The World Economics Forum 2010 has just wrapped up in Davos, Switzerland. I was watching the session on Technology for Society, a panel discussion with some notable participants from the public and private sectors, including Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.
They spoke of advances, directions, barriers and issues. Interesting perspectives which occasionally outlined a future with no path to get there. There was something missing.
The hour-long discussion repeatedly focused on ‘clouds’ and ‘networks’ and ‘mobile’, i.e.: infrastructure, and the individual projects each was working on to make the world a better place. Certainly laudable, but I kept waiting for someone to start talking about social tools and their impact. I was waiting for them to start talking about people. It was not until the moderator brought this up near the end of the talk that the topic came to light. How odd. Thinking about solving world problems and not thinking about people.
And that’s the problem. These gentlemen, (curiously not a female on the panel) it seems, are making the world a better place from inside a bubble. They proclaim the technologies are there, the future is here, and now “delivery systems” must change.
Systems that deliver to people. Who are not part of the discussion.
This is classic old school: we envision, we decide, we build, they come. End of discussion. But if they are not consuming these readily-available solutions, and if there are still plenty of world issues for technology to solve, there’s a willingness issue.
Willingness comes from motivation, and in the social universe, motivation comes from including people as peers:
Adoption and growth will occur when both producer and consumer move from points of view to peer of view. It’s a model that benefits all actors in the process:
- Producers get direct feedback and direction from consumers
- Producers can allow consumers to become part of creation, and support - removing costs and burdens from producers
- Consumers know their input directly affects the outcome
- Interim actors, required to facilitate a process between producer and consumer, also have the opportunity to fine tune a process
A collaborative, even crowd-sourced approach is the catalyst needed for greater benefit of technology for society.