With next week's election, we will be choosing the person who will be setting the agenda for the next few years. We'll be setting our national agenda....and part of the success has been tapping into decentralized networks.
One of the great ideas proposed on Steven Johnson's Future Perfect is the idea that a new kind of politics is emerging - one focused on driving civic engagement and building community via social networks. The primary focus of the book, admittedly, is on politics and culture - Johnson's idea is that, much like Kickstarter, utilizing a decentralized network of individuals can lead to small - but significant - changes in our political and civic sphere.
His main thesis is that a new kind of political advocate - the "peer progressive" - is emerging. One that sees how using networks to advocate for change goes beyond simply being liberal or conservative - it means that driving collaboration and social change has become much easier. Using technology and social networks to collaborate helps move social change organizations from a simple marketing/fundraising perspective. In short, Johnson argues that being able to tap into networks provides for smaller, more localized results because people with a very strong interest are engaged on a deeper level.
It's a radical idea - the fact that using online tools can lead to very localized results - but there are some great ideas in the book. However, the tone at times can be a little too academic, and sometimes Johnson seems to overstate his case. However, as we're looking to drive digital excellence in Chicago, there's plenty of food for thought in this book.
It's a pretty short read, and available from the Chicago Public Library. As we head into the election, it might be a great motivator for many of us regardless of the results.
If you have questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. If you wish to contact me, you are more than welcome to send me a note via Linked In (just mention Chicago Now in your note) and my web site.
As always, thanks for reading.