Sunday, October 19, 2008

Social Media, Web 2.0, Changing Communication Styles and The Great Flood

Much of the focus in the business world is moving away from the organization and toward the individual. With this I am perplexed as to if the individual can handle this power.

Not any specific individuals, as there are amazing people in all organizations (corporations, non-profits, religious, political, social, etc....), but there are also many lost souls who look for direction from others. I wonder if our moves toward a decentralized model leave many people on the sidelines looking for guidance. Are the haves and have nots no longer just divided by economics, but also by their ability to embrace the changes that the digital world is bringing into our lives?

Those who are natural leaders and entrepreneurs are seeming to thrive in this new transparent environment. Many of the people I know are striving to excel in the new online social media world that is now finding its way out of the fringes and into more traditional industries. You see them writing and reading blogs, active in social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and beyond), while creating new opportunities for themselves and their employers all at the same time. These people are out front into this brave new world.

Yet where there are leaders, there must be followers. But in this case I see much of the movement being in an individualistic parade. All the leaders seem to simultaneously be following each other.

The blogosphere and Twitter are a great example of the leaders all linking together. People have power that has never existed before to build their personal brand in exciting new ways. They do not need to have the platform of a larger organization to succeed. They self-select the community and bathe in the circular adoration.

This allows many to express themselves and cultivate a persona that extends beyond what it says on their office door or their business card: A business professional can turn their hobby into a side career. An entrepreneur can be a philanthropist and build both a company and discover ways to impact those in need. Anyone can make their own version of art and share it with the world. People who create a following have a voice that transcends the noise of Web 2.0.

But what about the rest of the people who have not the drive or the clarity of self? Those who do good work when given direction, but will never use their internal initiative on their own, are left to languish on the sidelines while the corporate and political structure of society shifts.

I am not here stating that online social media in of itself changes the infrastructure of the planet. However, it is not a fad that will soon fade away. The new methods of communication are having an impact on people. As the younger generations grow up to assume their roles in shaping our society, there will be drastic changes.

The differences between the campaign infrastructure and communication styles of the Barak Obama campaign and that of John McCain are just a scratch on the surface of things to come (and not just in politics). A new area is being ushered in and regardless of if you are 15 or 50, you need to be conscious this or you will be left behind.

We are being swallowed up by a great flood of information. Everyone is bombarded by choices like not other time in history. Many are looking for ways to embrace and capitalize on the massive amounts of information. Others are ignoring the rain and assuming the sun will come out tomorrow. Yes, there will be sun, but it will shine on a different world.

I don't have the answers, but I do suggest we all look at the questions. This is a time for the "Big Tent Thinkers" I have referenced in past blog posts. Do not close your small tent to new ideas. Allow all perspectives to be put in front of you for observation and contemplation. Look beyond what you know and welcome the future.

Have A Great Day.


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