Dynamic Compartmentalisation

Breakfast and conversation again yesterday, courtesy of OneAlfredPlace and Steve Moore I love the way that Steve keeps playing with different formats. This one involved three cool people (coincidentally all members of my twitterstream) Jeremy, Kevin & Matt from Penguin, The Guardian and Channel 4 respectively, all talking about what happens next in their worlds, ably steered by Rebecca Caroe. As Matt disarmingly pointed out, when you ask people in the vanguard of change what the future will be like, it’s not surprising that they describe a scenario in which there are really cool jobs for people like them. But as I feel part of the same vanguard, I’m not going to disagree with what they were saying. The common thread for me was that they all see their jobs as doing away with technology dependent descriptions of what they do (sell books, paper, TV programmes) towards being in the market for ideas and stories. I wanted to ask to what extent they saw themselves as competition for each other, or more properly for our attention.

Mark has captured the nugget in what Matt said about some current C4 research on teenage net use.

“Seems one girl the researchers were following was hanging out online doing amongst other things a spot of the hi-speed Instant Messaging that only the young can really manage for any length of time.

She had sorted all her contacts into 6-7 or seven groups – schoolfriends, family etc but also “bitches” “wankers” and so on. What was striking though was the way in which she switched contacts between the groups in real time. Even if the members of her different social networks remained mostly consistent over the short term, their roles were in constant flux. And those are just the small set of folk she is in regular contact with regularly…”

Read the whole thing for Mark’s point on this (as well as some bonus Tommy Cooper) but what struck me was how it fits with what I’ve been saying about compartmentalisation – that the way we dealt with having larger numbers of acquaintances than 150 was to split them up (at least in our heads) and make sure they never came into contact with each other (except when we wanted them all to share something with us – weddings – or where we were no longer in control – funerals – both of which, especially with the addition of alcohol can become explosive situations). I see a lot of people struggling with the problem that online social networks make compartmentalism more difficult. It seems to me that the solution here though is a creative third way – keep the idea of compartments, but treat them much more dynamically.

As usual, I feel I’ve taken hundreds of words to say something very simple and obvious. Sorry.