In Australia, I felt quite connected in my profession – even though I was only in it for a similar amount of time 2001 – 2005. I was regularly on the phone with fella edubloggers, editing up the next wiki page, toying with new ideas, and being invited to join in talks all over the place, at conferences and stuff. Actually, I still get called across the ditch to talk at conferences, although the number is dropping. It seems my move to NZ, and taking a job inside an educational institution has distanced me from my Australian connections, but I can’t say that a sense of local connection has taken its place.
A technorati alert has introduced a link with John Vietch, a rare as hens teeth and not very prolific NZ blogger who is also dwelling on the widley acknowldged social distance, isolation and seeming disconnect in NZ culture:
…The problem behind the poor success rate on social networks is not in Ryze, Xing, Facebook or LinkedIn, it’s in our own heads and in the community. There is a lack of social permission in the community to be strongly involved in these networks…
Weak uptake of read write communications in NZ is not really a measure of the phenomenon that John is alluding to though. I’d say the phenomenon is widely recognised before considering the uptake of Internet, because the few local friends I do have here know that it is hard to make friends or make connections in NZ, especially southern NZ. There’s a reputation in Dunedin that to be successful in business here, its not so much who you know, but who your farthers farther knew! 🙂 I’m not sure how true that is, but its certainly not hard to strike up conversation about the strange and very subtle cultural phenomenon that evades words for me at the moment. And I should acknowledge my own cultural background as being different to here and so may be having an impact on any observation I try to make as well.
I have tried with varying degrees of success, but mostly failure to establish professional communication networks through Internet channels. The face to face and corridor talk still prevails however, and projects remain crippled by low numbers, reliance on physical meetings and poor coordination and reach.
John seems to have a lot more experience then I do working on this in NZ, and I wonder if he’ll continue to reflect on it over the coming days?
Will improved internet communications infrastructure in NZ (particularly southern NZ) necessarily translate into better uptake and use of the Internet? Will it generate a networked, more informed and perhaps more communal NZ? Or will a deep seeded sense of isolation prevent the extroverts within from reaching out and making new connections? Or will the migration of popular media and communications to the Internet (like Google Video and Youtube, Facebook and Beebo) effect a cultural change in NZ and help to undo the private and almost invisible restraint within Southern NZers?