Convening the Digital Native

PHoto credit: craig neal

PHoto credit: craig neal

I've really been interested in a book that came out last year - around the same time as The Art of Convening - called Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other by MIT Professor Sherry Turkle. The main point of the book, as told by Turkle in her TED talk in March 2011, is that a generation of "digital natives" have grown up in a world where electronic contact is perceived as natural. Unfortunately, if often substitutes for genuine human connection - while at the same time, engendering a yearning for the kind of real connection that is often missing in these managed digital environments.

Turkle also spoke this year, on March 1st, 2012, at TED. That talk, titled "Places We Don't Want to Go,"

has not yet been published, but in the blog post that describes it, Turkle is quoted thusly:

"A teenager says to her, “Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I’d like to learn how to have a conversation.” There is a feeling that conversations are difficult because we don’t have the ability to edit as we talk, and so can’t present the exact face that we’d like to. ”Human relationships are rich, and they’re messy and they’re demanding. And we clean them up with technology. We sacrifice conversation for mere connection."

Read that quote again. Now read it again.

It occurred to me, reading that paragraph, that the real value of the Art of Convening has not yet been manifested. The ability to have a "real" conversation may be slowly lost as a skill as our culture becomes more and more dependent on a "performance of connection" rather than genuine connection.

Like Turkle, I'm not suggesting that digital devices and methods are not useful or that we should junk them, but the ability to connect, for real, is no small thing - and many of us will require help to engage outside of the digital performance arena. Our ability to "see" each other - not the managed performance of each other - requires a strategy that The Art of Convening can provide. I think of it now as a technology of conversation that is an essential element in the momentum of the increasing digitalization of our lives.

The Art of Convening provides a simple formula and practices that a convener uses to provide a safe "container" for us to venture into the vulnerable place of trust, recognition and yes, messiness, where genuine conversation resides. This skill is more and more absent from our everyday lives - and critically absent from the lives of our children, grandchildren and young colleagues.

I've said from the beginning of the process of writing it that I'd love to see The Art of Convening book on the bookshelf in every conference room and every dining room as a guide for those of us yearning to communicate in a meaningful, human way. I continue to learn from it myself, every day, and still have a lot to learn.

I'm grateful to Sherry Turkle for doing the kind of work that examines our humanity as it may be outweighed by a digital environment that create a ubiquitous shell around us. Turkle recommends putting technology in its place. My response, or bias if you will, is to recommend "The Art of Convening" as a  means (one of perhaps many) to regain that balance.

Please add your own comments. I'd love to hear about your experience with "digital natives," conversation and connection strategies.

Cynthia (Cindy) Wold is a co-author of The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings and Conversations.

On Peggy Holman VisionHolder call

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

I did enjoy this eye-opening call with Peggy Holman. I am inspired to read her book.

My impressions:

  • that creative change engages diversity both of persons and of practices;

  • that disruption, disturbance, the sense of things "falling apart" can be befriended for a new start;

  • that the context of "we" , rather than "I and the other" challenges my sense of responsibility;

  • that belonging differs from conformity and

  • that an emerging community holds the imperative that each brings forth their best gift for the well-being of the whole.  

  • (correlates with Peter Block's COMMUNITY...)   

Several years ago I participated in a seminar here with Harrison Owen's Open Space Technology. I was pleased to hear Peggy note this in her research. Harrison then reported on his successful work with US West in Phoenix.  
Lately I have been involved with the SHiFT community here and keep thinking that an Open Space event would be beneficial for those in transition.  After I study Peggy Holman's book, bringing it to the attention of others in my group, who knows what ideas may emerge?
Marie Thielen MA LP CPCC
Third Quarter Design
Coaching for What's Next

The Time for Heretics

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Patricia, Wow. Not one to tend toward hyperbole, I have to say this was a mind-shifting, soul-changing conversation tonight with Mr. Kelly.  Amazing, amazing. Thank you so much!!!  -Maura in Portland

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading tothe most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets' towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone,...

and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you -- beyond that next turning of the canyon walls." - Edward Abbey

How to Add your Comments

Your comments are a rich source of interaction, and your vehicle to be 'present' here on the blog so we encourage you to comment as often as you like.

To do so, click the 'comments' link located under the post you would like to comment on. You will be required to give your name and email address, so we know who is speaking, and will have the opportunity to include the url of your website, if you desire. You might want to click the button that says 'Remember personal info', as that will save you having to fill in your information next time you want to comment.

Type your comment, just as you would in a regular word processing program. Any urls (web addresses) you include in your post will automatically be created as links, but you cannot use any other html coding in this box. All urls need to include http:// at the beginning.

When you have finished, click the 'preview' button to view your comment (if you wish), then click the 'post' button to publish it.

There! That was easy, wasn't it?

If you run into any trouble, or would like to share any wisdom you've gained about the commenting process, please do so below. If you'd like to contact us directly at Heartland, please call 952-925-5995.

