Network Leap 3

Most people don’t see it.

Confusing the primacy of what we can see, touch, taste, and feel, closes our human perceptions to the potential financial and monetary value of what we cannot measure and codify with our five senses.

This is evident in the primacy of the use of relationship networks in every aspect of our lives.

We cannot touch connection, though we can experience a story with other people.

We cannot see engagement, though we can engage in active listening and experience the positive effects of someone listening to us intently, and the negative effects of someone ignoring us.

We cannot see the value in a relationship, but we can feel with our hands and our emotions the ways in which people grow in relationship transactionally with us.

We cannot see the cruft, bad feelings, negative emotions, and life experiences where the relationship didn’t “work out” as transactionally as we would like, which often creates in us a sense of caution at getting back into relationships and connections.

We have all observed the causal outcomes of the impact of things we can’t see (relationships) and have experienced the power in maintaining and growing connections (networks) to people who may—or may not—be able to “help” us advance in the world.

We all know someone who has gotten a cake job, attained a plum position, or moved up the ladder of an organization, not through technical skills, but through the value of human connection.

Most people don’t see it.

We cannot directly observe the functions of the Internet.

We cannot directly observe how information spreads through bits and bytes and is translated into images, text, and videos.

We cannot directly observe how those videos, texts, and images impact the mind and change the perceptions of the receiver of those messages, but we all accept the reality of these changes happening.

We cannot see how searching for information on the Internet, using a tool such as Google, unites us as disparate people in a communal desire to connect, engage, and to grow our interests, our curiosities, our agreements, and our arguments.

Most people don’t see it.

But Google does.

Think about it: Google as a search engine tool proves—in a form monetized at enormous scale—that the networks of connections matter more for making money, making more connections, making products, making ideas, and making services than anything else tried in human history up to this point.

But there’s an upper limit to that knowledge.

Trapped by the confines of the box in your pocket (i.e. your mobile phone) or the box in your house (i.e. your TV or desktop computer) or the box in your briefcase (i.e. your tablet), there’s a hardware limit to a software solution.

There might not be a software solution to the problems that people have, but in the 21st century, Google (now Alphabet) is going to do its level best to break out of the boxes it is currently trapped in, and prove that networks between people in the physical world, can be scaled and monetized just as easily as they were through a search function.

Google sees it.

Do you?

You Were Already Angry Before the Internet Came Along

When people talked with each other across the fences in the backyard, they knew (with some certainty, though certainly not ontological certainty) which of their neighbors were angry and which were pleasant.

The bowling league, the local bar, the country club, and even the grocery store served as locations that allowed people to bump into each other in ways both random and purposeful, and to take each other’s’ temperature about the news of the day.

There were opportunities for thought leaders, opinion makers, and public intellectuals to educate the public about what they believed, and because first the Church, and then the government, and then the corporations acted as gatekeepers, democracy of thought and passion was tamped down successfully enough.

If you were an individual looking to step out from the shadow of conformity and the comfort of the crowd, there were few venues that existed for you to walk out those minority viewpoints, and the gatekeepers of the majority existed primarily to ensure that the minority was never heard from.

Or at least, rarely heard from.

Fighting for a minority belief against a seemingly overwhelming power structure became sauce for the cooking of the goose of ideas, and passions, and sometimes, those ideas broke through the dominant culture, leaped over the gatekeepers and struck a chord with millions of people.

In the 4th great human revolution, the one being driven by a global communication channel known as the Internet, the gatekeepers have little power to police, minority voices and viewpoints can connect with each other and influence like never before, and you know how angry your neighbor is, because she tweeted out a passionate comment last week and it popped up in your feed.

Here’s the thing that we forget, in light of the technological show being put on by the Internet now:

Your neighbor was always angry and disgruntled about the way that the world fundamentally worked.

There were always minority viewpoints in the culture, looking for connection, engagement, and searching for meaning against a dominant culture that was perceived as arrogant, conformist and overbearing.

