Was talking with Joe Goldman about the uphill nature of bringing dialogue to communities and cultures that are starting to see the need for constituent input and grassroots interaction, but that may not quite be there yet. Often, some “stakeholders” like the idea and some don’t. Everyone will hear you out, but few will pull the trigger and create real engagement opportunities for citizens, employees, members.
We still see the same thing in the online world. Some groups and businesses are rushing to keep their Internet plans up to date, or to finally overhaul after years of doubt and low priority. But plenty more remain baffled, tentative or misled. And even among groups that start planning with open minds, there often turns out to be more division and ambivalence among various decision-makers than initially thought.
This tension between prospects and progress is inevitable. Joe said “We’re creating a market,” then acknowledged it’s still be hard to be certain that there is one. I told him I tend to describe it as an occupational hazard. If you’re working as a change agent, the frustration between now and the Imagined Eventual is built in. You’ve signed on to feel thwarted. Like Charlie Brown and Lucy going to a clinic for football-kicking together.
It was a cool exchange to have with Joe. Partly because it’s always great to hear that someone else understands your everyday challenges. But also because Joe sees things differently than I do. Joe pictured a market in its embryonic stages, not yet viable enough to foster widespread demand for peer-to-peer dialogue. I picture the personal reality of a dialogue practitioner, or tech consultant, mired in explanations and hopeful speculations for the umpteenth time. Joe was picturing a system. I was picturing a story. Both true, I think.