The Cloud Will Darken. Are We Prepared?

A Clovis point, made via pressure flakingImage via Wikipedia

The Cloud is coming. It will darken, even if passingly. An unprepared community might panic, breakup, and war among itself. Community is important to us human beings. We cannot survive well on our own. It’s possible to go it alone, but our travels only go so far that way. The transmission of our culture from generation-to-generation demands connection. Connection powers community. Sooner or later, we all need connection and live off of community. So, in the age of mass connection, do we have a bright future? Or does something dark await us?

It’s hard to say where the proliferation of social media will take us. Entropy says that the project of social media is doomed to degenerate into a mob-fest, a tyranny of ourselves against each other. Evolution via natural selection, however, indicates that successful adaptations might arise out of the chaos. Who knows for sure how mass connection will evolve?


If we are to get mass connection right, there are certain key ingredients we need to mind. Getting these right isn’t sufficient, of course, but they probably are necessary. Here are some off-the-cuff factors we’ll need to work out:

  1. Reinforcing in our youth the importance of integrity, discipline and focus in using social media
  2. Ensuring adequate security, accountability and reliability of what we put into the Cloud
  3. Considering the consequences of how we use social media
  4. Establishing a workable solution to the problem of online identity
  5. Solving the problem of abundance of data versus scarcity of meaning
  6. Maintaining awareness of our relationship with technology

There are many more things for our social media projects to get right. We’ll need to grow the list.


The Cloud will probably darken one day. What happens when all of our fluid data enters the Cloud and spins into a virtual hurricane of informational torrents? We could be living in an informational tyranny: a rivalry of ourselves against each other.

There are many bright prospects to our increasing adoption of social media tools. Friends and businesses can keep in touch; share experiences and discoveries; and enhance their relationships. Strangers can meet and exchange ideas, maybe develop personal and professional relationships.

All of our electronic interactions, however, are through media not around them. We aren’t really interacting with each other, are we? We are entering a new kind of relationship with technology. Our online interaction with each other is illusory (a useful illusion perhaps). It’s this more seamless, often hidden, relationship with the technology we develop and adopt into our lives which perhaps poses one of the greatest threats mass connection poses.


Paradoxically, we aren’t interfacing with each other as much as with the technology which connects us. What’s generally true of our primal behaviors between each other is simultaneously diminished and augmented through the technologies we are adopting.

The technologies of social media can amplify our mutual anger. When we get angry at each other, we don’t consider the technology. Perhaps we need to learn how to be mindful of our relationship with technology. If we can acquire that understanding we have a chance of surviving the storm clouds.

It’s not all doom and gloom. I’m hopeful that sunny days are ahead. I’m also pretty sure that the Cloud, however it forms, will darken. Whether it will darken by the command of a few cunning manipulators or through the lure of our own mimetic desires depends on the adequacy of our preparation.

What am I missing? Do you think we’re prepared? Can we even be prepared?

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An Open Letter to (Some) Nursing Education Faculty

Dear Nursing Faculty Around The World:

First, I’d like to thank you for devoting your time to advancing the nursing profession and passing along your knowledge to the next generation of nurses. You probably don’t get much public recognition for the work you do. I wish you did. Maybe that will change (read on).

In scanning around web, I’ve noticed lately that many nursing students are frustrated, disappointed and angry with the way they are treated in nursing school. If you honestly care about the future of the nursing profession, then you aught to determine if there’s anything you need to change about your approach.

I attended an accelerated program and my peers already had bachelors degrees. I am grateful for what the teachers did for my education. I detested most of the ridiculous and outdated approaches some of the faculty embraced, but I got what I wanted out of the whole experience. I am grateful for what the faculty did for me.

But I also had the chance back then to observe some of the behaviors of the nursing instructors. Frankly, I was disappointed in what I witnessed. The way some clinical instructors behaved toward their students was inappropriate, abusive and counterproductive. Nursing schools are going to have to put an end to these behaviors.

Having spent a few years in bedside nursing, I realized that the health care profession seems to have a higher proportion of unhealthy and harmful personalities. Most of the profession is composed of remarkable people. The bad apples, though, are spoiling the entire industry.

I suspect that the intra-professional abuse that happens stems from the need to take patient care seriously. It should be serious business: life is at stake. Using that premise as a pretext for displacing anger has no place in the health care setting. It’s dangerous: life is at stake. Berating your students or peers does nothing to help patients.

So to those of you who might be abusing your students: stop it. For those of who run nursing education facilities: do your part to stop the emotional violence. We’re losing the war in nursing and physician recruitment. In an age when one person can reach millions within minutes, you no longer can turn a blind eye to the problem.

Please think about the impact your behavior has on nursing students. If you were mistreated by crotchety nurses during your education, please don’t replicate that misfortune on people who don’t deserve it. If you do that then you are ruining the most important profession in the world.

Here are some practical tips for being a better nursing instructor:

  1. Understand that making mistakes is essential in learning well
  2. Appreciate your students’ inexperience
  3. Accept the diversity of your audience
  4. Never humiliate your students
  5. Lead your students as if they were the last hope for the profession
  6. Find a good therapist
  7. Don’t take it all so seriously
  8. Know the difference between constructive feedback and destructive emotionalism
  9. Learn to turn the most difficult students into remarkable opportunities for education innovation
  10. Elicit the help of your peers and school leadership during difficult times

We don’t have much time left to rescue the health care industry from the its eventual demise. Word is now getting out about how nurses and nursing students are treated. Bad news travels so much faster than good news.