The bowling league, the local bar, the country club, and even the grocery store have been replaced first by chat rooms, and now by the “impermanent” web, and will be replaced further by whatever comes next.

Since the magnification of a problem is not the same as the problem’s ‘root cause,’ it should come as no surprise to us that people are at the root of our angry, passionate, loud discourse, on an open, democratic and connecting tool.

We all can now say, due to the overwhelming evidence and with almost ontological certainty, that if we fix the people the tool will magically change.

[Advice] Fights of Fancy

The world inside rules the world outside.

One of the terrible functions of the last half-century has been the rise in the perception of people, both at the individual level and at the group level, as purely economic actors.

When viewed this way, people’s reactions and behaviors (and even group reactions and behaviors) are chalked up to science or economics.

People are perceived as rational actors, realizing that they are in a play called life, full of sound and fury, but ultimately signifying nothing.

Oh, but were this so.

The fact is, conflicts, disputes, disagreements, and more are worked out in the inner life between our two ears, in much more complex ways than economics or scientific analysis can determine. This happens long before they spill out of the container of ourselves and begin their impact on others.

The fights we have are of fancy: Trapped inside our own experiences, we struggle to get out, to escape, and to connect with others.

The very act of escaping from ourselves creates an internal conflict inside ourselves. And as our technology has become more granular, able to connect people at the surface level, across cultures, and even national borders, we have become blinded and less connected to the inner drives of other people.

The tools we have designed can be used to connect, but only if vulnerability, self-awareness, and introspection are built into the tools themselves.

And those traits aren’t built into the tools because they escape the notice of the builder. Primarily because of the inner life of the builder.

A clock with a clock maker.

The world inside rules the world outside.

The reasons why we have abandoned the exploration of the inner self are many, but the reason that we have abandoned even attempting to understand the depths of the inner world that drive conflict is one: We are afraid of what we will find and we are selfish in our interests.

The work of radical self-awareness, intentionality, empathy over sympathy, true vulnerability and intimacy with others cannot come through connecting through our tools.

We must escape the world inside (both ourselves and our digital distractions) and get to the world outside.

Network Leap

The deep revelation of the revolution called the Internet, is that it continues to demonstrate that networks are the most valuable resource that an individual, a corporation, or a government possesses in order to leverage innovation, change, and advancement.

Of course, during the height of the Industrial Revolution last century, no one understood how to measure the revenue generated by any kind of network (personal or professional), but everyone knew somebody who had gotten hired via a referral, or who had made a purchase from strong word-of-mouth.

The Internet shows the power of such networks virtually (have you bought an online course lately?) even as it erodes the networks between people in the “real” world.

This is a particularly troubling realization for organizations built at scale, i.e. “real world” companies, from old line manufacturers (Ford) to healthcare companies (name your national hospital conglomerate of choice here).

The fact that a network matters more than physical size, monetary resources, access, etc., on the Internet is the main reason why corporate mergers (i.e. AT&T + Every Other Media Company You Can Name on the Planet) won’t do much to increase the overall market share of individual eyeballs and mass audience attention. The mass approach doesn’t work (because of the network impact of the Long Tail) and such mergers are the flailing attempts of declining industries to remain relevant in the face of the only thing that scales from individual to individual.

The web of the network.

Some sectors are provincially beginning to understand the impact of the presence of the network in the physical world, with the growing talk around the Internet-of-Things. But this is just the beginning.

The fact that the presence of the network matters more than the size of the network, is why Google will eventually get out of the search business altogether (probably around the middle of this century or so) and be the first Internet based company to burst from your computer or mobile phone application, out into the physical world.

Search matters less and less when the network matters more and more to accomplishing revenue, connection and growth goals at scale. Sure, Facebook may “win” the networking wars against search in their own little walled garden, but Google is planning on escaping to larger territories in the physical world where the presence of a network generates more revenues, because of the inability and myopia of Industrial Revolution based organizations to appreciate the impact of a network at scale.

