‘the End of Big’: Tech and the Power of Individuals

April 7, 2013

From the moment you hear the title of this audio book, ‘The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath’, your interest should be piqued. We live in an era of unparalleled connectivity, and a huge portion of the world population now uses computers, smartphone, tablets, and other devices that allow them to access a worldwide web of information, including history, geography, current events, international media, and pretty much everything they ever wanted to know about anything. In addition, we are capable of instantly connecting to other individuals across the globe. We can meet people, join groups, and engage in outreach efforts at the push of a button, creating a global community that crosses all borders. In short, the internet has changed the way we interact and behave, and this has shifted the societal balance, putting power directly into the hands of everyday citizens. Author Nicco Mele, a social media pioneer (amongst other things) delves into this growing trend in order to look at both the benefits and drawbacks associated with such a power shift.

Generally speaking, people don’t put much stock in the power of a smartphone as a catalyst for change. Sure it can help you find directions, look up useless factoids to prove your friends wrong, or allow you to communicate with your mom without actually having to talk to her, but you may doubt that it can give you the power to make significant change in the world around you. And yet, smartphones were blamed for fueling the London riots in 2011. In fact, this incident was later dubbed the “BlackBerry riots” due to the fact that these devices were a key tool used to organize rioters.

And what about the vast resources provided by the internet? Without the opportunities for outreach offered by the internet, Barack Obama may not have been elected President, regardless of whether or not he was actually the best candidate. But thanks to his grass-roots, online approach that appealed to tech savvy first-time voters, he was able to do what most politicians assumed he would be unable to accomplish. And he continues to use the medium that first brought him success by delivering addresses via YouTube rather than just television.

But the truly incredible aspect of all this connectivity, according to Mele, is that it has put the power for change squarely in the hands of the people. With modern technology on our side we could streamline nearly every aspect of societal regulation, from trash collection to public safety, ostensibly removing the need for large-scale governance. The only problem is that there are certainly unscrupulous people and organizations out there that are smart enough to use these new technologies to manipulate others in order to advance their own agenda (what else is new?). So while you might think that your new smartphone provides little more than a good excuse to peruseĀ Samsung Galaxy S4 Accessories, and that your tablet is only good for playing ‘Simpsons: Tapped Out’, the truth is that these devices are changing the way we live as individuals and as a society, and you are already a part of it. The only question is how much responsibility you want to take in the technology revolution, and how much you’re willing to cede to others.

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