Night before last, I had my ITA colleagues over for dinner. We’ve been conversing for close on two years, but other than Jay, I’d met each only once: Jane, I’d met last year when she was here, and Harold and Charles I’d each met several years ago briefly. I don’t think Harold and Charles had met before.
So how was it that if felt like old friends getting together? Quite simply, the varied conversations we’d had had created something more than just intellectual convergence.
Now, you have to understand, we have pretty typically met once a week, via voice or video conferencing during that time. We also have a Skype chat we keep open and there are conversations that continue most every day. We’ve also had one on one conversations by phone when needed or wanted. We share our travels, interests, issues, concerns, and more.
This is a friendship, built virtually but still connected by all the elements that make friendships: trust, authenticity, shared concerns, and mutual goals. And, yet, we still wrestle with, and advance, our understandings of the work we’re trying to do as well. We coordinate events, and gigs, working together as well as helping one another.
I mention this to reinforce the point that real communities can be built with virtual tools. With the right emotional connections, environment, and commitment, our cognitive commitments are effectively met , and perhaps even augmented, relative to meeting face to face. Sure, we’ll have a couple of days of face to face work to take care of some stuff that we’ve been working on, but we’ve built the relationships and done useful work as well, and it will continue.
To me, that is the power that’s on tap, the offer we must seize to the benefits of our organizations, and society. We welcome you to join us.