Why is Everybody Talking About Communities?
That’s a really good question – and if you’ve gotten this far, chances are that you’re looking for an answer! To help you catch a glimpse of the tip of this immense iceberg, I’ve invited our colleague and talented community maven, Rei Dishon, to further explain the mysterious gray area that lies between tech and community.
– Michal Seror
“When we change the way we communicate, we change society.” – Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
An Artist Walks into a Start-up Blog and Talks About Technology…
Yes, it does sound like the beginning of a joke, but technology has a lot in common with art and the arts, and as well as being an entrepreneur, I’m also a fine artist. My first exhibition was 11 years ago, following a four-month artist residency (like a start-up incubator, but for artists) around the topic of “social transformation responsibility” in the north of Italy, at the University of Ideas (UNIDEE) at the Pistoletto Foundation.
Enough About Me – Let’s Focus on Technology and Society
In today’s world, we are completely surrounded by technology, to the extent that it sometimes seems as though we forget the meaning and essence of it. When I give lectures, I sometimes ask the audience to tell me what technology is in two or three sentences. The sort of answers that I get more frequently are “tools, innovation, electronics, computers” and the like. In other words, people tend to describe what technology does, rather than what it is.
Going Back to the Source
If you check out Wikipedia (rather than the Webster’s Dictionary that sits on a shelf at my parents’ house), the word “technology” comes from the Greek techne (τέχνη) meaning “art, skill, cunning of hand”, and logia (λογία), which is used variously in ancient writings and modern scholarship in reference to communications of divine origin. Essentially, technology means “the science of craft” – the way in which we know how to perform the best of what we want (or need) to do.
What is Technology, Anyway?
Often, people confuse technology with digital or electronic items, although they are not necessarily connected. For example, if we want to draw a line, there are several ways in which we can do this. We can use a pencil and ruler – an old-school technology that post-dates fire by a few years. We can use Moovit, an Israeli app that allows you to “draw” the fastest and/or shortest line between A and B using public transportation. We can even use Eggxyt, an Israeli start-up solution that helps sort between male and female chicken embryos from the beginning of their lifecycle. It’s all a question of what you want to mark, draw or define with that “line” and who is executing it, using what tools, and according to which methodologies. Over time, technology enables society to draw these “lines” on a considerably larger scale, with far higher capacity, much faster speed, and with a much greater sense of immediacy.
More Connected Than Ever Before
The recently published 2018 Global Digital suite of reports from We Are Social and Hootsuite revealed that there are now more than four billion people around the world connected to the internet. This incredible fact means that besides being the most technologically advanced iteration of humankind in history, this generation of global humanity is more connected than ever before.
A Radically Changing Society
Last week in London, we saw the first European Facebook Communities Summit take place. During the events, new features were announced that will empower Facebook communities, and help their leaders to better manage and guide them. Following an announcement made last June that Facebook were changing their vision from “connecting people” to “empowering communities,” Facebook also launched a new global program for community leaders, along with millions of dollars worth of prizes for unique and most impactful communities. Our society is more connected than ever, and all the more in search of a sense of belonging and meaning.
Many recent trends that we are seeing, including the creative class movement, the Arab spring, and the growth of urbanization are led by the development of technology, infrastructure, and hyper-connectivity, together with the people to whom we are connected, and the “creators” of media, information, and values that we pass back and forth in our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
And We Still Have Questions
The internet is connecting us, but how can start-ups enable and help us to build, reconstruct, and re-institutionalize our society to create our future?
What qualities and abilities do we need to move from one level to another – and where is it that we are trying to reach?
All these questions will be discussed, and maybe even answered, along with even more questions, at the International Start-Up Community Leaders Summit (2018 ISCL Summit), to be held on March 19-21, 2018. Hope to see you there!
Rei is the speaker curator of the 2018 ISCL Summit and the founder of CommAgain.org – an institute for community culture. Rei has a degree in industrial design, focusing on social and sustainable design, from the H.I.T. Academy. Rei was the curator of “State of Mind” – the first startup/innovation visitor center in Israel by Taglit Birthright Israel. He is the founder iartists.org – a community of pro fine artists. Rei is one of the regional contacts of Burning Man in Israel, and part of the Midburn Foundation.
He is also a cofounder of ArtspaceTLV.org – a nonprofit gallery and a visitor center in south Tel Aviv and a member of the ROI Community of the Schusterman Foundation.