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Dimensions of Connection
by Ray Strackbein

As a little guy, I loved to connect to people. People responded to my giggles and coos; I made friends easily and enjoyed it.  That soon changed. Connecting felt so good and hurt so bad.

I cried, as a toddler, when I saw the other two Stooges slapping Curly.  I sobbed when Dean Martin scolded Jerry Lewis. I was the one who felt the pain when Lou Costello got hurt. I cringed when Hardy poked Laurel.  Others laughed; I cried.

Dad was Navy.  We moved -- a lot.  When I was two years old, we moved into a house with two boys my age next door. I loved to play with them.  I can still remember their mom pulling a fresh carrot out of her garden, washing it off, then handing it to me. It was the sweetest carrot I ever had. 

Within a year, my family moved.  I lived in three houses before I was three years old, four houses before I was four. I became my own best friend because I was everywhere I went.  It hurt too much to make friends and then lose them.  I often wonder what happened to Katrina, the dog, or my friend, Bradley Smith.

Even children love technology.

When I was 11, my teacher assigned a project for everyone in the class -- build a crystal radio. Mine worked, and I was hooked -- addicted to electronics. Soon, I fixed neighbors' radios and TVs while other kids had paper routes or cut lawns. When I was 17, the local commercial rock-and-roll radio station hired me to be their Chief Engineer. I programmed my first computer in 1965 and built my first computer network in 1973.

    By 1980, I had built, managed, and repaired many technical systems and networks.  Broadcasting, microwave, mobile telephones, computer systems, telephone systems -- I had done it all. Then it hit me -- I had spent my life building systems for people to connect and communicate and it wasn't what I really wanted; I yearned to connect and communicate with people .  My technical skills were a surrogate for the social skills I lacked and desperately wanted.


Yet my technical skills and knowledge were far from wasted.  My career was technical communications.  I was there as new knowledge, tools, and techniques taught one machine to connect and communicate with another. I connected machines to humans and humans to each other.

Many other innovators and researchers and I taught machines to communicate by modeling the ways humans communicate. Some of the same problems that interfere with machine to machine communication interfere with human communication.  We discovered we couldn't just blast information at a computer. We lost data if we did that. We had to provide information at a rate that the computer could accept, and we were never sure how fast that was. So we taught computers to signal to us.  We taught computers to signal when they needed a pause in the data so they could digest it. We taught them to signal when they were ready for more.

    After decades of research, we now have machines that communicate with each other far more accurately than humans do.  We humans are learning from advances in technical communication. We have learned the intricacies of connecting machines.  We are now using that knowledge to improve individuals, groups, and the connections between them.

The Internet connects people.

When we think of a connection, we think of connecting me, here, to you, there. Usually this implies a space connection. I connect from where I am to where you are. I connect from my space to your space. The Internet connects people across space.

The Internet also connects people across time. I can send you an email late at night and you can read it the next morning.  I could phone you, but I don't want to wake you.  I want to connect from a time that is convenient to me to a time convenient to you.

The Internet connects people across space and time.

Ever watch the science fiction program "Sliders"?  Sliders shows people who travel across different dimensions.  They start in the San Francisco we know into a San Francisco in a parallel universe. Perhaps the other San Francisco is a matriarchal society instead of the patriarchal society we know. The program Sliders explores what San Francisco is like not only with a tradition of female mayors, but with a country where all of the Presidents have been women.  Another episode might explore a San Francisco that would exist if Russia still owned California. Are there really such other dimensions of our world?

    John Gray's book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus tells how men and women live in different worlds.  Believe me, it is not just men and women that live in different worlds. 

What does the term "generation gap" refer to?  Kids and their parents live in different worlds even though they may share the same house -- even though they can talk at each other face-to-face. Parents and children living together share the same space-time but, like Sliders, live in different dimensions. 

So, our world does have many dimensions. This is why we develop technologies to connect one dimension to another.  Businesses use email to connect a company's Research and Development dimension to its Marketing dimension. Families use cellphones to connect the parent dimension to the teen-age dimension.

We promote and expedite technical and human connection.

Connection Experts explore the many dimensions of connection.  How do businesses connect to customers? How do businesses connect to employees or vendors?  Where is the boundary between entities? Where is the boundary between a business and its employees, or are they different dimensions of the same entity? How is this different than the boundary between a business and its contract-employees?  How do you build a business, family, or culture that pulls together instead of pulling itself apart?

Where are the boundaries, where are the connections, and what are the forces at work?  How do you describe them, and how do you change them?  And how do you know if what you want to change them to will be better than what they are now?

Let us do a sanity check on your plans. We can help

Copyright © Ray Strackbein


Ray and Sally Strackbein
PO Box 710540
Herndon, VA  20171

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