Tapping into networks, no matter who you are
Change agents on all levels are equalized on the great big communications network. That is illustrated extraordinarily well at this week’s Social Good Summit (#socialgood) in New York.
On Monday, opening day, the topics varied from water conservation to maternal health, and speakers ranged from supermodels and billionaires to public servants and internet sensations.
What every speech shared was the ingredient of talking about mobilizing people for change and how they can harness communications technology to do that. And as every speech was delivered, it was reacted to, commented on, and shared with an audience that was not physically present, but tuned in via social networks or the live webcast (on mashable and here on ericsson.com).
The tagline of the Social Good Summit is “new powers. new players. new platforms,” and indeed the Digital Media Lounge is full of bloggers who wear pins saying, “Talk to me about How to Change the World,” distribute books on the same topic, and publish updates on Twitter with dizzying speed and regularity.
Meanwhile, the official event featured supermodel Christy Turlington Burns and Heather Armstrong, founder of dooce.com and well-known “mommyblogger”, who talked about maternal health and how technology can make simple procedures available, saving lives every day.
Turlington showed an excerpt of her documentary “No Woman, No Cry,” which follows at-risk pregnancies in four countries: Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala and the United States. Her efforts to reduce maternal mortality are gaining publicity through Armstrong’s popular site dooce.com. Armstrong talked about having a voice and sharing in the new-media world. The only limit she sees in sharing, she noted with a twinkle in her eye, was from her own seven-year old child, who said: “Please don’t put this on your website.”
(I digress, and must confess that sometimes I get the same treatment from my own kids when I take their pictures: “Don’t put that on Facebook!” I usually do anyway, fully expecting revenge when their own tools of social interaction develop in ways their old Mom can neither predict nor learn by the time they’re savvy.)
The final speaker, Alec Ross, Senior Advisor for Innovation in the Office of the US Secretary of State, showed a series of portraits and asked: “Is this the face of power?” Every answer could have been “yes.”
Another memorable piece of advice from Ross: “Use these tools to learn to listen.”
This is perhaps the most exciting facet of the Networked Society: The vision that new ways of interaction will allow us to use our networks and act together for more social good, to join our fellow human beings in endeavors to bring access to education and information, to treat the earth more kindly, and above all, to listen.