Everyone is a Broadcast Channel
As a boy raised in Southwestern, Ohio, I grew up very close to two 20th century marvels of mass communication – Voice of America and the WLW radio tower. Voice of America was designed to broadcast western democratic news around the cold war world. The WLW tower had the ability to broadcast a radio signal to 38 states. Each fascinated me. Every time I saw them, I would think about the amazing things I could accomplish given the ability to reach out and speak with the world. Flash forward a few decades to today’s digitally networked, inter-connected world. Today, every human being is a broadcast channel, connected to a what is potentially a global audience. There are important implications to consider regarding this point. Ultimately, the better we are at understanding this concept, the more likely we are to make meaningful changes to our own lives, our community and our world.
Evolution of Communication
Communication is a big part of what makes us human. Human Beings are the dominant species on Planet Earth. We are social animals. Over time we developed self-awareness, empathy, the capacity to ask questions, the ability think analytically, the gift of applying creativity to envision a different, more favorable reality, and like no other species, we have developed the skill of communication. We are social animals capable of using the gifts to collaborate and solve amazingly complex problems. Humans use language, symbols, and speech to communicate. Throughout history we have developed technology to expand our ability to communicate with one another.
Communication and technology have evolved together
Early man relied on crude gestures and noises, which later gave way to words and drawings. We created oral history, legends, mythology, and transferable knowledge. This then led to tablets and scrolls created slowly for those with the ability to understand them. We were then capable of developing concepts such as mathematics and science as we could document our past knowledge more precisely and then begin to build upon it. Of course this knowledge was limited to a very small segment of the human population of the planet. The invention of the printing press and expansion of trade routes allowed knowledge to spread more easily through out the globe. Knowledge began to shift from monasteries and monarchs to the masses. As literacy increased, so did man’s ability to communicate and innovate. More people communicating more effectively, sharing more ideas, and solving bigger problems. Laying the foundation for our modern world.
Then came electronic media. The telegraph and telephone made it possible for individuals to directly communicate at greater and greater distances. Newspapers, Radio and Television created the idea of mass communication – enabling humans to consume knowledge from the safety, warmth and comfort of our suburban living rooms. Networks standardized our content, giving us shared experiences like The Super Bowl and the last episode of MASH. Communication exploded. Knowledge expanded. Still, channels were limited, access was restricted, and communication was largely one way via broadcast media sources or one to one via the telephone.
Enter the age of the broad-band enabled, mobile device driven, ubiquitous world wide web. An exciting era of Instantaneous, always on, globally connected, data driven, multi-directional communication. An ever evolving seemingly omniscient, omnipresent force, offering universal access to all human knowledge. The internet democratizes information. The internet removes barriers to the access of knowledge. Medical information, financial data, customer reviews, new ideas, beautiful music, art, culture, history, raw human knowledge all a few clicks and a simple search away.
Knowledge is now widely available to all of humanity
The knowledge provided by the world wide web benefits the hungry, the curious, the creative, the entrepreneurial, the innovators. It benefits those who think in terms of abundance, those willing to share. It enables leaders to find followers, and followers to find a cause. The internet levels the playing field, and brings more players into the game in an exponential fashion.
Historically, as we have become better at sharing knowledge with one another, we have advanced as a species. For all of our modern problems, we live longer, have lower infant mortality rates, have a much higher standard of living, and are collectively more intelligent than humans have ever been. People around the world are learning, sharing, communicating, and competing for resources. Knowledge is now abundant. Attention is now scarce. Everyone is a broadcasting channel, competing for attention.
What it means to be a Broadcast Channel?
Everything you do tells a story. Almost every action you take in a digital world creates multiple points of data, which, over time, tell a vivid story to those who choose to observe. Every input matters. Status updates on Facebook & Twitter, searches in google maps, the things you “like” or “retweet” Pictures you share, reviews you write, products you buy, blog posts you author, content you consume, every single search you conduct, every web site you visit, every place you go, all of these are increasingly tied to one another and aggregated to become your channel. Literally, almost everything you do creates some form of content.
You are empowered. We used to be able to legitimately say things like – if only the paper would not be so negative, people would know the truth. If only the media would pick up our story, the masses would support us. If only we had the money for a major ad campaign, people would listen. If only they would help us get the word out, we would be able to accomplish our goals. No longer is this valid.No longer can you blame mass media for not getting the story right or not telling the story at all. You are empowered. The internet gives you equal standing, equal access, equal ability to tell your story any way you choose. Your channel is out there. Are you paying attention to the programming you broadcast.
