Wondering Out Loud

You say you want a revolution

Do any of you read Justin Kownacki? You should.

He wrote a post last month calling for a rebellion. Not an armed insurrection for the overthrow of government, rather he wants the his generation to take social media back (I didn’t know it was taken away) from those (like me) who use it for profit and use it, instead, as a catalyst for cultural change. A Woodstock for today. The Summer of Love revisited:

Social media is still locked in the hands of the technophiles and the marketers, who focus on mechanical and business applications.  They’re either unwilling or incapable of creating true cultural change, seeking instead to find practical ways to use these tools for financial profit.  And that’s functional, but it’s not the kind of sociological earthquake that’s going to define a generation — unless we become defined as the generation who’d rather consume than create.

I understand what Justin is getting at. The internet is the most powerful distribution engine ever created. Like radio and TV before it,  but with copious amounts of digital steroids injected, the WWW has opened up a new world of sharing news, information and opinion and has shattered the barriers to entry. Any garage band with aspirations for greatness can find an audience without the aid of a manager or recording contract. Any writer can satisfy their passion through blogging. Any budding director can film  – old school I know – edit and distribute their work and not have to deal with the politics of Hollywood.

Although Woodstock is considered the defining event of the Baby Boom Generation, the phenomenon of 500,000 people spending three days stoned in the mud listening to great music did not change the culture.  It was, however, one of several pieces that came together to make a dramatic and lasting impact on the cultural make up of the USofA. In fact, the cultural change Justin is seeking might have already taken place.

Like the cultural shifts of the 1960′s and 1980′s, the ingredients for a movement were in place in 2008, but a catalyst was needed to turn the potential into the kinetic. In the 60′s it was Vietnam, in the 80′s it was Reagan and in 2008 it was President Obama.

Last November, Barack Obama rode a wave into the White House. It was a wave built using social media to distribute, and make viral the candidate’s message and the messages of his supporters. Where Kennedy used television, Obama mastered the Internet to build a coalition of supporters that would assure his victory.

Only history will tell if his election was a defining moment of a generation, or one ingredient in a larger dish of cultural change. Either way, change is not an item on a menu to be ordered when one is in the mood and, more often than not, we can only recognize it and its impact through the lens of history.

September 8, 2009 - Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , ,

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