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5 May 2008

the internet changes everything

By interconnecting that which was once unconnected the internet opens up millions of new possibilities that were previously impossible. I think this is part of what Mark Pesce was saying in his recent post.

We are only now beginning to perceive how this will change society and the people that inhabit it. One of the first changes is in the power and distance relations between individual people and between individual people and organisations.

Social media and social networking are already beginning to change the power relations and distance between individual people. With social networking distance is reduced and the importance of physical proximity is reduced. We've all seen the amusing send ups of Facebook in real life. Here the need to be physically proximate to maintain a relationship is reduced. Also connections between people who have never met in person are made possible.

The other thing that social networking is doing is breaking down temporal barriers between people and events. Twitter can enable me to know what is happening in another place in real time. For example, if someone says something interesting (or stupid) in a conference on the other side of the world I can know about it in real time and start blogging, sharing it via my other social networks. The connections between the people in the various social networks mean that information spreads exponentially.

What all this means for organisations is anyone's guess. We now have online organisations like GetUp that mobilise the efforts of thousands of people who have not met in real life but who are tied together by common interests.

One thing is for certain, the internet connects that which was previously hard to connect. It gives power to groups that once found it hard to marshal people of common interest. This empowerment is a phenomenon that will be particularly interesting to observe. And together with empowerment is revelation - it will be hard to hide things in this kind of open environment. For those who seek to tell lies or half-truths the internet will be a great challenge.

Much to think about, many options for us to explore. The watchword is 'possibilities'.


By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

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