“Urgent!” said the email I opened one morning last week. The note was from a friend alerting me to a plan our city commissioners were considering, one that would put unwanted chemicals into our drinking water. She asked me to communicate my objections to the commissioners at once. I was surprised by her request as I’d heard little about the issue. My most recent water concern was one I was having with a crow that kept dunking bread into the bird bath.
I trust my friend but sent a copy of her email to a few others to get a response. Minutes later an attorney replied, a friend who’d fought the city successfully on a similar issue 5 years earlier. I forwarded the information she provided to 35 others whom I knew to be passionate about the environment. When I was done, I poured myself a cup of coffee. Satisfied that I’d done my bit for the community. I sat down to read a review for a just published book, The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, co-authored by Google’s Chairman, Erick Schmidt and his colleague Jared Cohen.
Almost immediately my attention was drawn to the following statement: “The internet is the largest experiment involving anarchy in history.” (“ARTS: Review of reviews; Books,” The Week, May 17, 2013, pg. 23)
I read the sentence a second time and it hit me like a revelation. Fomenting a revolution, that’s what I’d been doing that morning while still in my bathrobe. Admittedly, my experience pales beside those who used tablets and cell phones to participate in the Arab Spring. Still, on that day, I experienced the awesome power of rapid communication and how it could be put to use for social change. I didn’t have to be dressed, or young or old or physically fit. All I needed was information and a computer keyboard.
In their book, Schmidt and Cohen observe that, “ …both traditional powers and the leaders of uprisings will be held to a new standards of accountability by a better informed, more readily mobilized public.” (Ibid pg. 23) I believe them.
(Courtesy of koifishcommunications.com)