Thursday saw me leading a lunchtime session on social media for people who work at Advantage West Midlands. I’d been invited by the Prospect Trade Union as part of the National Learning at Work Week.
It wasn’t my normal audience – that would be communicators, policy makers, senior officers, politicians perhaps data people. This group just had a lunchtime spare with a mind to learn something new. Curious and hungry and unaware they were about to receive the full bore of my enthusiasm for the web and civic engagement.
Loads of question followed – good simple straight forward ones about how things work, privacy, why you would bother. The sort of questions we’re used to being asked at social media surgeries. So a group refreshingly happy to ask the basics.
One really made me stop and think: “Is that on Google or the internet?”.
I was stumped for a moment. It felt like a cartoon character has just looked up at me from a drawing and asked me to explain the world of 3 dimensions.
It’s a perfectly reasonable one mind (all questions are). “You can find it through Google or you can go straight to the web page using the web address,” I tried to explain, adding: “they’re all on the internet” to a rather puzzled frown.
It happened to be Silver Surfers this week. I’m not keen on the idea myself but marketing minds often feel it is working and perhaps that question explains the need.
Remember the basics
If even the concept of the world wide web is still slippery for some (hence the question) how do we describe this fundamental shift in information and relationships for those who have yet to grasp it? So I asked twitter this question:
I’m struggling for an analogy to explain the Internet to people who’ve only ever known libraries and radio etc. any thoughts?
and these are your generous answers in the order they arrived:
parboo it’s like a library, all on… Nope, I can see why you’re struggling 😉 how’s you n yours? (fine thanks) ( click here for parboo’s blog)
citizensheep I’m struggling to have any thoughts at all at the moment. I’ll have a think though. (Citizensheep is Michael Grimes and his blog shows that it’s always worth waiting for his thoughts)
josiefraser @podnosh Internet like a highway apparently http://u.nu/3dvfa if you say super highway it makes it a bit more ziggy stardust. So maybe don’t. ( Josie’s blog)
steve_nicholls @podnosh i think @parboo was on to it there. A big reference book where instead of skimming the index, you type it in?
pauljonlevy @podnosh Like ceefax but better? You off timetravelng? LIke everybook or radio programme in the world on air at the same time?
bounder @podnosh CB Radio with librarians 😉 ? (Jon’s blog)
redmamba @podnosh brain ?
cyberdoyle @podnosh tell them its libraries and radio on rocket fuel. similar but faster. and on tap. available on demand. if you can get a connection.
peteashton @podnosh probably no help but it’s both larger and smaller than a library. 😉 (Pete’s blog)
natashacarlish @podnosh it’s like all the books and all the radio and a whole lot more inside a tvscreen which you can access all the time
danslee @podnosh Internet? It’s like having a selection of really good books delivered to your desk. At the click of a button #librarywebanalogy (some of the stuff Dan blogs about)
red_annie @podnosh the Internet is what happened when the library, supermarket, post office, radio and tv got squished into a portable box. (Annie’s blog)
katehughes @podnosh imagine a library so big it has all the books in the world, then imagine that instead of books, it is filled with knowledge, then imagine instead of aisles and the dewey decimal system, the information comes to you instantly and every piece of infinite information is attached to each other so you can find whatever you want from wherever you start. I love the internet. http://tl.gd/1e1lo5 (By the way Kate is cheating – she uses tweetlonger to share more than 140 characters with us! She’s also blogs at http://socialhousingcomms.blogspot.com/.)
KazThomas @podnosh Internet: Encyclopedia of life filled with screens of knowledge! I reckon that sums it up? (Karen’s blog)
BostinBloke @podnosh electronic library
parboo @steve_nicholls @podnosh yes… and it finds stuff quicker than a quick thing in a quick box and it talks too and you can put stuff in it.
One I left out of order was this:
mattbuck_hack @parboo @podnosh Is the ‘answer’ us? 😉 #copyright #gnomic #utterancesINC
I do wonder whether reading this would make the person who asked the question any the wiser but is amuses me that the tweet that most seemed to sum up my inadequate thought (which is nothing more complicated than “help”) should come from Matt Buck – a cartoonist, one who more than most might be able to explain the transition from 2 dimensions to 3.