David Miliband, UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, maybe one of the few next-generation politicians who just get it. At the Google Zeitgeist 07 (Robert has links to the videos) conference he gave a speech titled “We can: politics for the Facebook generation“. Miliband makes some really good points. (You could say he even restores some faith in politicians’ tech-savvy in general.)
Instead of quoting in length, I’ll just quote some of his main points here and recommend reading his speech:
First, the tools of production are in striking ways being put in the hands of citizens. â€˜I canâ€™ means â€˜I can createâ€™. (…)
Second, the tools of distribution are also open to all of us. â€˜I canâ€™ means â€˜I can connectâ€™. (…)
But there is a third feature of the way technological and social change are coming together. There is not only dispersal of power and flattening of hierarchies; there are also new forms of collective action. â€˜I canâ€™ means â€˜I can collaborateâ€™.
The third change is that coordination at scale is no longer the prerogative either the hierarchies of bureaucracies or the price mechanism of markets â€“ either the helping hand of the state or the invisible hand of the market. Computer programmes like Linux, or encyclopaedias like wikipaedia can be developed through mass participation. (…)
The potential is for social software to create a new age of social activism â€“ with politics enriched by a mixture of flash campaigns and protests, networks such as MoveOn that are neither political parties nor traditional pressure groups, and new forums for deliberation that deepen the engagement of citizens in collective problem solving.
I believe the businesses and government that succeed in the future will be those that give people greater power to shape the future of their individual lives and greater capacity to collaborate. A sense of I can and we can.