It’s 2012, and yet I feel more calm about our future than ever before.
The Internet has saved our asses, and we should celebrate.
I’ve been on the Web for a long time, but every once in a while I have one of those tremendous moments when I have a mental flashback to these last 20 or so years… It happened today… one of my favorite Adele songs, writ large in a YouTube fan culture spectacular.
Someone had pruned the 71 best YouTube covers of the track from the 350,000 or so available.
Woven into a mash-up of all the covers in perfect synchrony.
A Snippet of Magic
I think it must have been magic that produced it.
I mean, even if I had the skill, would I spend that time on a small gift to the Internet?
But that’s what we’ve been doing. Building a capability network of epic proportions.
Leveraging the power of six degrees of separation.
Uniting in common purpose and effort in ways that we had been rapidly losing.
New Possibilities Created by Connections
Here are 10 ways I see us transforming as a culture, based on the possibilities now afforded to us by connections and technology:
1. Challenging the Status Quo
Before we could reach out to anyone on the planet, did we ever see anything as amazing as the projects and successes associated with challenged paradigms in the world? With collective marketplaces that match previously disconnected buyers and sellers, fans of every color, ‘it takes a village‘ projects like Open Source, and collective effort never before seen in the world. We are challenging the status quo, building things, creating things, connecting with each other, self-organizing around important issues, and yes, changing the world little bit by little bit.
2. Changed by Exposure to Diversity
We pay attention to the small details of people’s lives, delight over their family photos, and share at the level of family with a whole bunch of people. We’re supported when we need to be. We talk about issues and conundrums and joys. People are connecting and being exposed to both comfortable and diverse perspectives.
That will serve us well.
3. Support is Now Visible
4. Learn More from Each Other
We learn from each other. You can find everything from make-up tips to channeled extraterrestrial messages on YouTube. And if you have ever doubted that kids are learning things these days, check out this very interesting exchange between a student and his English teacher.
5. Crowd Sourced Wisdom
We share our knowledge, wisdom and experiences. Quora is a place where you can ask any question in the world, and expect a reasonable answer.
6. Creativity and Inspiration is Unleashed
We share our creative ideas and inspirations. Pinterest has redefined the digital portfolio/catalog.
7. Increased Appreciation of the Unique and Handmade
We still have a healthy respect for the unique and the handmade. Etsy has enabled many a domestic entrepreneur and infused our culture with an amazing richness of creativity.
8. Truth is Exposed
We still haunt Twitter waiting for a cause or idea to support. Retweets are our weapon in an effort to expose information and transform thinking. It’s still an incredibly powerful tool, as its signal can not be easily stopped (following censorship laws or not). ‘Can’t stop the signal!’
9. We are More Authentic
People in the social media space are finally talking more about authenticity, which might help minimize some of the junkier parts of our lovely information city.
10. Anyone can Contribute
We acknowledge that everyone has something to contribute, as long as you’re nice about it.
Tools for Total Transformation of Our World
I’ve been commenting on the Internet and its specifics for a while. But for now I just want to comment on the wonder of it all. That in our hands we have a tool that could allow a total transformation of our world, by first transforming our values through visceral experiences and real-time sharing of information. The Planned Parenthood debacle (and the response to it) is an incredible example of this in action.
We vote with our clicks, and that’s some real power.
All of this underscored by a documentary I watched today. It’s one of those everyday miracles of the Internet era. A creation that just a couple of decades ago would have cost many thousands to produce. Now all you need is the motivation and the time.
The Power to Reach Anyone
But more importantly, here’s how the Internet has changed us: we have been given power to reach anyone, tools to do it with, and reasons to think we might effect change with a vote, e-mail or blog post. Changing people’s minds and seeing consciousness grow is one of the delights of information mavens.
Relishing in diverse and divergent thinking is another
We are having conversations in unparalleled ways with unparalleled access to the people and forces who can help create change. We are also increasingly choosing the information we choose to expose ourselves to, and that’s a very good thing.
Now if we could only start getting paid for our contributions…but OMG, I can help change the world, just by using this far-reaching Internet voice.
Guest Author: Lisa Galarneau is a socio-cultural anthropologist who studies emerging cultures and trends in technology, information and media.
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Image by h.koppdelaney