Saturday, July 26, 2008

Organize Something

There are moments in your work where you start to think about breaking free of the projects that are in front of you and doing something completely different. That happens to me whenever I read the paper or a blog post about someone coming up with an interesting media site, or a new set of functionality where everyone goes "Ah, yes..." (It is at these times that I remind myself that I AM actually doing what I want to do and broke free of another, older life...oh well, that is just me.)

There is that urge to be the sole genius or even the person with the special gaze that can see disparate pieces that really form a coherent pattern. That is certainly what popular culture likes to laud, but I think there is an equally interesting, and potentially more important, impulse.

Organize Something

Many of the original fortunes of the Internet were built on organizing: organizing book sales, organizing auctions, organizing information, etc. There is still a lot of organizing left to be done and not just for the marketplace. (Though that is a sweet opportunity for the big payout.)

If anything, public purpose media has TOO many rich targets for organizing. The marketplace is, frankly, a mess.

The uber-post Web 2.0 thinking for me came awhile ago in Umair Hacque's A Manifesto for the Next Industrial Revolution, which urges us to "organize" a bunch of very important somethings, he writes:

"A blueprint for the next industrial revolution emerges. Here’s what it looks like.

Organize the world's hunger.
Organize the world’s energy.
Organize the world’s thirst.
Organize the world's health.
Organize the world's freedom.
Organize the world's finance.
Organize the world's education."

Well, let's not ever suggest that Umair is a small thinker...but this list is not a bad place for public purpose media thinkers to start as well. There is plenty of fragmentation in the delivery of services and information above where media can play a strong role in helping to improve lives.

The Role of Fragmentation
Before I go off on organizing, let me say there is definately a role for fragmentation in the world. For one, fragmentation can often represent creativity. After Katrina there were hundreds, if not thousands of sites started on bringing people news and information on what was happening. As the tools for the creation and distribution of content/funcationlality drive to ubiquity we get a great unleashing of creativity, but at the same time we are awash in stuff. Stuff on the Internet is everywhere.

Pick Up Your Stuff

In particular I like something that appeared on the Broadstuff blog in response to a string of thinking about Hacque's challenge. In particular I like this bit:

People would rather live with a problem they can't solve than a solution they don't understand. There is a risk of applying the most modern technologies to problems that can be more simply solved....In my view Web media have especially high impact potential as they:

  • Reduce transaction costs
  • Access to correct information
  • Allow people to self organise
  • New financial structures
These seem to me to be the perfect corallory to Hacque's grand vision and provide a set of guiding rule as we think about media with a public purpose's response to the opportunities presented in organizing our world.

No comments: