Ivanna lost her phone and the person who found it wouldn’t give it back so her friend Evan made the story viral. The support rallied by Evan, over the loss of the phone resulted in mass public interest that when conjoined affected the outcome of the situation showing the power that groups possess.
The attention that becomes possible with mass Internet access creates the opportunity for individuals to communicate, broadcast issues, receive support, and thus change situations that they would not otherwise be able to alone. Evan utilized internet social media tools to rally support and create a kind of movement, that was rare, difficult to manage, full of experts, and almost impossible to create 5 or 10 years ago.
Human organization is highly complex and critical to group formation and collaboration within societies, but technology now allows easier access to organization and raises important ethical questions related to access and power. With new technology we are able to form groups easier, which thus provides different forms of motivation for individuals contributing to society.
The introduction of the internet, as it currently exists, along with cell phones, e-mail, and other forms of communication allow people to more easily organize themselves and accomplish collective action, without the institutional structure that was once needed to manage organizations. People are now capable of group action with out the need for traditional institutions to bring social change.
In class we discussed why and how is this new. Below are related concepts from social science that came up during that conversation:
- social capital
- transaction costs
- emotion and helping behavior
- helping and altruism
- social support
I posted a link to this post on FB. A good friend of mind sent me an email with the following comment. He raises a really interesting point: does the phone example raise an important problem-- that the collective action made possible by internet community often gets directed towards trivial ends while far more important ends go wanting,
Connections to current events in the world:
- Egypt: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Egyptian_revolution#Role_of_social_media
- Ushahidi: http://www.ushahidi.com/
The cognitive surplus: http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cognitive_surplus_will_change_the_world.html
Several of the ideas that we discussed in class started to connect with Shirky's new book. Above is a TED talk that summarizes some of those ideas.