Saturday, February 26, 2011

perfect storm

It feels very much like a *perfect storm* is brewing - social media driving social change.

Gen X/Y and millennials are leading the widening use of the social Web and it’s technology toolkit. In the early days, much like views of the Web, and the telephone before that, people were not sure if there was any real, tangible value to this new technology. The initial goal of Facebook (if you believe the screenplay for *The Social Network*) was to help nerdy boys meet cute girls. Early blog postings and tweets were pretty non-sensical and low impact. “Bobby and I ate nachos on the couch last night while we watched TV.”

But people quickly learned that these tools could be used in other ways: to find old acquaintances, make new friends based on shared interests or create communities using this relationship-building digital connective tissue.

LinkedIn evolved to include groups allowing strangers with expertise to initiate a digital dialogue and encourage others to join in. Topics are wide ranging with social or job related issues being discussed. Some very pragmatic groups exist, and others are quite philosophical. Discussions began to emerge about the challenges facing our planet: climate change, ecological issues, need for sustainable energy, lack of clean water, implications of affordable housing,

So the foundation was well established by the time the well-educated and extremely frustrated Egyptian middle-class and young professionals realized that Facebook and Twitter could help them foment revolution, even - in this case - topple a dictator who had lorded over their country for more than four decades.

Finally, citizens being suppressed by tyrannical regimes are able to access free, global technology-based communication tools, allowing them to virtually connect and collaborate to drive the values of an open society.

With the press of a finger, messages and images can now be shared around the world. Instant conversations can be conducted. Expertise can easily be distributed across borders. People with similar passions weighing in, sharing perspectives, exciting and motivating each other. .

A dictatorial regime overthrown in Egypt - supported by Facebook. Students posting cell phone videos of protesters in Iran. Kiva providing Web-based crowdsourced microloans to help budding entrepreneurs in emerging markets. Konbit using text messages to connect local resources with local needs in Haiti.

Hats off to all the energetic, passionate social media aficionados out there and to the next generation coming of age. I am so very excited to see the innovative and creative ways people will use these newly unleashed capabilities to drive the further flattening of the planet.

The perfect storm has arrived: Social media is now firmly accelerating awareness and participation across the evolving, borderless global community.

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