Saturday, January 29, 2011

Collaboration & Tower of Babel. Deep thinking.

With the Internet we are now connected to people living in all parts of the world. With language translators available on Google and other places we can now understand each others words.

Will this lead to future joint efforts to solve world problems? Is this possible?

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel. I'm not a Biblical scholar, so today I did some searching and came up with a web site that provides a number of articles worth reading.

This is the text from Genesis 11:1-9

"Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, 'Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.' And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.' And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, 'Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.' So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.' Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth." (Genesis 11:1-9)

I highlighted nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them because this is where I struggle in my thinking.

Everything I've been trying to do through the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Cabrini Connections is get people to learn from a common body of aggregated information and apply that understanding in efforts to make programs and services available that help poor kids grow up better prepared for lives out of poverty.

Yet while the Internet gives us access to each other and an unlimited range of ideas, it also creates a proliferation of places with their own gravitational pull, making it more and more difficult to build the critical mass of people involved in any single place.

Is this just a continuation, or 21st Century version, of The Tower of Babel Story?

I've much more learning and thinking to do on this topic. What are your thoughts? Have you tried to bring people together to solve a problem but you seem to meet with resistance in many different ways?


Karina Walker said...

I think you bring up some really interesting points about how the internet brings people together and has the power to facilitate incredible collaboration, but it also scatters people in countless directions.

This article made me think of a website I just heard of that is trying to facilitate volunteer opportunities for organizations entirely through the internet. It might be something we should look into, since T/MC has a naturally decentralized organizational structure.

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

In the library at I've been trying to build a list of sites like (which is new to me). As we do that other programs can find ways to use this and we can try to find volunteers to help us use all of them on a regular basis.

To add a link in the library just register, log in and submit the link (there is a "submit link" form at the bottom of each links library page).

It's all moderated so won't appear until approved, but it enables many people to help us build this web resource, so many more people can use it.