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Jeff Pulver Visits London

Tuesday evening, 27th of January, 2009, at the London Geek Dinners, in Hummus Bros in Covent Garden, a bunch of techies and geeks gathered, waiting expectantly to hear some inspiring words of wisdom, and learn from Jeff Pulver, headlined as “Technology Anthropologist; Entrepreneur; Early-Stage Seed Investor; speaker, Living in Social Media”..

Arriving at Hummus Bros a little after 7pm, I was glad to find that I had arrived earlier than the guest speaker.  Digging into a warm apple juice with cinnamon, some tabouleh, and some hummus and avocado, gave me a chance to catch up with some familiar faces, and enjoy a satisfying dinner, before Jeff’s arrival.  Apparently, he was coming, straight from the airport, and arrived a short while after I finished ;) Nice timing indeed!

After Jeff got a chance to get settled, and have some dinner, he gave us a short 20 minute speech, sharing some interesting insights, and giving us some of his thoughts around Social Media.

He related some of his childhood stories, of being a Ham radio operator, as a child, and how his persona as a shy child at school was a completely different identity to the person that he could be on the radio.  The two worlds, allowed him to experience being “himself” – without people being able to go on anything more than his voice, and what he talked about.  That liberating freedom, to hide behind the technology, back when Ham Radio’s were mainstream, hasn’t really changed too much, to this day.  That ability to be yourself, with technology dealing with the job of masking the real you, has really become something of an everyday reality.  In fact, so much so, that I remember turning up to an event, where I was sat right behind someone, who I had befriended virtually, but until that moment, didn’t even know who she was ;)  It’s crazy that you can hide yourself, so well, behind the technology, and if you’re just a little afraid, you don’t have to worry about being yourself, until you’re hidden.  Then you magically discover the courage to be yourself.  Scary, yet empowering at the same time :)

Jeff related a story of his high school reunion, which he attended, and went equipped with a video camera, to ask people what they remembered of him, and the first three folks he asked couldn’t even remember who he was, and then the fourth person he asked remembered him, saying something like – ah yes, you’re the one with a cool dad!  Jeff’s take, on that, after reviewing the videotape, after the reunion, was to remember, that it’s not about how you remember yourself to be, but about how others remembered you to be.  An interesting point, I think, we can often forget about.  When creating an impression, it’s not about what you do, or say, it’s about how the other perceives what you’ve said or done..

My final take, from Jeff Pulver’s talk that evening, was about how he would never want to have, on his public facebook identity, pictures of his children.  He discussed the way in which there were clear segments of groups of people, and the ways he related, and connected to them, meant that to different groups of people he wanted to share different things, or disclose different bits of information.  That challenge alone is enough to realise the shortcomings of our current tools of communication..  This point, was, more saliently touching upon an idea that I’ve been playing with for a few years now, and been refining, and synthesizing, through my own needs.. Having the ability to segment, and selectively email groups of people has been in my list of targets to accomplish for a long time now..

Imagine that you have personal pictures that you want to share with your family, pictures of your work colleagues, you want to share with your work friends, and pictures of you out on the town, with friends, that you want to share with just that group of friends.. Right now – there’s no easy or simple solution to that dilemma.. but rest assured, I’m working on it ;) – If you want to talk more about that challenge, hear about some of the innovative solutions that have been thought of already, or help develop the next generation of information filtering and distribution, then get in touch, or comment below, and let’s get the conversation rolling ;)

Jeff, ended by sharing his take on the future… He saw the future as being even more converged, even more connected, even more interconnectedness across our world… He also talked about how technology is making the world smaller, and mentioned a bit about how the ability to stay connected, to have an ambient awareness of everything your friends have been upto.  He described how his childrens generation stayed connected with their friends, even through the school holidays, and that they each know what the others have been upto, thanks to facebook, myspace, and similar platforms..

Imagine who you might still be friends with, or connected with now, if you’d had these tools at your disposal when you were younger??  Our children are growing up in the world, where it’s normal to have travelled to another country, have friends around the world, and stay connected through technology.

Food for thought eh?? Or Fodder for your dreams!!  Night all!

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