Imagine you start documenting something that changes faster than it can be documented.

robotsThis is the experience I’m currently having writing the sequel to “A Mindful Guide to Online Living”, which zooms in on one aspect of the “Online Living” component, namely Social Media.

Just when I reached the point of my planned chapter about Social Media as a Driver of Social Change things started happening in Egypt. Colleagues from Cairo, that normally were online everyday, suddenly disappeared. People from all over the world relayed the news, from minute to minute, via Social Media; What later came to be called “The Facebook Revolution”. Many people, including me, are careful to put too much emphasis on the technological aspects of those changes occurring in the Middle East. Nevertheless, when a man calls his daughter “Facebook”, you know that something is cooking.

And it’s not just Egypt, as we all know. It’s turning more and more into a global phenomenon. And at the core of all of it there’s a new, growing understanding:

A central point of both my new book and the prequel is this: The change is not about the technology and its features but about what people are enabled to do by using technology to connect to each other.

The core issue here is one of human behaviour. Not of geeky gadgetry.

It’s neither simple, nor is it all good or all bad. It’s complicated. And it’s a fact that has to be grappled with. Those who ignore the power of connected individuals will end up like Mubarak, Germany’s defence minister or [fill in the blank].

But net-communities are not just a danger to political regimes. Also corporations will have to take it into consideration that people cannot be treated as passive receivers/consumers anymore. They have a voice. And they will use the Net to make it heard.

Taking a Step Back

Two days ago I saw an awesome documentary by Ivo Gormley, called “Us Now” documenting social change in and through the Internet. There’s some beautiful stories and examples in there from crowd-sourced football team management to participatory budgeting systems to phenomena like Couchsurfing and many more. And although, or should I say because (!) the documentary is from 2008, it gives this strange sense that we’re already in the midst of what people only speculated about a few years ago, especially the political aspects of hierarchies being toppled over by net-communities.

Personally, I’ve only discovered this documentary right now, but even if you’ve seen it before, 2011 is the perfect year to see it again!

“We don’t have a ideology but we do have a view that democracy is broken and that it can be fixed, you know. If you combine a new medium of communications with a new generation that wants a new model, with this social networking revolution that you were alluding to and then a big economic change to rethink how we get capability for citizens — you put all those together and you start to get a fundamental new model citizen — a unique period in human history to me.” – Don Tapscott

The whole movie can be enjoyed online (of course), free of charge.Here’s a snippet to get you excited: