Waves of innovation in communication technologies change us

I like to think about how we operated as kids in my days of using fixed line phones and voicemail machines to get organized for parties or meetups on the beach.  In California we perhaps were limited in the technologies, but never limited in imagination. We had ways to organize music events at the beach or in some house that had the parents away for the weekend. Progress in innovation has made our kids world today all about internet based communications and connectivity to information.

We were recently watching old movies during the holidays and my kids were just amazed at the people in “Beverly Hills Cop” not even having a mobile phone to call people on the move. Life for them is really all about being connected and having the ability to share info over communications channels that are “many”. For that era where I was about the same age as my kids, it was not imaginable to be 13 and have a magical little device (expensive one) that can essentially put me in touch with friends globally in live video or even see where they are walking using location services. We had paper maps! GPS was military stuff for rocket guidance, not finding a nearby starbucks. My kids have unbelievable power to communicate that has changed the way they “operate” and collaborate.

During these last few weeks of 2016 we have seen “shopping mall mass organizations” that are in the news because they are both linked to social media and also that the purpose was to form fights and disruptions at scale. These “instant crowds” are snapped together with little effort on the organizational side other than posting some compelling inspirations over tweets or instagrams. It appears that in many cities across the USA 100’s of teenagers are “snap organizing” fights and protests at local malls by simply broadcasting the “calling” to join over social media. These had me think about the numbers: 600+ teens organized at the swipe of the finger is amazing. It has changed how we operate, and the communications technology opens doors for things like business organizations, events, and feedback in channels for what we live and breathe: contact center unified commutations.

But with change and power there are risks, downsides and people emerge that try everything to stop or slow progress. For each new revolution the resistance is remarkably the same. If you lived thru the change that happened with email being introduced you will recall the pleas to regulate or abolish it. The same arguments were used for VoIP; we heard it cannot be allowed because of regulations for emergency calls, and of course it would be a tool for criminals. The same is being said about social media and how it is a phenomenon that creates mischief.

Today we are seeing the real need for security in social media.  To protect and preserve confidentiality certainly, but also to mitigate impersonation and data theft. Yet, whenever encryption is spoken about there is a chorus of people that claim it leads to criminality and we should keep our commutations somehow like an open post card that anyone can read, copy or manipulate. Kind of inverse to innovation huh?

For 20+ years we have seen email emerge, mature, then age and to some become a roadblock to efficiency; nevertheless email  became and still is the defacto standard to inner-operate communications between people, groups, and even large organizations. It also became the way to create accounts and establish an “identity” over the internet or even for your local government organization to add to your profile on their record base. Email at the end of the day is simply an Internet address space, and that concept will continue to evolve, I hope..

In many ways email was extended and enhanced to accommodate all the demands we put on the system that was really just a replacement for postcards, paper letters, envelops, postboxes, and mail men to move it around in the digital sense vs physical. We pushed those envelopes to also take “packages” of data, ISO images, HTML content and more. Email changed the way we live, and thru growing pains we adapted our society and processes as a personal or business entity. The evolution of email was real-time commutations and effectively the chat UX bloomed and blossomed into many different “gardens of social media groups”.

Another big change coming is brought to us from our kids: the way “news” information is distributed and consumed. For better or worse, the rise of sharing and opening up our lives began with reality TV. But all that has moved over to social media rapidly; TV screens, syndication and advertising have new meaning now. Stars are born with likes and follows at scales never imagined with “spins” in radio jockey days back on the beach in LA. A star today is a “social media influencer” and can be more powerful in 40 characters than “60 minutes” was on Sunday night.

Recently we have seen how twitter has thrust itself into the forefront of “news distribution” as a result of the political “reality show” that happened in 2016. Large media corporations have resisted fiercely the rise of social media, mocked it, claimed it is disinformation at best and fake malicious warfare in most cases in their view. But that is perhaps a lost war already when you turn on the TV and see every anchor sitting there with a twitter post on the screen as the topic of discussion for the day.

Imagine that in 100 places around the world this morning a prime minister, maybe a king, or the chancellor, perhaps the president of that country is looking at Twitter to see what was posted overnight by other leaders. At first this behavior was met with disgust and viewed as amateurish. This week I have taken a smile to see that those leaders around the world are now posting their thoughts and comments too on twitter and that is a good thing in my view as the sources are now front and center and this will change the way we operate, think, and make decisions.

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