Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Silos, Echo Chambers, and Human Nature

There are two metaphors in currency out there relatively recently that I think we have to seriously consider: silos and echo chambers. As our communities across time and space have become larger, we are increasingly hearing only one side of the argument or point-of-view. This, of course, has some advantages in that it simplifies our lives and allows us to become more proficient in our little piece of the world than once was possible. Specialization has done wonders in many ways in our society and personal lives.

On the other hand, how easy it then becomes to demonize the Other. How easy it is to miss the big picture. How easy it is to become self-righteous and ego-centered. It is a human problem, no matter who we are or what we do.

In many ways, we need to limit our vision in order to get some work done, but at some point, in so doing, we limit the possibilities of true collaboration and compromise. At some point we are blinded by our narrow-mindedness.

Parochialism used to be thought of as something that happened in small communities or insular places. Now perhaps it is instead based on our position, interest and point of view, with place being an increasingly minor contributor.

What do you think? Do you see more echo chambers and silos now than prior to the rise of digital technology? Is there any need for beginning to re-emphasize the whole . . . the universal?

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seev said...

Very interesting and thoughtful comment, Jim. Yes, now we can easily find people who think the way we do. We can seek out and find these "small towns". But also there's no excuse for us not to seek out the other "small towns" or silos and learn from them. On the Internet, we don't even have to let them know we're there! So, that gives us the opportunity to broaden ourselves, and to really understand other points of view.

I've done a little of that in the area of religion. I'd like to mention a most amazing Anglican by the name of MadPriest! Check him out and you'll see what I mean. But in the area of politics I pretty much stick to my own silo, although I like to think it's a fairly big one, on the left liberal side of things.

Oh, there's so much to learn and find on the Internet! It boggles the mind.

seev said...

I've just been listening part 1 of a two-part sermon on the uuplanet website with the title, Cultivating Universe-al Consciousness, by the Rev. Gail Collins-Ranadive, given on August 24th at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Las Vegas. Very interesting!

Jim Burke said...

Thanks, Marde . . . will check it out.