• connectedness;
  • individualism;
  • nursing's future;
  • technological understanding

An international inaugural conference held in Iceland in June 1995 had as its theme ‘Connecting conversations: Nursing scholarship and practice into the 21st century’. In this paper, which is an expansion of my keynote address about this theme delivered at the conference, I begin by tracing the roots of both nursing's and wider society's separation and isolation and by identifying the forces that divide and unite us. I trace these roots through a more philosophical than professional or organizational lineage, examining how the culture of radical individualism and the modernist technological understanding may have forced this stance. I highlight what is happening in nursing at present and suggest pressures that possibly militate against collaborative and constructive ‘connecting conversations’. I then move on to suggest some possible strategies through which we may begin to overcome the obstacles in the way of genuine collaboration and connectedness in our lives and work.