These larger territories where networks aren’t as valued (yet) include the physical connectivity infrastructure of a city (Google Fiber), the physical place where individuals spend time commuting to work (Google Car) and the place where individuals spend the time connecting with others physically AND virtually (Google A.I. projects).

The fact that the network matters more than the technology facilitating the development of the network, is why virtual reality companies (Oculus Rift) and augmented reality games (Pokemon Go!) will be on the edges of individuals’ and companies’ radars for some time to come. The real “killer” app for both virtual reality and augmented reality technology will be the one that brings connectivity and an already established network into the new technology. And then pivots to connect that network to a larger, physical world.

For companies that can’t envision the leap to network based thinking (but who have executives and others on their cell phones texting, emailing, messaging, and otherwise building their virtual network constantly) here are a few suggestions:

Build the physical network between schools, industry, and government in your local town, or municipality. There is nothing less sexy or interesting than sitting at a table talking about how things were better economically in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, but that lament must be part of a larger discussion of expanding the web and the network using the same thinking and acting that individuals are doing virtually daily.

Realize that money is no object. Money is a story. Fear of change and resistance to the present reality and the future possibility are the objects. Recently the question came up in a workshop with an organization in transition “How do ‘crack’ the Resistance?” One way is to build trust. The other way is to change the thinking of the organization around what constitutes a “revenue generating” activity, and what does not.

Realize that there isn’t power in hoarding knowledge, access, or a carefully constructed network anymore. There isn’t power in hoarding money anymore (no matter how much cash on the balance sheets the Fortune 500 is hoarding). There isn’t even power in hoarding connections to politicians, power-brokers, or personalities anymore. The power is in sharing, reciprocity and building trust across boundaries, rather than busily building moats.

Or walls.

The full power of the Internet—in its ability to shape how humans build, how humans communicate, and how humans create network value—has yet to be fully explored.

We are at the beginning of a revolution.

HIT Piece 9.13.2016: Facebook-as-the-Internet

You are probably going to read this post by clicking on a link from Facebook, if you read this at all.

More likely than not, you won’t read this if you see it posted on LinkedIn (it seems too arduous to click on an article, thus the increase of click-bait recently on the platform).

If you happen to see the link to the blog post on Twitter (I didn’t pay for it to trend, nor do I have enough heft to cut through the constant firehose of information on the platform) you most likely won’t read it either.

These three platforms (along with Google) have created an environment of ease of access, shareability of information, and have grown through social proofing (“Everybody else is there, so I must be there as well”) that their influence as media companies is now being seriously discussed by media companies still around from the 20th century.

This leads to three problems, beyond the obvious ones though:

  1. There are biases evident in both the algorithms that run these platforms (as usual, computer models and programs are created by human beings, and human beings have biases) but that phenomenon is compounded by the fact that the people using the platform the most have their own biases. The real struggle is not to get more human curators to do the work of curating that an algorithm is programmed to do. The real struggle for both human curators and the human programmed algorithms running in the background of these platforms, is to educate and inform the audience using the platforms in spite of their biases.
  2. Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pintrest, Snapchat, and on and on, are not the Internet. They are applications built atop the Internet. By only accessing information through these silos (the search engine Duck Duck Go actually gives better results than Google) the “lock-in” effect gets deeper and deeper in the person doing the search. This can be a positive. But it can also create myopia, willful ignorance, and a lack of curiosity about the world outside of these platforms.
  3. In the future, the social media and information communication platforms built on top of the Internet will become more fractured, not less. This is the reaction/response to the first two problems, and to solving the problem inherent in the sentence that opened this post. Eventually, more and more niche audiences, being less and less served by the platforms built at “mass” (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, will seek information out on the long-tail of options. There will be some reverting back to what came before social media (i.e. chatrooms, discussion boards, email listservs (I’m on two or three) and other tools) but eventually, niche audiences will seek access to their own silos outside the megaphone of established social media platforms.

Note, I did not say that these platforms would be profitable, popular to the masses, or easy for outsiders to integrate to and use. Reddit is already like this to some degree in its resistance to monetization, its relative openness, and its vain efforts to curtail its core users’ language and political preferences.

