Saturday, 22 December 2007

What's the role of oratory (etc) in a conversation age?

(Warning 1: Pseudo-academic language ahead, from a writer who should know better)

(Warning 2: The actual point of this post is right at the end. Persevere. Or cheat and skip right to the end)

Things are changing. That seems to be the intro to every article I write these days. Mostly because it's true.

The biggest change I see - whether it's in the world of business, leadership, media or even religion- is from one-way message delivery, to two-way message discussion. It's the age of conversation.


In business, witness the proliferation and popularity of books like We Are Smarter Than Me (to which I was one of 3000-odd contributors!) and Join the Conversation.

More specifically, leadership is being deconstructed as an idea. It's early days for this, but the book I'm currently reading, Leadership for the Disillusioned, outlines one academic's efforts to discover a leadership that liberates rather than enslaves. Most of that is done in a dialogical way.

Media has been slowly becoming two-way for about 15 years or more, beginning with talkback radio and now extending to the many channels available on the internet. Now it's becoming mainstream as newspapers, TV and radio make it easier to converse with them through the internet.

And in religion, at least in Christianity, people are simultaneously pressing forward and rediscovering their roots. The book So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore portrays a way of thinking that is outcome-focussed, rather than programmatic. It exposes many of the religious institutions we take for granted as driven by guilt and fear, a diagnosis I endorse, having been part of several churches and wondering what we were doing wrong. Fortunately, the book posits a simple but profound answer.

So my question is ... what happens to the old one-way methods?

I know the new barely ever completely replaces the old. Television didn't wipe out radio, for instance, but it did redefine it.

So, what will the next century or so hold for:
  • Political speeches
  • Blockbuster movies
  • Sermons
  • TV commercials

Why did I write this post? Mainly because I got home from BarCamp last week - one of the most genuinely interactive conference experiences I've ever had - and I really really really really wanted to see a good movie. A real movie. A two-hour long, popcorn movie. And it made me think, will we have movies in twenty years? What will they look like? So there you go.

Now it's your turn. Please comment! :)

1 comment:

Brickgrrl said...

I don't think monologue and dialogue are mutually exclusive. There's a place for both. And one still fuels the other.

To say the world is only about dialogue is akin to the grade school trend of "everyone is gifted; everyone's a winner." Sometimes, people have to sit quietly and listen without speaking. THEN, process and discuss independently of the speech/one-man show/lecture.

It seems to me that the more a society pegs one side of a spectrum, the more they need the other extreme. It's kind of like, the more digital we become, the more interested we are in crafts and great papers and beautifully designed objects.

The difference may be that we have a shorter attention span. Some people are more discerning. Some just need a good smack.

Keep asking the interesting questions...