Your story matters -
Everything you do creates content. Content communicates meaning. Thus everything you do then has the potential to add meaning to our world. From an anthropological perspective, how you spend your time is a reflection of who you are as a person. When all of your activity is tracked, and your time along with it, that reflection looks more like a mirror than a mud puddle. Thus, the choices you make have consequences. Historians will need not guess our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. They will have data, provided courtesy of your broadcast channel. So will will history say of you? How did you spend time on our planet? What did you share with the world?
Sharing is important. As a broadcaster, you get to choose the programming on your channel. You choose what to search for on Google. You choose your friends on social networks. You choose the content you create and the content you endorse with another uniquely human gesture the “thumbs up.” If your life is a stream of information, you choose the editorials, the feature stories, the sports section, the entertainment articles, the business reports, the restaurant reviews, the consumer reports section. Actively through creation or passively through consumption, you choose it all.
More importantly you get to raise the questions, postulate the answers, and create the solutions to the problems you encounter. If there is a problem in your neighborhood, you can organize people to take action and get things done, without the need of the media, the government, or a formal blessing from on high. You simply need the passion, the vision, and the willingness to make things happen. You can be the source of good by being the source of good content.
Your story is my story is our story – potentially
If you make a conscious effort to do things to improve your life, you can share my knowledge with others. You can question your own behavioral patterns, create new habits, and take actions to improve your quality of life. By telling your story, you paint a picture of a human being going through conscious evolution – trying to become a better version of oneself. You can learn from others who are sharing their stories, and help others who learn from yours Thus evolution becomes a collective effort.
It is a basic ethic of sharing – something we are taught as children. As we share, we evolve, create, and innovate. We build a better future one story at a time. We shed our passive reliance on mass story tellers and instead build nimble armies of action oriented citizens intent on creating a better world.
Why does this matter?
The internet provides you with the power to broadcast your story to the world. Historians will not have to guess who were were and what we did as a people. For each and every one of us, there will be more information documented than was gathered on Kings, Emperors, Rulers, Presidents, Celebrities, and the most powerful people throughout the history of mankind. This information you create is powerful. It communicates messages. When people choose to act in unison, those random individual voices of good can create a powerful chorus of change. A chorus that can determine the future, and make its own history.
The power to communicate can be used for good. By communicating your own stories, and reciprocally sharing the positive works of others, you can change the mindset of your community and the perception of the world. What do most people on the planet think of your community? The answer is they don’t. They don’t know your story. Why? They don’t have a reason to. They are busy maintaining their own channels, living their own lives. To reach them, your story must be meaningful.
Attention is scarce. When everyone can communicate with everyone else, It is difficult to get people’s attention. So for a community to be heard, people must work together to amplify the voice. For people to tune in, you must support positive efforts of those in your community. You must share the wonders of living in your community with the world. You must intentionally communicate your spirit of curiosity, progress, innovation, and creativity by more effectively using your individual broadcast capabilities to share your story and the stories of others with the world.
If you recognize your ability to transmit information to the world. If you truly believe in improving your community. If you honestly support those around you who are working to change our world, use your ability to broadcast information to tell their stories. Your channel. You choose what is on. You are the program director.
What you share matters.
What you search for matters.
Where you buy goods and services matters.
Where you spend leisure time matters.
The stories you tell matter.
The friends you make matter.
The vision you create matters.
The questions you ask matter.
The solutions you produce matter.
The lives you change matter.
Sharing, creating, and communicating matters.
You are a human being – an amazing creature gifted with the skill to communicate.
You have the power to change the world. You can create a compelling story by doing amazing things and sharing your thoughts with the world. Communicate! Use your curiosity to ask questions? Use your creativity to produce solutions to the problems that matter to you. Use your ability to communicate and the wonder of modern technology to motivate other human beings to join your cause. Surprise the world with your insight, passion, and commitment. You are a broadcast channel. Your words and deeds communicate with the world. Choose them wisely, choose them intentionally, choose to create a life worth watching.
About this post:
Last summer, I was invited by my friend Sean Creighton to participate in a new project he was producing called SOCHE Talks. Inspired by the TED conference, the SOCHE Talks project features short videos created by various people, mostly educators, from Southern Ohio. The list of participants includes brilliant and talented people such as Jaime Aidoff, Dr. Todd Dewett, Eric Fingerhut, and Jim Malarkey. Not sure how I wound up on this list, but I did my best to contribute to the project.
By agreeing to participate, I committed to presenting a short speech on the topic of my choosing. So, last summer I went to ThinkTV in downtown Dayton and spoke on the concept that Everyone is a Broadcast Channel. This post is the text of that speech.
If you are interested in watching the video of this presentation, here is a link to the SOCHE talks page.
Thanks to Sean and SOCHE for allowing me to participate and share.