social media by his kids and grandkids.

He then shared insights as it related to his psychoanalysis practice. His practice is a practical one, not intellectual. The only way Dr. Klotz can connect with his patients is through speech and being present with them in the same room. However, with the advent of social media, there is no longer a need for being present. You can have an intellectual transfer through new ways, from people half a world away.

As well, we can now choose how we are contacted, and communicated to, through social media. The example here was President Barack Obama and how his 3.4 million followers on Twitter choose to be contacted directly by him through Twitter’s 140 characters. What do people like about this idea of following President Obama on Twitter? They get a sense of communicating directly with him, the (arguably) most powerful man in the free world. When has that kind of access ever been available to the public?

Communication

There were two points Dr. Klotz wanted to highlight about this new world we live in today. The first point was communication. Communication now is more total than usual traditional communication. It was here when he talked about how the iPhone has changed life. It is easier to communicate now than it ever has been. When he said this, I was reminded of something I heard recently. In 1848, it took six months for a letter the President of the United States mailed to California to be delivered to its address.

Transparency

The second point Dr. Klotz wanted to highlight was transparency. We now live in a moment of civilization where it is compulsory to be transparent to the world. Even though there is no obligation to do so, the pressure is there to oblige and make yourself visible to the world on social networks. We can go on Facebook, search for any public profile on Facebook, and form an opinion about them because we know their religious, political and cultural leanings. With increased transparency we can also communicate more effectively because we understand better what is behind any given communication. The transparency allows us to understand a person’s world better, and thus have a greater understanding of the why within what they communicate.

Facebook versus Twitter

He then shifted into Facebook versus Twitter. Dr. Klotz acknowledged the practicality of Facebook in how you can share photos and remarks with people.

Twitter is “genius,” though, because of its specificity and ease in manipulation. He tells his friends, who say it’s complicated, that it is simple: followers, following, timeline. All one needs is practice with it.

Dr. Klotz talked about how it used to be hard to encounter colleagues around the world. (He’s lectured on four continents.) With Twitter, though, it can happen immediately. Referring to Twitter’s succinctness as a positive, he brought up how emails are not read anymore because they are too long. To him, if an email is beyond five to six lines, he won’t read it. Tweets get read because they are limited to 140 characters. His comments about email reminded me about the Wall Street Journal article, The End of the Email Era.

An offshoot of using Twitter is a bit of an enigma develops about the individual. We leave holes in what we say over Twitter, so an enigma develops. This is “very interesting” to his practice.

Global Dialog

With the prevalence of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, there has been shift in what is impossible with communication and transparency. Before, it seemed like science-fiction to pull a phone out of your pocket and then broadcast video to someone in another country. That’s reality now with smartphones. We have the capability to communicate to the world at any moment. What is now the new impossible with communication and transparency?

We speak with people around the world every day. We become friends with them, and yet we’ve never met them. Because of this, a special loneliness as developed. A specific type of isolation. Some people live in front of their computers, never interacting with another presence, because they are interacting with hundreds of people online.

A global dialog is happening, Dr. Klotz noted. For instance, we are at a conference and we tweet something out that we heard. Instantaneously, our followers respond to the data we sent out. The other aspect of this new global communication is it has an induced the world’s citizens to feel as “one.” There are much less obstacles between human beings because of social media.

Panel Q&A

Participating in the panel with Dr. Klotz (far left), was Amy Mather, Rahul Gupta and Joe Gerstandt.

After Dr. Klotz shared, it was time for the Q&A portion with the panel. Below is a sampling of some of the questions. Because of Dr. Klotz’s lauding of Twitter, and Amy Mather being against Twitter, Hal France posed the obvious question.

Q: Why Facebook and not Twitter?

Amy’s response was simple. “I hate Twitter.” 140 characters is never enough with conversation. She’s been on social media for years, and prefers the fuller conversation you can have on Facebook. She wants to see people’s pics and know the inane with people like what their favorite cereal is. She sees Twitter as being me-focused, whereas Facebook is about conversations. Plus, you can also jump in and out of conversations with ease on Facebook.

