At the weekend I drafted an article, circulated a link to the draft and invited feedback from a bunch of friends in one of the groups I belong to. We had been chatting quite animatedly about something of interest to the group for a good week or more, so I tried to capture the essence of the discussion, doing my best to reflect all perspectives and express the central points.
Normally when I write stuff (such as this very blog) and circulate it asking for comment, I get next to no response. Often nothing at all. Nil. Nada. Zip. As if nobody even saw it, let alone had anything to say.
[... cue tumbleweed blowing through Gulch Creek to whistling wind ...]
This time, the exact opposite - loads of responses and plenty of interaction, almost too much in fact!
At first I put it down to the fact that a couple of outspoken friends were a little upset at some of the things I wrote in the draft which, admittedly, were a bit edgy, contentious you could say but not intentionally inflammatory. Anyway, they were evidently goaded into responding quite sharply, making their feelings clear to all. My article had lit the blue touchpaper.
So, I thought, perhaps my writing should be more contentious in general, if that's what it takes to fire up a response?
At the same time, however, several others responded in support of what I had written, with a few improvement suggestions and other comments. There followed a couple of days of to-and-fro as we kicked things around on email, while I revised the document to knock off the most pointed bits and incorporate various suggested changes. We all pulled together and the article benefited as a consequence.
That made me think about passion: everyone who had expressed an opinion was passionate about the topic, as is the group as a whole. Some were fairly emotional in their responses while most simply wanted to explain their points, dispassionately arguing for various changes, including counter-points to the two who were upset.
A few told me the incomplete, rough draft was so inspirational that they are already circulating it! What an ego-boost!
On reflection, the group members' passion for the topic is probably what sparked such as dynamic exchange, rather than contention ... or perhaps it was both, or something else entirely such as the typos in the orignal? I'm not sure.
What is clear to me, though, is that I need to make changes to how I write stuff, or what I write about, if I want to get any kind of response from the audience. It feels like I'm battling enormous intertia out there (yes, that's YOU!) and/or my stuff is being lost in the noise. We have so many streams of information coming at us from all directions, a veritable tsunami, that we can't possibly deal with it all so inevitably we are force to prioritize. The rest is consumed and disappears.
So now I'm looking for clues about how to raise the priority of information security, how to strike the spark that ignites the same level of passion that drives me to write this stuff in the first place.
Although this may be a philosophical muse, it is directly relevant to security awareness. If our awareness content is lost in the noise, we might as well not bother. You could even argue that we're adding to the tsunami - part of the problem rather than the solution.
Hmmm. Could I have expressed all this in a sentence, a tweet perhaps, a few millipictures?
Don't bother commenting on this blog. I know you've got more important things to do. Don't worry about me, I'm fine. No, really, I'll cope. Move along, nothing to see here. Next.