Help in Subscribing to this Blog's Feed

PHoto credit: craig neal

PHoto credit: craig neal

The Heartland Circle RSS Feed:

To make sure you don’t miss any new conversation around the Heartland Circle campfire, you can subscribe to this blog and have new content delivered directly to you, rather than having to go online & check the blog every day.

You do this through a (free or paid) News Reader (aka a News Aggregator), which automatically picks up news of any new campfire posts via what's called an RSS or Atom Feed. There are many different versions of News Readers, some of which are part of your browser itself, others accessed using a browser, and some of which are downloadable applications. All allow you to display and subscribe to any blog or website with an RSS feed, including this one.

This sounds more complicated than it is. There are only two basic steps to subscribing:

1) Choose a News Reader. Download and install, or activate it according to instructions (more information on this below)
2) Use the News Reader to subscribe to the Heartland Circle blog using the RSS2 feed, above.

The trick is in choosing and setting up your news reader, and the choices depend on what will work best for your specific needs, so you’ll have to take this step yourself. Hopefully the information below will be of help, and we invite you to add your questions and any wisdom you've gleaned from your experience via the 'comments link below.

If you get stuck, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at the Heartland office and we’ll walk you through some of the choices: 952-925-5995.

More on News Readers:
As you might have surmised, there are many choices for news readers. As a rule, the paid versions will work best for you if aesthetics are important & you want to subscribe to more than one blog. If you just want to experiment, one of the free versions will do just fine. A web search will turn up many more (and there is a full directory at the bottom of the page), but here are some popular options:

For Windows:
* Newz Crawler (cost $24.95)
* FeedDemon (costs $29.95)
* Awasu (free & paid versions)

For Mac OS X:

* Newsfire (requires OSX10.4) $18.99
* NetNewsWire $24.95

Web-based (cross platform):

* Bloglines (free)
* NewsGator (free)

Through your browser (free):
(Be sure you have the latest version of these browsers downloaded)

Firefox -  Firefox’s “live bookmark” is a special type of bookmark that acts as a folder to contain the links in a feed. You can create a live bookmark by simply visiting a site with a feed, clicking on the live bookmark icon in the lower right of the Status Bar, and selecting the feed format you wish to use (we have options for RSS2 or Atom, see above).

Opera - If you have Opera's navigation bar enabled, a Newsfeed button will be displayed if there a newsfeed link is detected on the active page. Simply click the button to start a subscription.

Safari (comes bundled with Apple 0SX)- With Safari, you know right away if you’ve landed on a website that offers an RSS feed, thanks to a handy RSS icon. Click it and Safari automatically displays the feed. Then bookmark the RSS feed so you can return to it later. Safari even tells you when your bookmarked feeds are updated with new articles, so you get the latest news without repeatedly refreshing sites. And if you enjoy scanning the news from all your favorite sites at once, Safari lets you aggregate feeds easily. Create a folder of your frequently viewed RSS feeds from a single window, then browse everything in one cleanly formatted page

Full Directory of RSS-compatible readers


PHoto credit: craig neal

PHoto credit: craig neal

Heartland: Connecting Those Who Are Changing the World Through Vision in Action

Heartland is a global network, serving you and all those called to be social and organizational pioneers. Connect with others who, like you, are making a difference with your life and work by joining this community of "leaders", as defined by Margaret Wheatley: all those who are called to step forward and serve in these times.

Heartland offers dynamic online community services, publishing, and commerce opportunities in support of its global member base and a growing legion of daring new culturalists and leaders.

Experience the power of one multiplied by the power of many: participate in this blog by adding your comments to our notes, attend a Thought Leader Gathering, sign up for an Art of Convening TeleTraining series, or register for the next VisionHolder TeleConversation (click the links below for details!).

Attend and Engage: The Thought Leader Gatherings are held in Minneapolis, MN and the San Francisco Bay Area. These member-based, bi-monthly morning 'conversations' bring together leaders in corporate, non-profit and independent organizations, who are devoted to combining visionary and 'on the ground' discourse ensuring both breakthrough ideas and direct action.

Become a Convener or Hone your Art: The Art of Convening TeleTraining curriculum is designed to develop both the practical aspects of convening meetings, groups and gatherings, and the 'inner' qualities that help focus and hold attention and presence. This work is based on applying our Principles of Essential Conversation and Principles of Convening to your meetings, gatherings and events, & imbuing them with authenticity, heart and impact.

Be Inspired by our unique VisionHolder Calls: The Heartland VisionHolders are those among us leading by example, creating the new story through their lives and work. They are the architects, authors, and point people charting the course for an emerging positive future for business, society and our cultural institutions.

If you hold a vision for a new future unfolding, Heartland offers you connections, access and exposure. Join our vibrant community - come share your vision, join our conversations, and be in community with other seekers looking to step forward and stretch their minds.

We invite you to take your place in our circle...

I am convinced that love is the most durable power in the world. It is not an expression of impractical idealism, but of practical realism. Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, love is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and religion enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love.
—Martin Luther King, Jr., 1957