23 Jun 2010

Can Social Media change society?

Over the last couple of weeks I have been doing some research on the larger relevance of the digital tools of today and what it means for human society.

What I've seen and read has opened my mind wide. (Actually, it sort-of knocked my mind's door clean off its hinges!)

Most revealing were the lectures of two 18th to 20th philosophers. The Philosophy of History by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 – 1831), and Great Men and their Environment by a man who claimed that it was only when he was under the influence of nitrous oxide that he was able to "understand Hegel", William James (1842 – 1910).

Huh? How do either of these gentlemen have anything to do with the Digital Age? Nothing. But they have a lot to say about 'change' in human society.

Well, if tools were one of the key basis to determine the evolution of the human race, then we live in a profound time: A time when even the creators of the tools seldom grasp the capabilities of their tools!

So what is the very ultimate, far-into-the-future influence that digital tools like the Internet and Social Media can have? How great could the effect be, for example, on government - perhaps the single biggest influence on society?

We all love the stories of how the 'little guy' made a huge government apparatus sit up and take notice (in a positive way, of course) using nothing more than 'ones and zeroes' and a Social Media community? Can Social Media be geared specially to make it happen more often? What if there were a Social Media institution that brought people and government together? A meeting place of sort for 'community' and 'government'?

What if it was taking shape right now? Well, it is...

The concept is a somewhat different from what Tim O'Reilly was talking about in the previous post on the Gov 2.0 Summit. But it is just as ambitious.

If it works the way it is hoped it will, this Strategic Social Experiment can be potentially scaled up to include one-sixth of all humanity. It could fundamentally change the concept of 'government'.

And that will change macro-level aspects of society - and THAT, will change everything.

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