People, Events and Ideas

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I don’t completely agree with this statement but it puts into perspective where our greatest effort should be. The discussion of ideas and finding ways to take action on those ideas is the great work that has fallen on the laps (laptops?) of the billions of people who now make up the “middle class”, a term with its own baggage, according to John Robb:

It’s hard to imagine a more derogatory and less descriptive label than “middle class consumers” for the group of people that created most of the world’s massive wealth, rich technologies, and societal complexity.

The comments to John’s post have some name suggestions for the group of people who have the education and the communications tools to change society. Social media provide a way for this new “Yeoman” class to act individually and collectively for change and self-determination. An example in my network is Rob Paterson with his work in mobilizing communities on PEI and in public broadcasting. There are many other free thinkers working at the local level with a mind to the global situation. Using Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, I think that events and people are important in helping us come up with new ideas but they are merely grist for our cognitive mills.

The ideas of others, events that we watch or are involved with, and the people we meet and interact with; all provide the context for our own ideas. I believe that Ms. Roosevelt’s point was that we cannot narrow our focus to only people and events and that the true work for our minds is to develop our own ideas. Social media give us the opportunity to put forth ideas in progress and to evaluate and challenge ideas. Now that we finally have these tools, it is our duty as global citizens to use them wisely.

The feeds at the top of this diagram are mostly inputs, with varying levels of interactivity. At the bottom are outputs of knowledge work. This diagram is an evolution of my web tools for critical thinking post.

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