Friday, February 11, 2011

Thank You Facebook: Message from Egypt

I've been watching the amazing pictures out of Eqypt today as people raise their voices, risk their lives in the pursuit of freedom and democracy. At one point, the demonstrators were being quoted as chanting "Thank You Facebook". This made me pause. I think we all appreciate and understand to some extent the significant impact which the internet, social media and all the related developments have on the business community and maybe on the way we as Americans socialize and interact. However, this is an example of the far reaching impact of broadband, internet etc on the world in which we live. It is not just a business, marketing, communication, an IPO etc. its really about empowerment. The internet empowers people. It levels playing fields. It enables the few to speak like the many. The weak to speak like the powerful. Would the Egyptian revolution have taken place without Facebook? In a world where the margin of victory is quite small, maybe the answer is yes. Will we look back years from now and realize that while we thought we knew, we really had no appreciation for how this technology changed the world. A good friend of mine, David Walsh, told me a story about how during college his Professor assigned him a project to go out and find the next great disruptive development which would change the world. David was a bit overwhelmed so his professor gave him access to a new service they had at the college which was designed to help educators and professors collaborate. They called it the Internet. (Al Gore was still as Senator). David spent months searching and analyzing new developments using his password to "the Internet" In the end, he wrote his paper and only later in life did he realize that the answer to the Professors project: "What technology or product with change the world the most?" was in face the very tool he was spending all his time using to seek the answer.

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