The Internet now allows groups to be formed that allow people to communicate with each other. With the introduction of Web 2.0 tools we can really play an active part making the Internet more like us, more responsive to who we are. But we're discovering that we're not very good at using such tools. We don't know each other. Are you who you say you are? Can anyone be trusted? How much confidence do I have in myself?
I discovered on Ryze, the first successful online social network, that 80% of the people who joined never participated in the network in any active way. What a waste. I was shocked when I first discovered those numbers. I blamed Ryze. Not so, this is general across the Internet.
When people Join Ryze they are given a Homepage and the option of keeping that page private. They are give a guest book, which can be turned on or off, and can be for friends only or publicly viewed. The idea is to hide your homepage until you get it ready for other people to see. There's no point in having a Ryze Homepage that's only visible to you. Far too many people never complete a basic simple description of themselves on their homepages. Never get their guest book open, and never join ANY of the 100's of networks on Ryze. (You can join up to 60) The great majority have ONE friend, the person who invited them to join Ryze. Nothing here requires a technical wizard, or great intelligence or knowledge or skill. None of these things are hard to do. People join but fail to engage.
People are online, "everyone is connected" they say (not quite true, but close enough in NZ). But people are NOT participating in any way that would greatly change their lives or the society in which they live. We're not connected in a way that encourages conversations so we can talk to each other. We have web 2.0 tools but we are reluctant to use them.
For many years long before the Internet I kept a private journal. One of the things I do recommend is keeping a private blog, just a place to store your best or developing ideas. If it's private you'll be the only one to read it. On the other hand if you have a public blog, there's more incentive to write something regularly and to do your best work. My personal practice is to write in my journal exercise book less often. I write to Ryze networks quite a bit, usually in response to someone else, but occasionally opening up a new post of my own. Ryze is a place to practice and develop ideas for me. When I get an idea that's working, I then put something in my public blog. The blog becomes a record of how my ideas are developing.
Many people don't have the courage to publish what they think online. We imagine that other "clever people" should do the publishing. While the truth is that when we practise publishing, the need to make sense, and to avoid embarrassment forces us to try really hard. That's good for us. When we practice our own ideas get better.
In the process of telling other people what I think, I get the chance to clarify my own ideas for myself. The act of writing reinforces those ideas. If I'm lucky someone will pick up on what I've said and give me some feedback. Quietly, an online record of all these discussions is growing. The ideas can be revisited, reconsidered and further developed. We need to appreciate what other people are saying. We need to be the witness to the current events of our age. In the process we will discover who we are and what we ourselves should be doing. This is a real process of growth and development. A process of lifelong education.