Communication Will Find a Way

The internet seems to be evolving into more specific social groupings. 

I don’t think it is too big of a stretch to say the internet is the most successful application of communication technology in history. Never has the planet been linked so thoroughly and effortlessly as it is today. It’s true that there are “dead spots” in who can access the internet, but these are not the fault of the technology, rather, they represent conscious repression from the outside. 

Social media is a wellspring from the internet. Our sociability is one of our defining human characteristics. In order to socialize, perhaps it is inevitable that given the ability to communicate, people will communicate. From such inevitability we have language and writing—two defining communication cornerstones.

For most of our history, reach has been the limiting factor for communication. Verbal communication is limited by the language one speaks and the distance one is from the speaker. Historically, this limit imposed geographic constraints on how far afield one might wander from like-language speakers.

Likewise, the written word was restricted to people who could read. Moreover, the reader, too, had to know the language in which the document was written. These constraints allowed communication to be controllable, and therefore, dissemination of ideas could also be controlled.

One of my favorite movie quotes is from Jeff Goldblum in “Jurassic Park” when he says, “Life finds a way,” in response to the safety protocols put in place to prevent dino-procreation. Our need to communicate is a similar inevitability. Regardless of the impediments put in the way, whether manmade or natural, people will try to communicate.

Technology has been the enabler that fulfills the need to communicate. It started small with writing, then printing, then publishing, then telegraphy and telephones, motion picture projections, radio and broadcasting capability. These technologies advanced communication further and to more people. Although not global, these major steps in communication’s technological development set the stage for the internet we have today.

Then, along came the internet. It has enabled us to extend all of the previous technological communication mediums to expand globally and be accessed virtually instantaneously. There really are few, if any, impediments to the exchange of thoughts, ideas or social interaction using the internet. Even language differences can be overcome using translation software that continuously gets better.

Interestingly though, as the internet has developed as a universal communication tool, people who use it seem to be arranging themselves into groups that in some ways reflect the early days of communication when it was technologically challenged. These groups reflect common interest among the members, but rather being limited by language or geography, these groups are self-regulatory based on interest. 

I recently attended the Management Update Conference, held annually by the Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA). I was asked to moderate one of the roundtables that are part of the educational program. Our topic was how media can benefit a shop.

It was three successive half-hour sessions, and I’m happy to report that we had a full table for each. Media has become much more complex in today’s world. In many ways, it is a case of too many choices, and it creates wonder as to what choice to make.

One of the benefits of PMPA membership is access to its listserve. I refer to the listserve as a private chat room. I have monitored it over the years, and for precision machined products manufacturers, it is a gem. It covers topics such as technical issues, regulations, human resources issues, safety, engineering and materials among others.

The listserve is cool because it offers peer-to-peer interaction. Participants are trying to help one another solve common problems.

One of the members who joined our roundtable referred to the listserve as social media. I had never thought of it in that context because my template for social media has been so ingrained by Facebook and its ilk. But the reality is that social media can be more about the social than media. PMPA’s listserve is indeed social media and may represent a direction for it ongoing.

Perhaps, when it comes to business, depth is more important than breadth. On the internet, with its incredible size, some “societies” are better served by less than more.