Everything has a reason. Things make sense only when the reason is logical (or reasonable, if you want to play on words a little). The Sunday Read was born on Google Plus. As social networks go Google Plus was unparalleled. It brought together people of many different points of view, faiths, skills and knowledge levels and through a global “campfire” experience, for a while, managed to raise us all and enrich our inner and outer worlds.
Then everything changed. The “sundowning” of Google Plus was a signal of the changed sociotechnical landscape we are in today where Facebook is seen as the social cancer it has become. Twitter is mistrusted and virtually every other social network you could mention has become purely transactional in its value to its members.
All of which brings us to the Sunday Read, its point and why I have now decided to stop producing it. The Sunday Read was a collection of thoughts, posts, data and ideas developed on the fly, as I travelled across the globe, and enriched by the activities, posts, data and ideas of the Google Plus crowd that formed my immediate social network.
As such it was designed to be a talking point. Each Sunday, I produced a piece of writing that sparked off countless of discussions. It was an activity that allowed us to peel back the covering of our digital world and peer at the code underneath that was powered by human motivation, dreams, beliefs hopes and practices.
Over five years I missed producing the Sunday Read only once due to illness. Then Google Plus shut down. The focus shifted. It became easier to make each piece revolve around what I found exclusively important, amazing, critical or interesting. While that worked for me and I carried on producing it each Sunday until yesterday, from a conceptual point of view I felt uneasy.
The platform, I felt, gave me a pulpit. That pulpit made me a preacher. That role made me an arbiter of what was important, cool or hot. I became a funnel of attention at a time when attention itself is the key commodity of our time.
Nothing wrong with that, except, everything is wrong with that. Because I value your attention directing it to something that is my “campfire talk” seemed to me a blatant abuse of a privilege that has been generously bestowed.
Normally, I may have done nothing else than felt uneasy. I would have carried on because so many of you were still reading it. But these are not normal times. As the digital age has matured we have seen that our world holds darkness as well as light. That our beliefs count and that our actions have consequences.
In light of this the Sunday Read, as it evolved, seemed to me to be a frivolous waste of time and resources. An attention sink for both its readers and its writer. So I decided to end it. I am not going to stop writing, obviously. But there are better ways, I feel, for me to help you direct your attention to things that will of greater, direct value to you in your life in and outside work.
I feel the pressure, believe me. At the same time, I feel, this is the natural evolution of our shift away from social networks for anything beyond places where we find the odd piece of information. How we create new contacts, maintain the ones we have and establish, meaningful conversations is yet to be decided; by us.