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One question reappearing with increasing frequency over the last 18 months is why emerging social software is proving to be so disruptive. My response has centered around the fact that when one looks at classic western philosophy there is the recurrent theme of order and will. In contrast when one looks at classical eastern philosophy it centers around the individual. Therefore while western thinking has been about organisation, structure, conformity and formality, eastern thinking has been about chaos, flow, unpredictability and informality. Given publicly listed organisations as we know them today have evolved under top down western thinking and social software is emerging from bottoms up akin to eastern thinking we are entering a period of revolution and evolution as we come to terms with defining a new digital world.

Some of the more tech literate over 40 are participating in this conversation by using emerging social software to find their true voice and rediscover who they are. While those under 40 who have grown up with a digital identity have only ever known life in a digital world. To all of those outside of these two groupings who are not currently part of the digital world there is a natural reaction of fear of the unknown. Natural because as a species we do not resist change per se, we resist being changed. Some organisations are spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) in an attempt to maintain the current status quo and their place within in. These are the people who have the most to lose in a digital world.

However as more people begin to better understand the role social software is playing in shaping a new digital world and what opportunities a digital world holds for everyone they will begin to participate in the conversation. Before the Internet down through the ages much was always thought possible but not very probable. The Internet changes that for the first time ever by making whatever is thought possible now probable. We are living at one of the most exciting times humankind has ever known. A new, more open, tolerant and diverse world which will lead to greater harmony is within reach. And that is something very much to be welcome. More to follow …

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2 Comments

  1. [quote]Therefore while western thinking has been about organisation, structure, conformity and formality, eastern thinking has been about chaos, flow, unpredictability and informality.[/quote]

    How on Earth do you manage to come to that conclusion? If anything, the organisation of Western societies is more dynamic and open than that of almost all traditional oriental ones.

    Social software does not make people more worldly or political. If anything, it makes them less so. Ebay and chatrooms are all structured into highly tiered categories of interest. And when embarking into these bewildering places, almost everyone (except for some exceptional people) becomes very attuned to searching for something in a very personally defined and self-interested way.

    I really don’t think the internet will be very good at politicising people. It may prove a useful tool in political movements, but it’s hardly going to be a magic-wand, and both sides in any struggle can weild it.

  2. Hi Stephen. Thanks for your comment. While talking in general terms here your time horizons of ‘classic philosophy’ would appear to differ substanstially from mine. I am talking about over a period of 3,000 years. To take but one example the dark ages only affected Europe not the East.

    Secondly I am neither talking about politics nor religion but why individuals perceive themselves the way they do within their respective societies. By way of example Britian was able to rule a population of 200m in India with a force of 160,000. The 200m outlook on life was substantially different from the 160,000 devoted to queen and country.

    Thirdly this post is not about judging which way is better. Rather it is to provide a general contrast of two very different schools of thinking. Both ways were of their time and place within a closed world.

    Lastly there is always going to be arguments over what open is and is not. For me open is the ability for you to communicate directly with me in real time despite the fact we have never met nor know anything about each other. That for me is the power of social software. As for hierarchies within ‘these bewildering places’ it is very early days yet. Digital identity will bring with it new social norms just as other technological innovations have done through the ages.


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