As someone intrigued by the ways in which individuals, communities, organizations and societies coordinate and communicate themselves, raising Extanz and the adoption of social media has provided much food for thought and opportunities for reflection. As someone deeply committed to the practice of good work and also intimately involved with the creation and continued growth of Extanz, I have participated in many an interesting conversation about these issues. As I tell my students in my Good Work class, it really starts with an idea of spirit, or the vision, values and rationality of any group or organization. These collective values are always derived from the people having those conversations and so our ongoing evolution of Extanz reflects the values of its principals. Here is a list of some of the things to which we are committed, as individuals as well as Extanz….
1. good work – that is, work that is excellent and ethical – to engage in work that is meaningful for us, our partners and our communities
2. inclusivity/community - this value comes from our cultured backgrounds – to engage in work that brings people together, in support of a larger purpose and collective
3. sustainability – at both an individual and collective level – to engage in work that encourages the continued sustenance of us as individuals, partners and communities
4. extra-ordinary – this value comes from our cultured experiences – to engage in work that is beyond the norm, edgy, visionary, creative, that stands out (the meaning of Extanz)
Wow, kinda lofty, right? Yes and no. I recently read a blog about parallels between the push for social media and sustainability by Max Gladwell. According to Gladwell, these two movements have some interesting things in common — both are motivated by a new politics, both are driven by a democratization of information and energy, both are determined to lose the adjectives (so that we no longer think of social media but all media as social, nor green energy because all energy will be green), both pose integration challenges for corporate culture, both localize culture as we grow our own ‘content’ and become activated as participants, both are grassroots movements but with top-down results, and the virtues of both are constrained by how we use them.
When I think about the folks who engage with Extanz and social media, I end up with a ‘composite prosumer’ (c.f. Revolutionary Wealth, The Digital Economy, The Cluetrain Manifesto etc). In our experiences, this producer-consumer is also a philosopher-pragmatist; activist-artist; local-global; individual-communal. As Gladwell points out, the often missed but ultimately important part of the phenomenon we call ‘social media’ is the social part. It’s about meaningful and interactive content, meaningful conversations, and meaningful as well as interactive community. As we have discussed in the blogs, it is not about ‘you’ and ‘your organization’. It’s about the ‘us(er)’. So if you’re looking to be part of some thrilling conversations, if you’ve ever wondered just what your ‘audience’ is thinking, it is time to get out there and have a ‘naked conversation’ a la Robert Scoble and Shel Israel.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re for-profit or non-profit (like we can distinguish this way, right?), social media can and will change the/your world. I’ve seen it happen here at Extanz and with our partners.