Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Digital Tools For Change
By Joe Marchese I am starting this article on my BlackBerry, standing among well over one million people in well-below-freezing temperatures. It is Inauguration Day, and the anticipation is palpable. I am making new friends all around me, but even more impressive is how connected I am to people hundreds -- even thousands -- of miles away. In real time I can broadcast to those within my social graph the specific happenings moment-to-moment. I can take a picture with my camera phone and within minutes have the picture up on my Twitter, Facebook and MySpace accounts. I may not be able to feel my toes, but friends in California on the beach can bug me to continue the play-by-play.
One of the questions I was asked, and I heard asked time and again while in D.C. for the inauguration, is, how will the momentum created during the elections continue? There has been a lot of hype around digital tools bringing a new generation into the political process, and the idea that these people offer the greatest opportunity for us to meet the new challenges we face as a country. I for one don't think this is at all wishful thinking. If there is anything I have learned working at a social media company over the past couple of years, it is this: People have an overwhelming desire to make the world a better place. They just need to be given the right direction and the tools to make it happen.
As I went to various balls and breakfasts, what I continued to come across in D.C. was organizations looking to use digital tools to better engage the next generation. I saw and spoke with organizations that included Service Nation, Do Something, CauseCast and Take Part. What these groups and the incoming administration realize is that by using social media tools, they can communicate, organize and empower a new generation to build a better tomorrow.
The common thread between the rhetoric in Obama's inauguration speech and the proliferation of social media tools surrounding the festivities is that causing real-world change will be about creating movements, both online and offline. It won't be about simply telling people what they need to do; instead, it will be about sharing the challenges and collaborating toward a solution. People are anxious to get involved, but it's never before been possible to organize and empower people the way we can when effectively using the Internet -- and social media specifically.
I, for one, am excited to see what we can do when we give people more tools to create change. After these couple of days in D.C., I know I am not alone.
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Joe Marchese is President of socialvibe.
Online Spin for Wednesday, January 21, 2009: