Monday, June 24, 2013

Is the Internet for Introverts? or Extroverts?

Many interesting things baking in the interdisciplinary computing oven, which, one can only hope, I will be able to report on later this summer. Meanwhile, if you see a snorkel going by feel free to wave.

As the pages turn, I am reading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking on my Kindle. Generally a physical book person, I decided that in honor of Global Tech Women's upcoming inaugural book study group meeting this Friday, I would go all out and follow the bits where they might lead. I wasn't sure I was going to like this approach until I discovered simultaneously the ability to highlight, add notes and the best part of all, to write without picking my fingers up off the screen. Now I have become a writing fiend on my Kindle and my Nexus (and I finally have something easy to explain that I can tell my non techie iPhone friends about why I like my phone better than their phone and why my phone is easier to use than their phone).

But I digress. I want to talk about what "Quiet" has to say about the Internet as a haven for extroverts. Society at large, along with its other mis-perceptions of computing people, often tends to stereotypically think about the Internet as favored by introverts, those sad, sorry souls who can't communicate F2F and prefer to type late at night, with only the green glow (dating myself here) enabling them to see the stale pizza they are gnawing on.

If this stereotype wasn't so embedded in the cultural psyche, it might be easier to convince society at large that computers and computing is cool, and can be used in the service of social change.

But wait a minute...once the Web was overlaid upon the Internet (how many people today realize that the Web and the Internet are not one and the same?) we began to see the power of collaborative activities. How come, with all the global attention that has gone to the power of social media, in particular Twitter and Facebook, in such arenas as spreading word of the Arab Spring, of getting the word out when authoritarian governments would prefer otherwise, how come we don't think more about the Internet as a haven for socially adept action oriented souls?

It seems to me, that when you stop and think about it, there are a lot of not so pasty-faced, not so shy and retiring people out there fomenting all sorts of things on the Internet, in teams, in groups, collaboratively. An argument can plausibly be made that the Internet (not just the Web) has become the haven of extroverts.

There is a dark side of course, which "Quiet" discusses at some length, and that is the power the Internet has lent to the creation and perpetuation of Group Think. Collaboration on a grand scale, social movements and... the hive mind. Yeah...just think about all those cross postings on Facebook that your friends share without having hardly read, or have skimmed and taken at face value just because everyone else is saying so. Have you ever found yourself feeling momentarily guilty or ashamed because you don't agree with the latest post from "your group"? It is easy to just jump on board, isn't it?

Is the Internet attractive to Introverts? Sure... Is the Internet attractive to Extroverts? Sure...

Who spends the most time online, head buried in the screen?

Who gets most energized about taking control of the pipes and what flows through them?

No comments:

Post a Comment