Last week while I was traveling Net Potter brought to my attention a discussion happening on Twitter about the echo chamber (#echolib). This is an incredibly important topic to be thinking about and discussion to have. I’ve been thinking heavily about the ideas of the Echo Chamber and the Bubble lately (well last longer actually).
Let’s talk about the Echo Chamber first – let’s face it most of us are preaching to the choir. Chances are if you didn’t believe in what I write and agree with me (most of the time) you wouldn’t be reading this blog. Chances are if I read your blog and/or follow you on Twitter I agree with you. I occasionally wonder if this is any different from a pack of high school aged “cool” kids, one of them says something and the others say “right on man”! We’re just puffing each other up. What about the unconverted? What if (gasp!) we’re wrong?
In December when I decided to take a two week break I quoted from What Matters Now: “The echo chamber we’re building is getting larger and louder.” – Connected, Howard Mann. I was thinking about and concerned that I am only preaching to the choir. That blogging and twitter are not making the difference I want (hope) to make.
When Seth Godin posted about libraries I loved watching the reaction that went across the web, I even wrote a long comment on Toby’s blog post*. But at the same time the little voice in the back of my mind said – “you are preaching to the choir” and indeed I got several “right on man”s from it. Not that I’m ungrateful for the words of encouragement and support from my colleagues, its always wonderful to hear they don’t think I’m an idiot. I do believe there are positives from the echo chamber – its good hear you are not alone, to have other like-minded people to share ideas with, this is important for motivation & inspiration. Just don’t forget there are others out there who don’t agree with you.
I’m worried though, that as Howard Mann, said “the echo chamber we’re building is getting larger and louder”. At the time I posted the comment I was just thrilled to put my 2 cents in. But later I wondered are the people who don’t agree with me hearing this? Chances are they don’t read blogs, or if they do they don’t read this one, or that they were out-of-town this week. Even if they did see it one of the disadvantages of the web is you don’t have to wait for the opposing viewpoint to finish speaking before you start your response and they don’t have to listen to your response. The web makes it easier to shout louder and longer. Shouting louder into the echo chamber provides support for what you’re yelling and diminishes the chance of hearing a dissenting view-point. Or engaging in real conversation.
Are we, the twittering, blogging, technology inclined shouting into the echo chamber? Are we only puffing each other up? Do we care that this defeats our purpose and goals? I guess it depends on your goals. (Some I’m sure, are just happy to have choir to preach to.) But for most of us, its not. If we’re too busy telling each other “right on man” who’s engaging in discussion with those who don’t agree with us? Because let’s face it, they aren’t reading your blog or following you on twitter.
- #echolib – how do we get library advocacy beyond the echo chamber?
- Library advocacy and the dangers of the “echo chamber”
- #echolib – the Seth Godin Uber-Echo Disaster
*I want to be clear that I have the utmost respect for Toby and believe his post on his blog and The Huffington Post were appropriate and well thought out. I am not disparaging them in any way, it is a just a recent incident I could use to make a point. I was and am thrilled to see so many great people responding to and thinking about this issue. You’ll have to forgive me, but I have to say it to them -right on man! :-)
- What is Library Day in the Life and You Should Participate #libday6
- Challenge! Escape from the Echo Chamber
- Beware Your Information Bubble