Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The value of dissent and diverging views

The last few days have been very interesting for anyone monitoring the #smem hashtag. In a nutshell, camps have formed over whether or not to live tweet (or use any other live social networks) during exercises or not. Also, whether it's relevant to play in an open or closed loop ....

That discussion culminated with last week's #smemchat where opinions exchanged were certainly heated ones but valid points were made on both sides of the debate ...

I welcome dissent and challenges to generally-accepted practices ... those of us who have been involved in SMEM for a while don't pretend to hold the Truth as handed down from Mount Sinai ... Well, I certainly don't ... I have opinions on how best to do things and I share them freely ... but I'm also smart enough to accept new ways of thinking when they're relevant and make sense. In fact, it might be a bit early in the process of integrating social media into emergency management to talk about "best practices".

Frank exchanges of opinion, open and heated exchanges are what make things go forward, stimulate new thinking and get more people involved. In fact, collective and mass-acceptance of a single point of view can stifle that very progress. Does that mean I can't have an opinion and defend it robustly? In my view, social networks and mobile technologies have forever changed how we respond to disasters; they have democratized emergency management and made crisis communications an immediate concern for any organization when an incident occurs. Does that make me an extremist? 

I think not ...I've said many times that the people of #smem are some of the smartest folks I know ... I've learned more in the last couple of years since my online engagement began with this collective, than in the previous decade ... BUT ...I will cease to take part if I feel that respect is not at the heart of the debate on #smem and #smemchat ... I have not seen that happen yet ... I don't think we will (despite some close calls perhaps ...) because the people involved recognized the value of this tool.

So, all "extremists" welcome ... even the most neutral of centrists ... the least dogmatic and all those in between ... 

Until Friday's #smemchat (12:30 eastern time) ...


  1. to have effect one must be considered an authoritative source, authoritative as in trusted, expert and reliable.

  2. Indeed! That's exactly what people thought.

  3. As always, so very well said, Patrice.

    I do think one could talk of best practices in #SMEM, but with the very real recognition that those "best practices" will be in a constant state of evolution on a regular - perhaps daily at times... - basis for a long time to come. There will always potentially be a few basics - fundamental truths that apply to any form of human communications - but best practices will evolve with technology, its pervasiveness (or lack thereof), practices of our audiences, and innumerable other factors.

  4. The truest test of making sure people care about a topic is to inject conflict. If sides form and fights ensue then everyone truly does care.

    I think that at this time in #SMEM, this type of conflict is good. Makes the movement stronger and begins searching for answers to questions that will inevitably come up as #SMEM usage increases and becomes more common in EMAs.


  5. Excellent post, Patrice. Although still relatively new to #SMEMchat and trying to figure out the dynamics, I came extremely close to logging off last Friday. It really felt as though some were attacking others. Regardless of who was "right," if there is even such a thing, several in the group made themselves look quite unprofessional. Hope that doesn't continue.