Anders, Abram. “Zen and the Art of New Media Communications.” 76th Annual Association of Business Communication Convention. Montreal, Quebec (CA). October 2011.

New media means new modes, objects, and artifacts of communication; it means engaging markets and audiences that are globalized and culturally diverse and yet also increasingly fractured, specialized, and niche-oriented. New media emphasizes interactivity and social-networking, yet configures the individual as an isolated end-user as often as it supports spaces for innovation, participation, and community. In the age of new media, the task of communication is continually rediscovered in the multiple and ever-shifting contexts of applications, interfaces, mobile technologies; diverse audiences and cross-functional collaborators; changing roles, workplace environments, and career paths.

The paradoxes and challenges of new media environments inevitably require successful business communicators to learn, to live, and to thrive in conditions of continually renewed beginner’s mind. Yet, this need not be a bad thing; as Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki instructs us, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” The centuries-old practices of Zen Buddhism provide ready tools for clarifying the challenges, resolving the paradoxes, and successfully traversing the boundaries of our contemporary experiences and creative processes in new media contexts. Specific principles will address and connect contemporary theories of productivity and sustainable innovation with relevant industry examples and classroom applications.

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