Friday, September 28, 2012

We are in the midst of a revolution

I am sure this is probably old news to many of you reading this, but I had a lightbulb moment as I was reading through a few of the things that had come across my desktop today...funny how "coming across my desktop" would have had a totally different meaning 15 years ago (or even less)!

© jonnysek -
We are living in exciting times, and we are part of a revolution that is having an effect on lives that is comparable to the industrial revolution of two centuries ago. I am not talking purely of technology, although that is what is fuelling this revolution, I am talking about Social...not just Social Media, it is way more than that, social media applications are enabling this, but what is happening is a total shift in the mindset of the connected world.

Geography means very little in my world today. A few years ago living in New Zealand, a very geographically isolated spot on the globe, really limited the input and impact you were able to have in any industry globally. Well, things sure have changed. Today I network around the clock and around the world with the experts in my industry. I also hear the latest news on topics that I am interested, philosophy, literature...gone are the days that living in New Zealand meant that you got all the news two weeks after it had happened!

When John Guare wrote his Pulitzer prize finalist play, Six Degrees of Separation in 1990 - later further popularised in the movie of the same name in 1993 - we sat up and listened. Most people were amazed to find that it was true and they could connect themselves to virtually anyone in the world in six steps or less. Try that exercise now, and I am sure that you will find that the number of steps has probably halved.

When I wrote my earlier post about becoming social I had actually forgotten that I joined my first online social group in 1994. This was a list-serve group set up for parents of children with primary immune deficiencies. When I joined there were a handful of people there, pretty well all from the US, and we corresponded via email, a bit later we utilised a group chat facility - no video or audio involved - and got together over a few wines on a Friday evening (at least it was in someone's timezone). 18 years later, I still count many of the people in that group among my closest friends, even though I have only physically met two of them. The email group is still going today, but has now been augmented by a private Facebook group.

Twitter launched in July 2006, Facebook became available publicly in September of the same year, LinkedIn is the grandfather here, launching in May, 2003. That is just nine short years ago, and just six for the two of the largest social networks. The Industrial Revolution took 100 years, give or take, to reach its critical mass...look at how the world has now changed in six!

© Torbz -
The way I see it, this rate of change is just going to keep accelerating, the more connected we get, the more collaboration is happening. The more we collaborate, the faster the advances in technology are going to occur, so the cycle of change and advancement will get shorter and shorter.

It is exciting and frightening at the same time, we are poised on the edge of something that has and will continue to change humanity -  we just have to hope that it is for the better...and that can only happen if we work hard at ensuring that this is the outcome.

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