Looking Beyond Tech

Looking outward is not always easy or natural. I see this firsthand through my own life. If something isn’t a part of your day-to-day routine or perspective considering its impact on the bigger picture can be a challenge. Last night I had a chat with Chris Brogan about how the tech community, for example, struggles with looking outward. He beat me to the punch, posting on our conversation early this morning.

Going beyond Chris’s suggestion of solving real-world problems, I wonder why groups are so resistant to recognizing the impact of outside influences. Last year at Gnomedex, a couple of the presentations had political overtones, which seemed to infuriate some of the attendees. Some of the feedback boiled down to, “Why are we talking politics at a tech conference?”

Why not talk politics at a tech conference? Despite our preferences otherwise, the potential impact of outside influences on the tech world is huge. Political issues that directly impact the tech community include: media consolidation, net neutrality, internet taxes, patent applications, and copyright enforcement/duration.

Technology, and every other industry, doesn’t have the luxury of operating in a silo, focusing only inward on the cool toys. Despite our desire to maintain the purity of our sandboxes, too many outside forces are at work trying to muck things up for the rest of us. If we aren’t proactive and willing to address related issues, political or otherwise, someone else will do it for us, often in a way that doesn’t best meet our needs.


3 Responses to “Looking Beyond Tech”

  1. August 24, 2008 at 1:14 am

    This really strikes a chord with me. I think it is important to think about this and to realize that there are some people out there who really don’t care very much about how cool the tools are – they just want to (or have to, if it is their job) use them to get a message out. You don’t see a carpenter drooling all over his saw or hammer, he just uses them to cut or nail.

  2. October 6, 2008 at 8:29 am

    I think part of the resistance is that groups are a form of safety/sanctuary for many people, so their attention is naturally inward. It can take a long time to find a group that one feels comfortable with, and there are a host of identity issue associated with that, as well as the sense of individual entitlement that society seems to have bred into many of us. So people get uppity when the sanctity of the sanctuary is threatened…some people are there because they DON’T want to face outward influences at all…they want to enjoy the private atmosphere where they can make their own preferences dominant. This is particularly the case when the sanctuary is based on esoteric interests such as technology, blogging, and social media. The general public doesn’t grok us. Individuals within the group will react according to personality and personal interests. That’s how I see the situation. It’s understandable to me, though my values are not aligned in this way. I find a lot of organizations tend to turtle along self-preservation instincts…it just seems safer. It probably is more prudent in an absolute sense, though perhaps overly so.

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August 2008
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