Someone recently told me that all I really need to know I gained from the Wizard of Oz: all it takes is a heart, some courage and a brain and when all else fails some pretty red shoes. Having a brother that is also a writer is a really nice addition to that list.
When I was about 4 years old my older brother, Jesse Rice, played the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. Three years my elder, my hero, I for some reason or another was not allowed to go to his performance, but instead stayed home and was allowed to watch television. This was 1980, when it was still completely novel to watch movies that aired on prime time (now, with the advent of Netflix and On Demand, I can’t imagine that anyone still tortures themselves with watching a 1.5 hour long movie made 2 hours by commercials). But if anything other than my brother was magical in my life, it was the television (actually, everything was magical: sticks that became horses, boxes that became dollhouses, cats that became dress up victims, but the television had a certain technological magic to it for me). So, to my delight I learned that the movie of the night was the Wizard of Oz! I watched the entire thing, enraptured and utterly convinced that I was watching my brother on television. I couldn’t believe how great he was at it.
He just pulled off something else magical: a book. His book, The Church of Facebook, just came this month. I recommend picking it up if you are interested in the way technology can shape (and even be) community, if you are concerned with hyperconnectivity and how to remain mindful and if you just want to laugh along with some great research and writing. As in life, online community benefits from having a brain, a heart and a bit of courage.