The Institute for the Future is planning a conference on technologies and social change. My feeling is that since around 2000 people have become increasingly aware of how technologies can be used to foster social change. Obviously technologies change our societies, and everyone has their favorite negative impact story, but we’ve really begun to try to leverage the prevalent technologies (and newer ones) to create positive change.
Social Entrepreneuring has become the catch-phrase of the day. I would say that it’s what I’m trying to do when I create digital media programs for kids. I would say that it’s what AirJaldi is doing by expanding the Internet into Northern Indian communities that otherwise wouldn’t have it. And what WSFII members are doing all around the world (similar vein – wireless Internet access). And what Ashoka.org and Ashoka Youth Venture [also see my video interview on AYV – you can log in as a guest] are doing.
From the IFTF announcement by Jackie Copeland-Carson:
A social impact technology field is emerging as multiple innovators creatively apply technology to society’s most compelling social problems. These technologies are powerful tools for building new networks and communities for social action. While technologists work on the cutting edge of locative, crowdsourcing, social media, simulation and gaming, there is a great, untapped need and interest for these technologies among a wide range of social benefit organizations that have limited capacity in this arena.
The Institute for the Future (IFTF) has become an innovator in the application of social media, crowdsourcing, simulation and gaming to the solution of social problems. “Massive, Multi-Player” games scale-up participation and build communities to quickly tap the collective experience and wisdom of people of thousands of people to create ideas that could resolve society’s most pressing challenges. Our award-winning SuperStruct game engaged almost 7,000 people from around the world in designing alternative social structures and practices (Superstruct). Ruby’s Bequest, a partnership with United Cerebral Palsy, is addressing the country’s weakening caregiving system for seniors, aging baby boomers, children and disabled persons. Signtific is IFTF’s global, collaborative research platform, created to identify and facilitate discussion around future disruptions, opportunities and trends in science and technology.