Where minds meet

I have a book called Where Minds Meet by Kathleen Kelley Reardon. I must admit that I haven’t read the book properly but I like the title (but now when I googled her and found her blog, I had to bookmark it, because she has some interesting things to say – read it!). Where do minds meet? When? How? I think it’s a blessing to meet a person that I can connect with in that special way that makes me feel like our minds have meet. That is something more than just exchanging polite words.

It’s a moment of light to find that another person is thinking about subjects in a way that is similar to your own way of thinking of those subjects – similar, but not a copy. The beauty is that the other one’s thoughts fit with your own thoughts and together they can build a new, better and stronger thought.

When another person’s thoughts can help me to understand a subject better and hopefully that I can ”pay” with giving back some of my thoughts. Exchanging thoughts.

I am in the process of writing my second book and one of the things I love about writing a book is that it gives me the opportunity to get in touch with anyone to ask questions. Well, I’m writing a book, ain’t I? So, I contact a lot of different persons, sometimes I get answers, sometimes I don’t, but when I get answers it’s a happy feeling and especially when I feel like the answer is really adding a piece of important information. Then I feel very humble about the situation – someone actually allowed me to use a glimpse from their mind in my book.

At other times I find something in a book that I can use. Then I haven’t got the exclusive feeling of meeting the author’s mind, but even so, the action of writing a book is always the authors way to show a piece of her or his mind. ”Here, read it, use it” and I think most of the authors also think ”use it and make me proud”, because it’s when someone actually adopts your thoughts that your book can make a difference and when that happens, I, as an author, get proud.

The book I’m writing right now is called ”The Good Chatter in social media” or, at the moment I’m actually writing on the first edition, the Swedish edition that’s called ”Det Goda Tramset i sociala medier”. I write it together with professor Niklas Myhr who is teaching social media at Chapman University, Orange County, California. We met in the summer 2011 at Almedalen Week on Gotland. It didn’t take long until our minds connected but it took half a year until we decided to write a book. Now, a year later, we are about to finish that book. As soon as we have the Swedish version ready, we will translate it to English.

Social media is very much about getting minds to meet. I don’t think that every comment or interaction is a meeting of minds, but now and then it happens and it gives good energy. I can talk about the benefits of social media, how to get new connections, how to develop your relationships, the access to news and information, the support and so on but the most precious moments in my interactions on social media is when minds meet. The rest of the result of my investments in relationships are good and make me happy too, but I think that the reason to why I keep on being active in social media are a lot about those moments when minds meet and one thing that makes it so special is that on social media I might get that connection with my neighbor or with someone I never met face to face from another part of the world.

When that happens I also start to think about the place they live in and suddenly that place have at least one inhabitant that I know, which makes a huge difference for my perception of that place. I remember thirty years ago when I did some research in Uppsala asking people about immigrants and it was so amazing to hear how they talked about immigrants like an ”anonymous group” to which they added preconceptions. When I asked ”do you know any immigrant?” they often looked surprised and said something like ”eh, no, not really, well, I mean, I do know xxxx but he’s not really an immigrant, he’s more like a Swede…”. It was like every immigrant they thought of as someone they knew was an exception from the preconceptions about immigrants.

When you learn to know someone you replace preconceptions with individual information about that person. Until you learn to know someone from a special place or with a special interest or special job you base your evaluation on preconceptions because that’s all you got. The more we know about different persons from different places with different jobs or interests, the less preconceptions.

When I think about social media like this I feel like social media has a great potential for planting the idea of peace in people’s mind. The peace movement Israel Loves Iran is one example of how social media can be used to give people a feeling of being connected with each other across the borders. But every time you and I connect it means something too. The world gets a little bit more familiar and friendly.

What is a country now when we have Internet?

Today we live our lives not only on the physical Mother Earth, but also in the digital cyberworld where borders between the earthly countries are less important. We connect with people from anywhere in the world based on their interests or personality and even if we notice which earthly country they live in, the meaning of it has changed. Our inner images of people living in other countries change when we can see glimpses of their life on internet and recognize ourselves in them. ”She’s like me! He’s like me!”

It can’t be only me that feels a new kind of connection growing over the world, a new sense of belonging and being together, all of us (well, that is all of us who has access to internet) being cyber people or internet persons.

In this global dimension we sometimes get reminded of our earthly countries, like when some country censors the access to internet because there is a conflict between intentions. Trade has always been a great connector between people in different countries – I live in Sweden, the land of the Vikings and I know how much we have to thank the vikings for doing their brave journeys to new places. They learned about other places, they brought home both knowledge and goods. Some of them also moved to other places, like England. (Okay, lets not talk about violence in this blogpost…)

Today I can buy music, books and magazines from all over the world from my iPad and have it delivered in a few seconds. (What do you think about that mr Viking?) I can buy physical items and have them delivered to my house here on Gotland, which will take some days. I can also be the one that sells goods on Internet, if I want to. As soon as we start to trade over the borders we have to deal with the currency issue. It’s a piece of cake in most cases, because the payment solutions deals with it with us hardly noticing it. But if you want to trade globally on the internet, then currency and also taxes might become an issue that’s not so easy to solve.

Where does the transaction take place? Which taxes are applicable? And if the transaction involves not only two countries, but three or four it gets even more complicated. Wouldn’t it be nice if the internet also was a country with it’s own currency?

I found it interesting to read this article in Cult of Android, Google’s executive chairman Eric Smith says:

That businesses must be run more like countries, with diplomatic meetings and the like. He said that “the adult way to run a business is to run it more like a country. They have disputes, yet they’ve actually been able to have huge trade with each other. They’re not sending bombs at each other.”

When a company expands in ways like Apple and Google the earthly borders don’t matter in the same way as they used to, but they still matter.

So, what is a country? I checked Wikipedia. The definition begins with: A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. And it ends with: Regardless of the physical geography, in the modern internationally accepted legal definition as defined by the League of Nations in 1937 and reaffirmed by the United Nations in 1945, a resident of a country is subject to the independent exercise of legal jurisdiction.

When we buy music at iTunes, who’s exercise of legal jurisdiction are we the subject of? When we register an account at Google to start a blog like this or to participate in Google+, who’s rules do we have to follow?

Eric Smith points out an issue that will become more important over the years as our global connections via Internet will expand and establish it’s position as a natural part of our lives. Businesses must be run more like countries, yes. But what if we also need a new ”country” in cyberspace to make it easier to handle money and laws?