Aristotle may have been describing connected drainage systems when he said "water seeks its own level" but it is a perfect metaphor for the social web.

Given time and freedom from interference everything finds its level, especially our communication methods.

Things settle.

You will see an extended version of the above quote adding "and water rises collectively" attributed to Julia Cameron, the American author. Like the traditional aphorism "a rising tide lifts all boats."

But here the metaphor ends; not all boats are seaworthy, just as some forms of communication seem destined to cause more problems than they solve.

Now, more than ever, we need our communication tools to bring us together but some are doing exactly the opposite.

In a recent conversation I suddenly realised why.


One thing I've come to appreciate over the past months is that a lot of this comes down to having ownership of our words which most don't have when they throw them away on places like Twitter. I'm not talking about physical ownership but moral and philosophical.

Even when our names are attached, what is said on social networks is not always part of "our message" - despite all the talk about branding. By this I mean our personal message not a business one; it's almost like it doesn't count and the level drops.

But words connect us.

We can only define our lives and experiences in accordance with the vocabulary we own, yet all too often that vocabulary is not sufficient to completely grasp the meaning of who or where we are and what we are doing.

That's why we need the words of others and their phrasing to grant us those eureka moments; only by having what we almost know described to us in a different way do we truly understand.

It's powerful!

The right level

Email lists and newsletters have had a massive resurgence in recent years, it's almost a romantic nostalgia for the way things used to be.

Perhaps, instead of throwing away their words, it's just people finding the right level, controlling and truly owning their personal message.

We'll never recapture the web's heyday, the genie is well and truly out of the bottle, but I feel positive as long as there are people willing to try "better."