The digital footprint

class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-490″ title=”The digital footprint” src=”” alt=”The digital footprint” width=”620″ height=”368″ />

I have been speaking to a number of people recently and a number have made some comments about my perspective on the “digital footprint”.

My intention is not to be negative about digital information nor its impact on our world.  In fact, in many ways I see digital information interaction technologies as one of the great boons and potential drivers of good for our society.  However, as with all things new it is we humans who need to learn to use the tools we create for good, rather than for harm.

This, I would content, takes time, education, maturity and the “getting of wisdom” which is most likely to come from both experience and the opportunity to play.  We need to take from those experiences of play the ability to reflect on lessons learned, and then step back from the immediacy of the moment and attain some perspective on what we are doing, and what its impact will be.  This comes with both patience and tolerance, and having and open and willing mind.

But all too often our impatience and our short term focus means that we humans can be incredibly stupid and get carried away with the technology for its own sake, which can lead to serious mistakes but also the alienation of others who may be more circumspect.  The Luddites weren’t necessarily anti-technology, they were opposed to the rapid and broad-sweeping sociological changes that resulted from technical innovations, which had not necessarily been thought through.  They were afraid of change and of what that change meant to them, and their potential inability to cope in the emerging world.

There are those who are making similar Luddite-type comments about our world now, and who are calling for a general rethink about how our society is developing in terms of information and the technologies that manage them.

I see the current environment as one where we are mere adolescents in the digital ecosystem, and “digital amateurs” as I have previously stated.  I see an almost manic obsession in some areas to embrace almost everything and anything as it comes to hand, to be slaves to the technologies whilst, it seems to me, to be losing something of what makes us innately human.  And I see this happening with very little evaluation of potential consequences or impact on both ourselves and others.  But, then again, those who are out there exploring this new realm and leading the charge are those who are the first to experiment and play – it is these people from whom the rest of us can learn at minimal risk to ourselves.

I have stated that I believe that “communicators”, not necessarily marketers, are “the great white hope” for the future precisely because their role is more holistic and what they do is at the heart of change, and I see a whole redefinition of PR and marketing which will evolve over time.  Everything we do on a human scale comes down to effective and authentic communication and interaction, and as machines become more pervasive and embedded in those interactions there will without a doubt be some sort of impact on us as humans.  We need to be more alert, mindful and purposeful of what we do so that we retain some semblance of choice in how we live our lives, or at least are aware of how it is changing.

Underpinning it all though is the need to develop new capabilities and new tools, to engender an understanding of emerging technologies, but from the perspective of adopting the digital meme and educating individuals, groups and teams, and from there organisations.  This is going to take time, incubation and experience and it is a journey not a destination.

That is the goal of my work as Intersticia and through both the IMM and our research.  It is not an “either/or”, it is very much an “and” and with the “and” comes the promise that digital interaction technologies can aspire to combined with the practicality that they can deliver.