Community – Connection, Communication, Future #33 #cong19

Synopsis:

Community is an incredible teacher of social and emotional skills that will become increasingly important in the fast chaining world. A risk to the sustainability of these wonderful facets of the community is losing traditional ways of communicating as a community and reliance on digital platforms that do not champion the local. Technology offers opportunity but needs to be directed in ways best for the community.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. The emotional and social skills fostered through community are valuable now and more so in the future.
  2. Communication is key for strong communities and at risk with the loss of traditional forms of communication and the pervasiveness of social media.
  3. Metrics of social media are not supportive of physical, intimate communities of depth.
  4. Can we envision a community communication platform that preserved the best of traditional communication and harnessed opportunity from technology?

About Carlene Lyttle:

After living in 7 different cities in 6 different countries Carlene was drawn back in the North West of Ireland looking for community, creativity and connection.
Like many, she returned after starting a family with an appreciation of the values of community and the opportunities for a fulfilling and engaging life living within a community. She wants to be part of a positive movement to make the area vibrant and exciting for her and her son.
Having worked in the high technology space sector she has seen the efficiencies that digital technology can bring. She wants to explore the opportunity to improve life in Inishowen with a specifically designed platform that delivers an integrated communication service. This is currently a project she is developing with the support of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.

Contacting Carlene Lyttle:

You can follow Carlene on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

By Carlene Lyttle

Machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics – with the speed of technology what does the future hold for communities? 65% of children now entering primary school will grow into jobs not even invented yet. As a mother of a four-year-old how do I prepare my son for a very different future from the world I live in?

Creativity, empathy, storytelling. Emotional and social intelligence will be the sought-after skills of the future. Community fosters these skills. I see them in spades in Inishowen where I’m living. For me a physical and intimate community life will be the best preparation for the uncertain future of work. We need to value creativity, empathy, storytelling. With meaningful value – support, attendance, time, money.

Physical communities have depth. They require time, thought, consideration, real connection. As pointed out by Eoin Kennedy in his submission ‘Have we lost the art of chat?’, communication is key to sustaining communities. Physical communities do not thrive on social platforms. The metrics of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter is to get response in the ten and hundred thousand. In a rural community like Inishowen with a population of 40,000 or a market town like Carndonagh with a population of 2,000, how can a rural communities concerns go viral? These platforms are made to go viral not rural. A post for a beach clean after a storm – 5 likes. The action will result in 3 bin bags of plastic taken from the ocean but will be deemed a failure on the social media scene. I agree with Max Hastings submission and the idea that platforms promoting aggressive approval of others and self-obsession, are the enemy of community.

Physical communities are already dealing with diminishing traditional forms of communication – local newspapers, parish bulletins, notice boards; as well as the decline in word of mouth communication as the traditional centres of congregation decline – pubs and mass. If groups within the community are driven towards social media platforms, communication becomes siloed, disconnected, and lost in social media noise. Our communication in communities’ risks being structured in isolated web sites, Facebook pages or Instagram profiles where information isn’t shared – hampering growth, duplicating effort, and resulting in missed opportunities. When local groups use communication platforms designed for a global response, the depth of community work is lost.

In 2017 Facebook made a manifesto on global communities saying it would “strengthen our social fabric and bring the world closer together”. Then they sold our data to Cambridge Analytica. As Yuval Noah Harai points out, in the excellent 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, a community cannot be built on a business model that captures people attention to sell it to advertisers.

Technology does offer opportunity. Its transformative nature can have huge positive impacts as the James Casey and Peter Kearns’ submission attests. The risk from technology is the thoughtless way we are adopting it without considering what impact it is having. Technology could help, as Pamela O’Brien explores in her submission on how can technology facilitate the idea of community rather than erode it. With Pamela O’Brien and Eoin Kennedy I recognise the need to actively preserve the best parts of traditional community and the communication forms that come with it.

To retain the creative, empathetic, storytelling power of my local community how can we replace the traditional forms of community communication, preserving the best and harness the undoubted power of communication technology to make connections which have depth?