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Natural brain limits and the Twitter challenge

Posted Sep 24 2009 10:10pm

twees with tall


September 23 rd was “Twitter-intensive” for me. Mid-day I taught a great group of newer users in Berkeley. I learn at least as much as they do in these groups. I feel like a neural conduit in the global brain, downloading a bunch of big files into the system. Process, process, process. The best moment, as always, is when the energy shifts in the room: The collective mind turns toward curious investigation. Question and expressions change. We breathe.


At 5:30 I attended a WIC ( Women In Consulting ) networking meeting in San Francisco where Irene Koehler, Nancy Friedman and Cathy Curtis spoke as a panel about the whys and hows of Twitter. A lot of intelligence in the room there, 30+ women in some type of consulting business. I watched the unfolding. As I always see in my own classes, there is a spectrum of understanding and readiness for this information. People do balk at the vernacular. “ Tweet-up?” I saw one woman’s spine stiffen as she deflected yet another goofy new term. Overall, though, the panel got this group over the bridge. Applause.

How I get around

My work is brain-informed. Now that probably sounds silly, too, but I mean it in the mechanical sense. I have studied the brain since I was a kid, and follow neuroscientists along the ever-widening path of discovery. I have a capacity for translating science for laypeople, so I stay in that sandbox where I like to play and make myself useful. Peter Russell’s metaphor of the “global brain” captivated me back in 1987. And with Twitter, now, here we are. A thinking global organism. Big potential there.


But back to the human-size brain and what informs me. Being raised a practical Midwesterner (now an escapee), I like to hold on to what is rooted while waving my other arm around in a very big picture of what is possible. The mechanics of the brain are well understood and provide me with ways to comprehend our choices, our options, and our potential. This viewpoint does regularly lead me into a sense of awe. I like it there. Working directly with people keeps me connected to gritty realities, so my glowy appreciation of life is a form of balance.

Enough background. What I was reminded of yesterday which could be of value to you, dear reader, is this:

We like our corrals, our words, and normalcy

1. We are naturally limited at the brain level in our willingness (not our capacity) to reach for broader, more diverse understanding. It’s a mechanical function of the brain, human, necessary, and just fine.

2. Most of us don’t like our words being messed with. We get annoyed and we put up more boundaries. This is a 21 st Century dilemma and a playground of staggering proportion.

3. We have a mandate to play (read Dan Pink ) which is uncomfortable and confusing for lots of us. This may be the key “brain area” we have to develop to re-invent viable culture today.

4. Our ideas, beliefs and techniques of teaching (and learning) new media are very diverse. This reminds us to value differences, raise our tolerance, and become more interested in a range of communication styles.

5. Learning new media (social media, Twitter, blogging) is one of the most effective ways to expand our brains and our businesses. It’s like learning to ride a bicycle: Wobbly at first, then freeing and natural.

I’d like to thank you for reading my work. Did you know that you legitimize me? Social proof and all that? Your comments are the way I know you’re reading and taking it in, so thank you for taking that time, too.

Very best wishes,

Suzanna Stinnett

P.S. Look for Irene, Nancy, and Cathy on Twitter, and be sure to check out their blogs. Thanks again to you three and to WIC for providing a rich evening of musing and connecting.

The Berkeley “kitchen class” – next dates: October 9 th and 22 nd

Global Brain Series in Berkeley: October 8 th, 15 th, and 29 th

Contact Suzanna for more info –

Now go relax.

Sis and Dad on Lake Catherine 1961

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