But as every woman seeks the promise behind being her own information queen, the seduction inherent in getting away from Facebook-as-the-Internet will grow in popularity and promise.

[Podcast] Earbud_U, Season Four, Episode #1 – Chris Strub

[Podcast] Earbud_U, Season Four, Episode # 1 – Chris Strub, Social Media Engager and Connector, Part 2

[Podcast] Earbud_U, Season Four, Episode #1 – Chris Strub


Welcome back to the fourth season of The Earbud_U Podcast!

The nostalgia for the perceived security and safety of the Industrial-TV complex dominated world of work and human interaction, is almost deafening.

The nostalgia mostly comes in the form of complaints about the work ethic of the current generation by a generation feeling left behind, and discounted.

Our guest today, Chris Strub is back from the second season of The Earbud_U Podcast. He defines putting in the work and redefining what the new work ethic is, by building a new way of working, using tools that allow him to grow his impact, and actively demonstrate the changing nature of the work ethic conversation.

When work ethic (or nostalgia for an imagined time in the past when people worked “harder” than they do now) is discussed, it’s often framed in the context of “paying your dues.” That mythical state of working hard, being unnoticeable (except for the work that you do), making no demands upon the work structure, and showing appropriate deference to the life experience of people older than you.

In a communication world with digital tools that are reshaping everything from shopping to working globally, “paying your dues” can begin at the age of 15 doing things that

  • Don’t scale
  • Will not appear on a resume
  • That an employer will never know about
  • And will bring the person passive income that can be leveraged after ten years…at the age of 25.

You know, at the moment when the “you should be ‘paying your dues’” conversation begins to happen, directed by superiors, co-workers, and others who didn’t have the digital tools that the 15 to 34 year olds have at their disposal right now.

Work ethic still exists. We just haven’t figured out a new way to calculate its value.

Listen to the podcast and take the multiple opportunities out there to connect with Chris today:

[Advice] Broadcasting, Sharing, and Interacting

There are subtle differences between broadcasting, sharing, and interacting in any conflict scenario.

Broadcasting is what live streaming and most posting on social media is about. Broadcasting is an act that—by itself without more thought behind it—is deeply selfish and desirous of attention for its mere existence. Broadcasting a suicide attempt, or broadcasting a cat video, fall into this same category.

Sharing is what much of blogging, email newsletter creation, and some social posting is about. Sharing is an act that—by itself without more thought behind it—begins a collaborative communication process between a creator and their audience. The audience can be a Dunbar’s Number of close friends, or it can be an audience of a few thousand “followers” but sharing is about skimming the top of a building a collaborative relationship.

Interacting is what broadcasting, plus sharing, plus intentionality, is about. Interacting involves going past merely acting to prove the existence of a product, service, philosophy, or process, and goes directly to creating for an audience and their desires. Interacting means engaging actively with everyone in the audience (even those people we’d rather not engage with) and is the penultimate act of courage.

In a conflict, broadcasting is the equivalent of telling a story about your conflict repeatedly, in order to create separation between “us” and “them.”

In a conflict, sharing is the equivalent of attending training and hoping that you remember one thing that you can apply afterward.

In a conflict, interacting is the equivalent of going beyond telling your story and attending training, and taking the time and effort to personally engage with personal development around your responses and reactions to conflicts in your life.

Broadcasting, sharing and interacting are happening at all levels in our society; and, our digital tools have provided us with the ease of communicating faster and faster. But this also means that our responses to conflicts in our lives become more shallow and immediate, even as the reactions cut us emotionally at a deeper and deeper level.


[Opinion] Another “Uber of ‘X'” is not the Solution to Our Problems

“Uber of X” is not the solution to many of our problems with spreading, monetizing and deeeping the significance and reach of the Web.


One of the areas that demonstrates the lack of human imagination in developing the Internet for the service of people rather than in the service of commerce, is the human desire for the tool of the Web to work in service of leisure, consumption, marketing, entertainment and distraction. This desire, evidenced through the apps, tools and services we have designed and laid on top of it, caters to our base human desire for ease of solution, without being bothered by the intricacies and complexities of the chaos and complication, network growth brings.

Our tools–particularly our communication tools–should stand as objects that raise us up out of the muck of our inter/intrapersonal conflict biology and serve a Higher Purpose and our higher selves.

Another social media network isn’t going to do that.

Another selling, promotion or entertainment platform isn’t going to do it.

Any application, change or build atop the Web we have now, pitched and described to potential investors as “The “Uber of ‘X’” isn’t going to do that either.

But, maybe the Web in its voracious expansion out of the corral of the digital/virtual world and into the desert of the lived real, will never become the edifying, higher purpose technology we all thought it would be in the 90’s—maybe it’ll never be more than a glorified telephone/television system.

In the sci-fi dystopian novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, the citizens of a reality, not far removed from our current one, have limited choices outside of consuming, learning, and entertaining themselves in an elaborately constructed virtual world. Meanwhile, in the real world, people line up to enter the virtual world in a zombie like, Walking Dead, fashion, as the means of commerce and creation have abandoned the old, real world leaving it to rot and die on the vine.

We are at the beginning stages of this transformation of our world.

But only if we don’t try to challenge the inherent assumptions, expectations and disappointments around the architecture of what we have built atop the Web we have now. These challenges  must push us beyond socializing and commerce and move humanity toward transformation and edification.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

[Opinion] Getting Out of the Ghetto

Human civilization doesn’t need another social network.

3 Easy Pieces

It is a sign of the limits of our present level of creativity and value addition, that the top websites on the Internet right now, tend to be ones that are focused around two areas:

Sharing, collecting and curating information to a wide sphere of government officials, corporations, communities and individuals, who have their own motives and desires.

Shopping and engaging in commerce for the express purpose of either paid consumption of products and services ( or free consumption of products and services (anything in the Google family).

Shopping and sharing dominate the internet, and thus create values in the stock market, because the first generation of totally Internet savvy entrepreneurs, visionaries, creatives and others has not yet come of age.

The current crop of adults (those 21-64) creating the Internet realities with which we all live, are digital immigrants, trapped in the ghettos of their own making—walled gardens of apps, physical mobile technology and bandwidth controlled by companies built on the old, Industrial Revolution models of corporate formation.

But, there is a future coming where the digital immigrants will be left behind. The true digital natives, who will live their entire lives of communication, education, entertainment, consumption and creation in the digital space have yet to come of age.

When they do, they will leave the walled gardens and ghettos that appear so shiny to all of us now, because we lack the imagination—and the courage—to head West into the vast space of the Internet and pioneer something different.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

[Podcast] Virtual Ghettos – The Earbud_U Minute

Ghettos are popping up all over the virtual place.

In the physical world, the ghetto began as a way to segregate Jewish populations from other populations in Italy and all throughout the rest of Europe.  Then, if Wikipedia is to be believed, ghettos came to the US, first as a way to segregate the Irish and Italian immigrants, then as a way to separate African Americans from predominantly White populations.

With that in mind, look down at the screen of your smartphone. How many apps do you have?

How many different neighborhoods, or ghettos, do they represent?

In the virtual space of the Internet, information may want to be free, but people apparently want to be crowded into virtual cities and neighborhoods—with all of the separation, regulation and virtual social norming as informal policy.

As we innovate further—and as digital natives move further and further away from the ghettos that digital immigrants seem comfortable in—the question we must ask ourselves is: Which comes first, the regulation or the innovation?

We have to figure this out as a global culture, because physical ghettos lead not only to segregation, biases and prejudices (which may prove to be minor annoyances in the virtual space) but also to poverty, lack of access to resources and reduced opportunity (which may prove to be even more damaging in the virtual space that in the physical world).

Conflicts between those in the virtual ghettos, those in the virtual suburbs and those on the virtual frontier need to be addressed by people who have experience with emotional intelligence, active listening and strong facilitation ability.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: