Friday, February 25, 2011

Information Society—What’s On Your Mind?

"I want to know what you're thinking" is the riff we all remember from the song—that and the Leonard Nemoy sample.

This posting isn't about that 80's band at all. It's about the society we live in. We live in the information society.

I was just told by a friend, that some people I respect have recently made comments about bloggers, those on twitter, and people on facebook. It was directed toward the garden community, or I should say the garden social network community.

The gist of the comments was about gardeners who blog are misinformed and misinformants. The implication was that those blogging are putting personal experience out as fact that is really opinion. These tribal elders expressed knowledge shared on social networking sites was unreliable at best and just a din of words. Theses elders went on to say that those blogging about gardening should be citing at least three credible sources for each nuggets of information they impart. All this to put something out into the interverse that is more of an opinion than a cited piece of published work?

I am a gardener. Let me restate that: I have a strong passion in horticulture and enjoy growing everything that I can get my hands on. I have a passion. Or is it I have the passion?

I love to exchange information. I love art, music, seed planting, propagation, selling plants, Victorian homes, cocktails, cooking, growing food, collecting, movies, and good times with friends. Oh, I also forgot I hope for world peace and enjoy riding rollercoasters—just kidding on the last two. I love to exchanging information with other people.

Almost all of us are passionate about one thing or another. If we are on twitter we tweet. On facebook we post. We are looking for those who share our ideas and opinions. We join groups and look for those of like mind. We share, we pontificate, we let others know that we killed that frickin' plant 3 times and yes, oh lord yes, we are going to buy yet another plant to kill!

Back to the center ring of my circus.

I do not see these tribal elders as sitting high upon mount Hortensis, listening to tracks from the latest performance of Chorus of the Goddess Flora and Deadheading Society. I do not see them as noted scholars that dole out dew drops of wisdom from their sanctuaried towers. These demigods are not allowing the seed of sharing to take hold and root deep within the rich loam, that is not their style.

These misguided and misinformed scholars are people who have not thoroughly explored social networking. Yes, they are on facebook. One of them does not know how to add a profile picture. The group as a whole does not post much, if at all.

Let's call this group the old guard. They have rather outdated concepts. Maybe they believe that garden information only comes from books, gleaned from academia, or belonging to an organization? Maybe you have to read about it in that why Horticulture magazine is waning? Is that why publishers aren't making deals with noted professionals within the garden community? I hear a few bloggers have some book deals in the making at reputable publishing houses.

What I can't believe is that gardeners attending the lecture actually sat there in the audience and let the tribal elders disparage what is the new movement for the flow of information? My friend commented the talk would have been better with a glass of wine. Does that tell you something? The panel of speakers should have had more than just a glass of wine. Maybe they would have relaxed and sounded less threatened by a world they know not.

I am not going to name names. What I am going to say is that the people on the panel made themselves look outdated. They appeared to have a narrow and limited view of the garden world, and the people who make up this global garden community.

I feel more liberated being part of a social network. I am not judged because I am not wearing the correct outfit or using the $100 pair of garden pruners. I do not feel excluded. Most of us don't.

I commented to my friend who enlightened me about this event. "This is truly amazing, I have probably passed you a few times as you have worked at this nursery or that. I am a type of shopper that likes to left alone and I will ask if I need help. But because of facebook, and learning more what is going on in your mind, what you groove on by what you post in word or picture." I have learned volumes about my friend. I have gone plant shopping with her, I cheer her on. We have discovered we share opinions on things. Something I would have never discovered if not for social networking.

Let me break this down.

Twitter to me is like a stream of consciousness, 17 layers of conversation with links to blog posting, articles, ideas, pictures and more.

Facebook is a tad slower, but you can say more. It isn't static like my website, just slower. There is improvement with groups now. I am connecting with micro communities and special interest groups.

Both social networks are multilayered and have strong undercurrents. Both are global.

I feel great that I am there to say hello to someone in England one second, a friend in the Eastern United States the next and read a posting by another person in Australia, France, or Japan. Could you do this 5 years ago? 10 years ago?

I have a strong feeling that the people on the panel will not read my blog. They don't really blog. They will not see this as I post a link onto twitter waiting for individuals such as @Mr.BrownThumb, @DirtandMartinis, @Arcadia1, @oregonclematis, @GreenSoil, @BG_garden to respond or retweet the link.

The tribal elders need to change with times. Gardeners are going forward into the bloggisphere. This is not about academia but about conversation. It's about swapping stories over the virtual fencepost.


  1. The old guard is threatened because they must now compete with information coming from cyberspace. I don't believe that these tribal elders are capable of changing with the times. It is not their style to do so.

    They have built their reputations on their own brand of garden gospel that is quickly contradicted as new trends in thoughts, and ideas take hold. Also, they used to earn their reputations from a gardening society that has disappeared and they are unable to handle the speed at which contemporary garden philosophies keep morphing into newer ones.

  2. I think the old guard is on their last gasp. They can no longer exert as much as gate-keepers (and primadonnas), though that still happens online...but much less. Yet they lash out as their last resort.

    That is sad you heard what you did at that talk, but where I live, a few provincial has-beens still influence big-time. Surprisingly, more than one is known as a "promoter" of native plant, xeriscape and all things progressive. Actually not, they are more hinderances to good.

    But they shall soon pass, the harder we work and learn. And without us having to do much but persist, exposing bad and exposing good even more.