It is a concept I work into almost all of my presentations. Never before has an individual had the ability to go about their day-to-day activities yet - through the power of technology (and more specifically, the Internet) - been able to affect real change and command real power.
What am I talking about?
Look at the SARS pandemic and how the young (and wired) people of China dealt with it:
"Recent incidents during the SARS health crisis in China suggested that the country's youth had embraced the Internet as a mechanism to build the types of reciprocal trust-building relationships outlined by Putnam in the face of encroaching authoritarian rule. Youth, facing a stark life locked away from society within institutional compounds during the three-month health crisis, appropriated the Internet as a tool to voice their growing concerns and protests over authorities' handling of the issue. In bulletin board services (BBS), youth took the local and institutional authorities to task for their inept and conspiratorial ways whereby lower level administrators were accused of deceiving the public. The discourse of dissent raised hope that the Internet may indeed act as a tool to promote the kind of vibrant and robust civil society hoped for by proponents of the Internet as a democratizing tool." - Dr. Ian Weber's abstract for his presentation: Youth and Online Morality: Can China 's Citizenry be Trusted with Freedom of Speech?
Real power wielded by real people - just like you and me.
I was reminded of this today when I read this post by Austin Hill over at Billions With Zero Knowledge: Are you In Over Your Head? An Interview With Julien Smith.
These past few months I've been developing strong friendships with both Austin Hill and Julien Smith. There are others as well (just look at what's going down at Geek Dinners and PodCamp). We're connecting and meeting through these channels - Blogs, Podcasts, Second Life, unconferences, etc... and we can all affect real change by yielding this real power.
While on this path, I've been accepted to TED 2008 and it has opened my eyes to areas of social media beyond marketing, communications, advertising and public relations. I am ramping up my involvement in the David Suzuki Foundation and find myself much more interested in global initiatives that affect change through leveraging the power of technology and social media.
I grabbed the .com and .org for Social Media Responsibility. I have no idea what I am going to do with this or where it will lead me, but one thing that clicked after reading Are you In Over Your Head? An Interview With Julien Smith is that we have way too many smart people who have a global audience, and there has got to be a way to harness this power and do what we're all meant to do while we're here: make a difference.