One of the trends discussed was "High tech, high touch," which discussed the need for balance between technology and human interaction. In fact, Naisbitt revisited that topic in 1999 with a book by that title.
I bring this up for a couple of reasons.
One, I was driving down one of our city streets while out at lunch today and saw this billboard. (And I apologize for the poor image quality. I took it with my camera phone while driving!)
The billboard is an ad for a local hospital. Considering that the hospital in question is Catholic, I'm sure additional meaning is intended by the phrase, "Highest Touch." That being said, the second point I wish to make is not a religious one, though I think there are spiritual implications, and most certainly social.
I believe social media has brought us into an age where Naisbitt's vision of the future is being realized online, for it gives us the ability to create digital relationships. While I'm not suggesting that face-to-face interaction is no longer needed (as most certainly it is), social media has added a relational dimension to our use of computing technology.
Rather than merely seeing a balance between the two, as Naisbitt suggested, we are seeing a melding of the two. Interestingly, online interactions are leading to in-person ones. Let me cite four examples.
Early in my business blogging days, one of bloggers I came into connection with was Toby Bloomberg, a marketing consultant based in Atlanta. (I was living in Mississippi at the time.) After a few months of interaction online we decided it was time to meet face-to-face. Toby invited me to attend a monthly meeting of the AiMA (Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association), and I took her up on the offer. Toby and I have been fast friends ever since.
Zane is CEO of Conference Calls Unlimited, an Iowa-based conference call company. Like Toby, Zane and I met via the blogosphere. (He's an avid, prolific blogger.) Not long after, we met at a blogging conference and experienced a real camaraderie. So close was this relationship that Zane traveled all the way from Iowa to attend my wedding! (Keep in mind, we had only meet in-person once before.)
In fact, he showed up in jeans, running shoes and a plaid shirt! That's a little casual even for Cajun weddings! (Turns out, even though Zane arrived at the airport his luggage didn't.) Personally, he could have shown up in his bathrobe. His willingness to travel all that way never ceases to warm my heart.
This list would not be complete without including one of the best friends I have on this earth, my former business partner and co-author of Realty Blogging, Richard Nacht, CEO of Blogging Systems. As with Toby and Zane, our relationship began online and evolved into a business relationship, the start-up of a new company and a book! Oh, and Richard came to my wedding as well. Fortunately, his luggage did arrive. Heh.
My wife, Amie
Perhaps the best example of the "high tech, high touch" phenomena is being lived out by my wife, Amie, and I. You see, we met online via eHarmony (God bless Dr. Neil Clark Warren!). In fact, one out of every eight couples married today met online.
While I don't pretend to be a social anthropologist or understand societal trends in the way that Naisbitt does, my own experience has proved his prediction has value, if not exactly in the same way he intended. (Any of you who fancy yourselves to be scholarly where such matters are concerned, feel free to weigh in.)
Let me leave you with some video footage of Naisbitt himself talking about this "high tech, high touch" world we live in...
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