What is the true potential of a networked planet? How do we use all this great social technology to develop a new operating system for society – one that creates abundance, sustainability, and lasting value? What do we need to do to improve the quality of life for ourselves and our communities?
These are the questions many of us having been asking ourselves as we move through these uncertain times. As more of us embrace the notion that we’re all connected, we find ourselves looking for new ways to realize the greater potential of all these connections. Whether it’s engaging in collaborative consumption, building the commons, using complementary currencies, or taking advantage of open source tools – there’s a visceral sensation that a new infrastructure for ‘how things work’ is under construction.
To celebrate and accelerate this development, we’re holding a summit called Contact in NYC next month.
I’ve been working on putting this event together with Douglas Rushkoff since the beginning of the year. Rushkoff, an author and media theorist, was a professor of mine last year as I finished up my Masters in Media Studies at the New School for Social Research.
In class, he would speak rather nostalgically about the early days of the net, when going online was about self-expression, experimentation, sharing and forming community. Then he’d critique the current state of affairs – a web usurped by corporate power to become yet another platform for marketing to consumers.
I, of course, was seeing just the opposite. Examples were online everywhere pointing to a resurgence of peer to peer activity and the rising awareness of what we can do as a networked society. I really wanted the chance to prove to him that it was real. So when he called me earlier this year and proposed we put on an event to “reclaim the net,” I took the opportunity.
Now we’re less than a month from the big day, and we have an international roster of amazing people converging on New York City to celebrate the possibilities our social technologies are enabling.
We have founders and representatives from organizations you’ve probably heard of, like Foursquare, Meetup.com, Kickstarter, Etsy, and MoveOn.org. There are also plenty of others working on things that may be lesser known, but critical in the development of a future we want – like creating the tools and policies to protect our civil liberties online, building community software to help groups share and exchange resources, and advancing culture via arts and learning initiatives.
In addition to an afternoon of participant-led breakout discussions, we’re also hosting a two hour long Bazaar and exhibitor space, where people can demo their projects with the chance of being awarded one of three $10K prizes to help them push their mission forward.
We hope Contact will be a milestone in an ongoing conversation and set of actions that bring us closer to our connected vision of the future.