Monday, November 29, 2010
Little Brother is Running Things Now
-- George Orwell, British author
Boy, did this guy get it wrong! (Other than the part about the earth and the sun) Those of us who grew up in the 50's, 60's or 70's read Orwell's famous novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, with fascination. It was intended as an attack on totalitarian regimes and was a cautionary tale. However, its depiction of post-WW III life was often taken as commentary on modern society.
And, we can find ample evidence of its ironies everywhere. We need go further than Jon Stewart's or Steven Colbert's nightly TV shows for a catalogue of the day’s "Doublethink" and "Newspeak". Many of the invented terms from the novel were adopted in popular speech. Indeed, the term Orwellian is often used to describe subjugation by the "Thought Police". Moreover, Orwell's home city of London is intensely surveilled by cameras in every public place. Big Brother is, indeed, watching us.
However, Orwell's core theme -- that technology would permit the state to control the actions of its citizens -- has proven to be the opposite of our current condition.
Technology -- specifically, the Internet -- has enabled the masses to effect leadership from the grassroots level. Examples abound.
CEO's for Cities is a web-based community of people driving change in urban environments. Their bottoms up approach has achieved results in Portland, OR, Chicago, IL and New York. So far.
Maryland based Kapston Corporation, a marketing company, has started a non-profit Internet initiative to support green business.
Cancer.im has as its mission "to empower every cancer patient regardless of their ability to pay, with the ability to research their disease and assist in finding, organizing and managing their own cancer support network".
Last June, Think Social, a NY based non-profit, hosted a one day conference the goal of which was to “explore how social & mobile media are empowering corporate citizenship to create social & environmental change.
None of these efforts rely upon support from taxpayer dollars. There is no hierarchy imposing control of the process. The success of each is based upon the initiative of its participants. The technology enables their success rather than hindering it.
Can you think of any examples of LEADERSHIP emanating from the Internet? If so, I would like to hear from you. Please scroll down to post your comments.