18 Jan 2011

Good communication is about bursting bubbles

We all live in bubbles of one sort or another. I live in a safe, progressive Sweden bubble and work in another bubble - a green, corporate responsibility, fight climate change through technology bubble.
In communications, it is important to know what bubbles you live in. You need to at least have an educated guess how your messages will play out in the big world outside your bubble.
I thought I knew this and lived it. Then I went on vacation to California.
I read a lot - and have written a little - about smart electricity meters. Here in my bubble they are wonderful things that will lead to more efficiency, lower bills and less carbon emissions. I have a picture in my mind of a futuristic European house filled with appliances talking to each other and running at all hours, making my life easy and saving me money.
This is not how smart meters are seen by many in the very liberal parts of northern California where I spent a few weeks. There are NO SMART METER signs on lots of lawns. People are getting arrested at protests, and a few local governments have banned them.
There are two main reasons. People are afraid of getting sick from the radiation, and they do not trust the utility with their private information.
Now, I would say the concerns are unfounded, but they are grounded in noble - and understandable - ideals -- good health and personal privacy.
So if I ever write or work on the subject of smart meters again, I will keep the angry signs of Sonoma County, California in mind.
And be grateful that they burst my bubble

Nathan Hegedus

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johnnostockholm said...

Did you say they are worried about radiation from smart meters? And the government spying on them through the meter? Sounds more like opposition to any sort of energy conservation because it infringes on their right to pollute and consume as much as they want. Yes, you have to take all standpoints into consideration when communicating, but do you really have to cater for the black helicopter brigade?

Pontus Staunstrup said...

I disagree with Johnostockholm, I think you have to take this very seriously. The people Nathan mentions are far too many to belong to the tin foil har brigade. If they are afraid the responsible thing to do is work really hard at getting out the facts so they can make an informed decision. Otherwise electricity companies and any other type of industry that has a stake in the Internet of things business will just have to go through this process again and again.

Nathan said...

I think what struck me is that this is all going on in what is supposedly the most progressive part of the U.S.

So, coming from there, I take it more seriously. I guess I would also say that radiation concerns are totally unfounded.

The spying part is unfounded, of course, but, again, considering the area, this tells me that more and more Americans really really do not trust corporations and the government, as if the Tea Party victories didn't before.

And that's good to know when considering the American market.