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January 30, 2011

Questioning the power of web 2.0?

by Chris Lindholm

I frequently have conversations with people who are unaware or unwilling to recognize the earth shattering power of web 2.0.  150 years of industrial era living has led many people to believe that the rhythms of this time period will simply continue on forever and deep, fundamental changes in how people think, act, and behave is simply unrealistic.  If this describes you, turn on your television or look up your favorite news site today. 

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Twitter, Facebook, and other web 2.0 tools are currently facilitating grass roots communications that has already and could further result in masses of people  overthrowing autocratic governments that have held power for decades.  The movements are accelerated by real time participation from people all over the globe and waves of emotional energy that act as shock waves in our current institutions.   These communication and networking tools are indeed handing incredible power to those who can harness that energy and focus it on a purpose. 

So…  What does this mean for the US government?  What does this mean for local school boards, city councils, and churches?  If speech and the power to persuade is no longer tied directly to institutions that control the media waves (governments, cable networks, media moguls tied to government leaders, etc…), then power is rooted in ones ability to win a following.  Just as important, the following may not be tied to location , ethnicity, or denomination.  Networks of individuals and groups across nations, backgrounds and interests that believe in a common purpose now have the power to align efforts and focus resources in a real-time environment.  While this sounds abstract, I am convinced it is and will be a dominant variable in local communities more and more. 

We are living in a time when the old fashion “town hall meeting” is a global conversation.  It involves our past enemies and our future friends.  Secrets simply don’t work anymore (think wikileaks).  Maybe – just maybe – honest, transparent leadership that responds to the needs of the people will be something all communities deem a right rather than a privilege.  We might even have to honestly deal with the real disparities from one community to the next – and commit to being part of the solution.   On an international level, that’s a scary thought…

Indeed, we are living in fascinating times.  Web 2.0 is changing the global map and our children are seeing the power of it and engaging in it in real time.  If we teach our classes and/or lead our schools in a manner that does not engage students in the purpose and meaning of what we do, should we be surprised that students might repeat this kind of uprising in the classroom?  Should we be surprised if communities create an uproar if they are not honestly engaged in processes to define their own identity?   The times are calling for true, honest, and engaging teaching and leadership – no doubt a very challenging calling – and the stakes are amazingly high.  I pray our work is part of the honest answer being called for…

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