Rahul Gupta placed himself in the Twitter camp. He didn’t use social media until he moved to Omaha. He started using Twitter two years ago, and that led him to using Facebook. He sees Facebook as friends from previous life, and Twitter as experiencing life in Omaha. Through Twitter, he was able to meet potential new clients, be a part of the local entrepreneurial community and meet many new friends. So much so that he had 50 people at his son’s first birthday.

Joe Gerstandt is a veteran of both Facebook and Twitter. Facebook does add context, but it also brings chaos. Your Facebook profile can be a convergence of business partners and former flames, which is not necessarily the best mix. It’s one reason why he’s a big fan of Twitter. It is also forward leaning. You develop new relationships, and it leads somewhere where you meet people outside of the network.

Joe also brought up how people use Facebook and Twitter in different ways. This is true of all social media. There’s not just one standard way one converses in all social media platforms.

Q: The history of social media is littered with networks that have died. What will happen with Twitter and Facebook? What’s the future of social media?

Hal put it dryly to the panel, after this question was posed from the audience, “And, can you predict the future?”

Amy* listed off a number of social media sites that need to be put out of their misery, like Friendster, or sites that take up space, like Google Buzz, which she deemed “a failure.” There does seem to be a group of people committed to MySpace, despite its decline. She did think both Facebook and Twitter would survive.

Rahul thought both were set up for survival. He noted Facebook’s multi-generational users and how there is a broader buy-in from people. Facebook has been strategic in getting people to join. People see it as a place to live/be. Twitter is more of a platform, it delivers information to people.

Joe sees an increase in niche social networks, like Ning. He does hope Facebook “goes away.” There will be more and more social media options as technology continues to be integrated with the networks.

*Correction at 6 p.m. – Orginally it read “Ann,” it should have been Amy, referring to Amy Mather

Q: What’s the impact of social media communicating news to society?

Joe brought up how the tools could be influential, but still face-to-face communication is the most effective. Even then, we’re still not good at it as one can see when they watch C-SPAN.

Q: Can we twitter in person?

This led to the line of the night, in my opinion, when Rahul remarked how we are becoming more like cyborgs. We’re never without our smartphone anymore. We have access to so much at a moment’s notice. When does the body end in its physical form and technology start?

Rahul’s line drew a lot of laughs, but there is truth to it. This scene from The Matrix doesn’t seem far-fetched anymore. I was reminded how in 2008, my wife and I were driving to the movie theater to see Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. My wife asked me a question about John Williams, who scored all the Indiana Jones films. While driving, I called ChaCha and asked the question. Within a minute, ChaCha texted back a bio on John Williams with the answer.

Q: I’m overwhelmed. Social media, email, and I don’t know what Joe said…Ning? I just want to do my thing.

Amy stressed that when she disconnects, she makes sure she does just that. It’s easy to be overwhelmed and that’s why she doesn’t use every social media platform. She tries to limit her usage.

It was then that someone in the crowd mentioned the recent World-Herald article about people backing away from social media. Rahul retorted with, “Did you mention a newspaper?”

Joe asked the question that everyone using social media should ask. What are you trying to accomplish? What tools do you need? We have a tendency to be conformists. There are thousands of social media sites, many we have never heard of. The key is to know what you’re doing, and how you can accomplish it.

Unfortunately, at this point, time ran out on the event. A number of people still had questions. Hal remarked, he hoped the conversation would continue online.

I appreciated what Dr. Klotz had to say, and the perspectives Amy, Rahul and Joe brought to the discussion. Hal also did an excellent job of emceeing the event. I liked his approach. He is a learner, and subtly adds personality to the discussion. His self-deprecation about not knowing how some social media works drew laughs and connected him with many of us who resonate with that feeling.

KANEKO continues to bring in great speakers, from a variety of pertinent fields and experiences, that sharpen the mind.

Look to RamHatter.com for more from Robert.

KANEKO photos by Danny Schreiber.


Robert can be reached at ramhatter@gmail.com, found on Twitter at @RamHatter, and in the blogosphere at RamHatter.com.

 

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