Monday, February 22, 2010

WEEKLY BLOG #3: Changes on the Way People Communicate Changes Society

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations is a book I just started reading on what happens when people are given the tools to do things together, without needing traditional organizational structures. Author Clay Shirky elaborated a fascinating thesis that we’re now going from a world where the media’s role to inform changes to a new role of sharing and collaborative action to bring change. Shirky also noted that changes on the way people communicate changes society (more on embedded video below).

As a Filipino, I witnessed first-hand the power of social media particularly text messaging to influence change. The citizen revolution in 2001 also known as "People Power 2" was a successful display of powerful organizing and social media's role in overthrowing a government. As one blogger described the event, the most vocal, most determined and most organized participants in the uprising were armed with cellphones.

Changes in the media landscape are happening right before our eyes and the ramifications to society are powerful and often unpredictable. But as the People Power revolution in the Philippines revealed, communications tool doesn’t bring change but the people who use it. Millions of people around the world are drawn to digital communication like text messaging, Facebook and blogs because it gives users a voice and empowers everyone to influence others with their message. A right innately desired and pursued by all human beings – freedom. But with freedom comes with responsibility.

A country’s Bill of Rights was developed to guarantee basic freedom and rights to all its citizens. It ensures civil liberties like speech, assembly and religion. Its authority encompasses all human organizations including the social web.

Bloggers agree that a digital Bill of Rights is imperative to maintain order and civility in the social web. The document is to ensure the protection of all users from serious issues like copyright infringement and privacy violations that plagues social media from time to time because of the irresponsibility of others and can tarnish the affirmative reputation of the social web.

Social media has a positive potential to be a catalyst for social change and developing an official document or list is necessary to strengthen its credibility and prevent any forms of abuse. But more than the Bill of Rights, what the social web really needs is a Bill of Responsibility or Code of Ethics to bring back common sense and integrity to all its users. Because people who are responsible and accountable means a bright and sustainable change for everyone.

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