Listening to Global Voices

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Ethan Zuckerman is the senior researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and he studies how the world uses new media to share information and moods across cultures, languages and platforms.  In this talk he identifies a troubling challenge:  While the internet connects the globe, most of us only listen to people just like ourselves.

“The world is, in fact, getting more global.  It’s getting more connected.  More of our problems are global in scale.  More of our economics is global in scale.  And our media is less global by the day.”

Our technological connectivity isn’t helping us understand the world.  It’s helping us become more myopic.  And at a time when the real problems of the world are global in scale and scope, we need to broaden our perspective and our sources of information.

That’s an effective practice even if our “world” is our own smaller workplace and community.  Our ability to solve problems, to innovate and to build sustainable businesses, ecosystems and societies, is entirely dependent upon recognizing our interconnectedness.

Just as there are parts of the world are dark spots in terms of attention, there are parts of our smaller world that are blind spots for us. Our ability to learn and understand these dark spots and to discover how they are vital to us, depends not only on the recommendations of guides, but on our desire to seek to understand the full “width and wonder of the world.”

Listening to global voices requires rewiring our own data gathering systems and taking the time to translate, understand and embrace the richness outside our perspective.

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