If you don’t ensure that nursing school is a safe, effective and remarkable environment to cultivate, socialize and encourage the best and brightest minds to enter the nursing profession, history will hate you.

It’s no longer the 20th Century. Mass communication is giving way to mass connection. Nurses, and nursing students, are growing networks, establishing on-line presences and constructing novel ways to distribute ideas around the world. It’s becoming harder to conceal long-silenced wrong-doing in institutions.

Think about what I’m telling you. I love our profession, but I’m disappointed in how some people in this industry can treat each other. Nursing school is a large part of the problems we now face. You are at the center of something that could be remarkable. Please don’t rip out your place in history.

It’s your choice: continue an archaic cycle of abuse or create a remarkable future for the health care of every child, woman and man on the planet.


Phil Baumann, RN BSN (whatever that means)

Stumble It!

The Paradox of Not Voting in the 2008 Election

I’m not head-over-heels about any of the four candidates from either the Democratic or Republican party for the 2008 Presidential election. I wish I was. I admire the intelligence, oratory prowess and campaigning skills of one of them, but that’s about it. When you become apathetic about the direction of your democracy, what should you do about your voting privileges? If you vote, you vote for candidates you don’t want to vote for. If you don’t vote, your acquiescence gives permission for things to continue. On the surface, it’s a paradox. But there’s a fallacy in this paradox. Let me explain.

In a democracy, each citizen possesses enforceable rights to use reason, to speak mindfully, to assemble and act peacefully to promote ideas, passions and goals. Democracy abhors apathy and eventually punishes an apathetic citizenry with tyranny. It’s important that reasonable voices call and that responsible minds answer.

The paradox I face is not a paradox of democracy. It’s a fault of mine. I spectate, not participate, in the political process. I don’t often enough correspond with my local, regional and national representatives. I don’t publish my political thoughts sufficiently. My apathy may be justifiably rooted in my country’s disappointing addiction to gossip, quick-fixes, appeals to emotion, blame and rivalry for its own corrupting pleasure. But it’s my apathy. I have given permission to a system which rewards bile and punishes reason.

In my choice to become apathetic, I have committed something far worse than a crime: I have committed what Talleyrand would call a blunder. Sadly, I’m not the only one who has committed this blunder. We who have chosen to just let a botched political process continue to demolish this precious refuge for tranquility and peace must awaken from the sleep of our blundering. Our Republic, which was founded upon reason and common sense, is faltering. It can only be rescued by reason, skepticism, wise passion and deep love.

I have no party to honestly respect. I feel like my choices have become stretched between the derangement of Creationist Homophobes and Socialist Atheists. The former are heretics bearing false witness against the One. The latter are fanatical know-it-alls who protrude their agnosis with the impotent omniscience of arrogance. At times, I feel terrified of the future: the apocalyptical projections of each side against the other just might be made manifest.

I know there are reasonable people out there. I know there are people who might be pro-life but are willing to appreciate the reasons for why someone else is pro-choice, and vice versa. There might not be many, but surely there must be some, right? How do you argue against someone if you don’t even understand why they think what they think?

I know there are Americans who love our country, who love the meanings we ascribe to our Constitution, who understand the critical but narrow filter of reason, logic and conscience among a world of confusion, superstition and evil. I don’t hear their voices much. Perhaps I’m not listening hard enough, or my apathy has me tuning out so much of the noise that I don’t hear the music.

I love this country. (I believe in America, as Bonasera put it.) I love that I can speak my mind. I love that I can criticize policy without being taken off to jail (although that dystopia seems closer at hand). I love, I love, I love what we could be. I love that we have a chance to be more grand and civil than Rome, to be far more democratic than ancient Greece, to build monuments which could shame ancient Egypt.

I love that we turned the other cheek against terrorist states after World War II to break a thousands-year tradition of vengence after every single war before that horrifying time. I love that because our acts put us above the hatred poured forth by our criminally psychopathic enemies. We halted a world-threatening cycle at that moment in our history. That took guts, wisdom, vision and reason. What have we done with that hard-fought asset?

I am so sorry that I’ve turned my back on our political system. I am so sorry I haven’t written my representatives lately. I am sorry for not speaking my mind at important points in our history. I am so sorry it hurts.

I want to escape this paradox I put myself in. It won’t be easy. I need to plan a prison break.

Maybe you can help me piece together my prison break. Here’s a part of my plan so far:

  1. Read Common Sense by Thomas Paine
  2. Read our Constitution and all of its ammendments
  3. Write (email, Twitter?) my local, regional, national representatives (who’s on Twitter? – Twitter me with some user names, please!)
  4. Come to understand ideas and opinions which I oppose
  5. Reach out to others who aren’t afraid to wear their enemies’ hats
  6. Enjoy more political humor

My name is Phil Baumann. I am a politically apathetic American in love with a brilliant set of ideas. I might not save the Republic, but I can at least ask for help in rescuing it from the tyrranies of ignorance, hatred, tribalism, bitterness, cynicism and Schadenfreude. Will you help me?

Stumble It!