Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lean-back vs. lean-forward information

Great post yesterday on Mark Cuban's Blog Maverick that shows how the web has changed, and continues to change. A sample:

[T]here really is no reason to know anything but what is right in front of you. If you put your virtual self in enough networks, facebook, myspace, twitter, wherever, someone is going to ping you with "the latest".

We always talk about entertainment on the net and on tv as being different because TV is lean back, and internet is lean forward. It looks like information distribution has become delineated in the same way.

In this day and age, there are the things we are specifically interested in. The groups we "lean forward" and join, whether they are message boards, social networking groups, or websites we bookmark and visit, the tv shows we watch or DVR. Then there is everything else , which we trust will find us. The lean back information.
The question is, by relying primarily upon sources we know--whether people or channels--will we increasingly shut ourselves off from the possibility of meeting and learning from new sources? And how do we continue to maximize our access to sources that can teach us about what we might or should be interested in, but otherwise wouldn't discover?

Jon over at The Good City (a participant in yesterday's YLNI Leadership Institute session) has a related post on how to open yourself up to new sources:
Whether out of fear or out of selfishness, Americans have created a culture in which we may meet only those people we choose to meet. We have less and less incidental contact with those around us.
We have more tools than ever before to help us lean both forward and back. The key is to do both so we can learn more about the topics that interest us, while not shutting ourselves off from the rest of the world.

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