Over at our National Writing Project iAnthology space, this week’s writing prompt (we write every week there) asks us to consider what we would say if we were giving a commencement speech. I decided to add a little humor, and cultural references, to mine even as I thought seriously about what I would say in that situation.
You can listen to my podcast of what I wrote, too.
First of all, thank you for letting my holographic image speak to you today. I was busy elsewhere, and I figured, if Tupac could do it, so could I, right? You all know what I’m talking about. Your parents? Probably not. I suspect you learned about it from a friend on Twitter, or on Facebook, or through a txt msg telling you to chk ths lnk. If you don’t mind, I’d like you all to take out your cell phones right now and tweet a few lines from my speech. Use the hashtag “hesstilltalkingtous” so I can check it right now from home as my holographic self talks to you. Heck, I may even retweet you even as I am talking to you.
I was thinking about what kind of metaphor I could use for today’s speech. But the more I Googled “Commencement Speech,” the more I realized that all the good metaphors have been used up by the real famous people. I later had to go on eBay to bid on a few left-over metaphors, and this is what I got:
You’re all hyperlinks now.
I know that sounds odd, but think about it for a second. You’re moving into a world that is full of connections, whether it be global or local, and the more the Internet and wired world develops, the more it is apparent that the infrastructure of the Internet — the backbone of it all — is the hyperlink. One thought connected to another thought; one person connected to another person.
If it hadn’t already been taken, I might even pull out the quilt metaphor at this point. But, let’s face it: quilts are the past. Fiber optics is the now. The future? Who’s to say? But if we cast our lives in the role of a hyperlink, of ways to find similarities and differences between us in a cohesive package of intelligent links, then maybe understanding, compassion and development of ideas will be nurtured in us all.
Just think of what the Web would be without links. It would be a land of dead ends. It would be static pages that lead to nowhere, and would be difficult to find. It would be ideas set only in isolation. It would be horrible, don’t you think? So, I think we all need to give a little shout-out to Tim Berners-Lee, the main (but not only) visionary who understood in the early days of the Internet that linking ideas together would be a powerful way to use information.
So, what does it mean to be a hyperlink? It means you have an obligation to the world and it means you have a support system and it means that your ability to grow and prosper is unlimited. Still, don’t be hemmed in by my metaphors or my definitions. Break free of tradition as you see fit. The world is always a better place for the innovators, visionaries and those brave folks who saw something as it is and decided they would rather see something as it should be.
I see my holographic is shimmering a bit, so I want to wrap up by saying, it was a pleasure not being here today. If you lost track of my ideas because you were too busy playing Angry Birds beneath your gown, it’s OK. I’ll be sending you my link later.
Have a good life.
Peace (in the talktalktalk),