An excellent story in today’s Globe and Mail (Toronto) about the impact of the internet on our interpersonal connections:
“[…]The current generation of e-mail users is communicating much more often than recent generations and possibly more often than any previous generation since people huddled in caves with only conversation to pass the nights away,” says the study, which was funded by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Heavy e-mail users have more than twice as much land-line phone contact within their social networks and three times as much cellular phone contact than people who do not use e-mail, according to the report.
“E-mail supplements, rather than replaces, the communication people have with people who are very close to them — as well as . . . with those not so close,” the report says in noting e-mail’s key role in maintaining ties between acquaintances.”
(Excerpted from the article: “Web skeptics, take note: The sky hasn’t fallen
Internet doesn’t destroy relationships, a new study finds, it strengthens them” by Jill Mahoney, The Globe and Mail, Thursday, January 26, 2006)
I’ve always believed that the Internet is the greatest multiplier of human potential since Gutenberg (not Steve, of course, but Johannes), because it does exactly as described in the G&M article – it multiplies my ability as a solopreneur to reach out and stay in contact with many people at once… to keep a one-to-one conversation going with thousands of people in parallel.
This article is especially timely for me because I recently met a struggling solopreneur who was fiercely resisting using the Internet. She wanted me to mail her information separately, instead of clicking through links that I provided her, to view the information I posted on my Web site.
While I recognize that there is a learning curve to all technology (and I when through this myself in starting up my blog and now with podcasts), I truly believe that it is crucial to my mission and vision that I employ all tools that help me communicate better and more clearly with more people.
Living as a solopreneur now, in 2006, is vastly simpler than when I started out on this path in 1994. I am proud to have been on the web since 1994 (see my first sites using the Wayback Machine here). I could not even imagine what it would have been like to go solo before the personal computer became affordable! (pre-1980!) Having to stuff envelopes and use snail mail to keep in touch? Too high of a barrier to performance…
Interesting research suggestion… Actually, go read the Wikipedia bio of Johannes Gutenberg – brilliant inventor who lived penniless most of his life… The prototypical solopreneur, eh?
Other suggestion… For those who are Webophobes, I came across what looks like an excellent project funded by the (Canadian) government, called Student Connections (www.studentconnections.ca) It is a service, staffed with bright and enthusiastic young students, that offers training and consulting services to help micro and small business get up to speed on the Internet. What I’ve seen and who I’ve met so far have impressed me, and the price is definitely right for solos. check it out!