The Web is a socially disruptive technology. By that I mean it changes the status quo . It alters how we interact and act in the world. Facebook, LinkedIn, iPhones, skype, YouTube, twitter, blogs, forums, reviewing on e-commerce sites are all changing the way we communicate. It’s impact on every day life is fast becoming equal or even greater than that of the telephone, TV or radio.
By focusing on the social I am taking a different slant to Christensen’s original definition of “disruptive technology” which was more to do with the way technology disrupts markets. This direct impact on our communication and interaction with each other is deep seated and is going to lead to significant revolutionary change. I am fascinated in trying to understand how the internet and social media foster change. How do we harness such power to the benefit of us all?
I think the only way to gain a deeper understanding is to experiment with it in a personal way. So here goes:
Experiment No: 1 Creating Good News
My first experiment in this area was triggered by a frustration I felt with the negative nature of British news reporting. My other half and I listen to the Today program on BBC Radio 4 every morning. I have become increasingly frustated with the negative slant of the news delivered. One morning we woke up to the single line “Children in Britain are overweight” followed by a different news item. What a great way to start the day. I groaned and rolled over. Every News program has a gate-keeper who choose what stories to go with. Such editors have incredible power to adjust the mood of a program and as a consequence the mood of millions of listeners! I began to wonder how we could create “good news” stories. I decided that they really had to be stories around positive things that had happened in the community.
So later that day I went onto Facebook and started up the Facebook Group “Make Malmesbury Better”. Malmesbury is where I have lived for the last two and a half years. It is a pretty, ancient market town on the edge of the Cotswolds. It is great and my family and I have been made very welcome here. However as with anywhere there are plenty of ways it could be better. So the aim of the group is that we gather suggestions and build agreement around positive ideas for change.
Less than two weeks later we have four members and about seven topics. Not great progress you may think… however yesterday to my amazement I was invited to do a recorded radio interview for Heart FM based on my obvious passion for the topic.
One of the topics I posted about on the group was the possibility of building a padel court in Malmesbury. This morning a contact phoned me with quotes for how much it would cost and pictures of a padel court. The simple act of creating a group on Facebook and listing a quick wish-list (both of which took me about 15 minutes) has resulted in two positive actions in 10 days!
I look forward to seeing what next week will bring!
Postscript: Yesterday on the Today program (which for some reason I am still listening to) they actually had four positive items and the presenter actually passed comment on the fact that the news was positive that day. EVERY DAY could be positive if they chose to make it that way! Who wants to join a facebook group to make British news programs more positive??? Does Experiment No. 2 beckon???