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Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Social Change on the Social Web

In October 2010, Malcolm Gladwell famously argued that social media would not bring about a revolution in social activism. And as he no doubt intended, the Twitterati, blogosphere and other social media elites immediately responded with all the reasons why he was “wrong, wrong, wrong.”

Actually, both sides are right; they’re looking at the same issue from two different angles. The social web is powerful in that it connects us instantaneously across time and physical space, but without authentically engaged human beings to make those connections meaningful, it becomes a bunch of real-time, self-absorbed drivel (see 10 Things You Need to Stop Tweeting About). When you look at it this way, the social web is a way to extend and amplify our fickle, flawed humanity.

And that’s a beautiful thing, because it means that every time we choose to be significant rather than mediocre, meaningful rather than merely profitable, and open to life rather than fearful of it, we can harness the power of our highly connected world to amplify our actions 1,000-fold. It’s wonderful when individuals do this on their own, but when we act boldly together, just imagine what’s possible!

This is why I love companies like Bolder. Bolder encourages businesses and consumers to act together for a better world. The model is pretty simple - complete a bold action (such as biking to work or a random act of kindness) and get a reward, often in the form of discounts from a sustainabily-minded company. This may sound pretty small in the face of the world's big problems, and it is... at the individual level. The great thing about individuals is that when you bring them together for a common purpose, you have a group that's capable of powerful, concerted action.

Bolder is harnessing the power of group behavior across the social web. For the first time in history, the physical barriers to collective, powerful action have been torn down, and Bolder gives you – yes, you, reading this blog, right now – the opportunity to enact real change by focusing that power into a single, common goal for a brighter future. It's social enterprise on the social web, and it's awesome!

One small action will make one small difference. That matters. And when you take all those small actions and put them together, not only will you make an even bigger difference; you just might impact real, lasting change.

That’s the promise of Bolder, and of the social web more broadly – to empower, uplift and inspire. Or, you know, you could just Tweet about what you had for lunch.

Robin Cangie writes about 21st-century prosperity, institutional transformation and whatever is on her mind at Follow her on Twitter at @robinoula.

-- Robin // 4:17 AM // 0 comments

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