Invited to present at TEDx East London, I had lots of conversations with its wonderful Curator Maryam Pasha. The theme of the TEDx was ‘Society Beyond Borders’. I had a flow of ideas about how the digital world has forced a redefinition of borders and the consequent paradoxes: the end of space and time that does not increase our proximity; hyper-connectivity that does not make us hyper-collaborative, etc. You can see the talk here and you can read here my ‘Directors Cut’, the script I wrote afterwards, including what I could not say in the 18 min live talk in London.
I had a clear idea of the first part of the flow of the talk. What was less clear to me was ‘Part 2’ or the ‘So what?’ Like those TV contests, some movies and some video games, I had two possible endings for the script. I could go for the logical ‘commercial’ side easily. After all, my consulting work has to do with large scale behavioural change and we use the power of peer-to-peer influence as a currency. We know about networks and human connectivity. This is natural territory for me. Or I could perhaps go for a more personal side: the liabilities of lack of borders for the Self and the Soul in the new digital world. In praising ‘no borders’ (‘Anything without Borders’ has a head start), we have forgotten the dangers of the Full Disclosure of The Self that many people seem so comfortable with.
Option A’s end was clear, but Option B’s ending was fuzzy, more of a nagging problem in my head: adolescents living in that world of Full Disclosure, the relinquishing of privacy, the cult of transparency, identity in cyberspace, etc. My old psychiatric hat was nagging me too much to let me avoid these themes…
I did offer Maryam both Option A and Option B, quite convinced that A (the logical, commercial, well crafted version) would win. I was wrong. In her gentle and firm curatorship, I was directed towards the corridor of my unfinished thoughts. ‘Make it personal’, she said. The same week I had a chat with a business partner and I shared with him my dilemma. He asked me straight: ‘Where is your heart?’ I confessed, B. ‘Well, no brainer then, that would be You talking!’.
Yes, personal wins. Personal won on the day. It was a good advice for when in doubt. I should have known … but I needed a good curator and a good business partner to take me to the more difficult and less obvious option