Over the course of my lifetime, we have seen thing shorten. We have instant and prepared meals, overnight mail, online shopping, faxes, pizza delivery, etc., all of which have seemingly made life easier. When I first was exposed to TED talks (don’t have time to say what they are) in 1984 I thought they were awesome. You could watch somebody share the core of their work and then, if you were taken by it, go and read their book (or whatever). Because of TED talks, I was exposed to the work of dozens of great thinkers, artists and (oops… don’t have time) who I might have never known. Of course, there was also text messaging, which to my mind was really no different than email except, of course, a few seconds faster, and soon we were using shortened words to save even more time. That was the precursor to Twitter, which allowed us to share the wisdom of the world #140characters.
Now, most of my friends will tell you that I am a pretty early adopter of technology so I had no problem until something began to happen. People started sending short texts instead of notes. A story about a complex issue became a 140-word tweet. And clients started asking more and more, “can we do it as a TED Talk?” And then, inevitably, “Any blog over 500 words is too long…people won’t read it.”
Now, I know that there are some things you can talk or write about quickly and it probably doesn’t matter. But when we are trying to break down complex issues like I do, on a daily basis: race relations; diversity and inclusion; unconscious processes; organizational dynamics, etc. the challenge is that the length that is “allowed” is not enough to delve into the complexities. It requires us to either move towards fast distinctions, or partial explanations. And since life occurs largely in complex systems, which means that we often do not dive deep into things that need that cannot be solved in #140characters.
So (since I’ve almost run out of time) to conclude, I will probably sometimes write a short blog. But mostly I will keep trying to delve into issues that I care about because I think it is important that we understand the broader systemic aspects of important issues that we face in our world today. And I hope that some of you will even read them…that is if you can take the time.
424 words…not bad
To read more of Howard’s writings, check out Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives and ReInventing Diversity: Transforming Organizational Community to Strengthen People, Purpose, and Performance