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Chronocentrism and Social Entropy?

The increasing emphasis by which we are referring to the rapid and deep-going socio-economic changes created by our generation’s adoption of social media technology has made me wonder at times if we aren’t falling victims of Chronocentrism, believing that the impact of our generation's time in history is superior to all others.

But, then, I try catching-up on health, governmental or environmental issues or try keeping-up with the endless changes in any of the many technology fields I’m so fascinated with, and I find myself believing that NO, we aren’t being chronocentricts.

The social changes our present generations are creating are real and are happening very fast and simultaneously in all the socio-economic, cultural and political fields.

This past weekend, Craig Newmark had a post titled Big news From Washington That Everyone Misses, where he points out some examples of how the U.S. government is getting really serious about giving all Americans a serious voice in running our Federal government.

Whether their efforts are real and succeed or not isn’t the point I’m addressing. What calls my attention is the fact that this conscious effort to engage every citizen in a cost-effective and practical manner can only be possible due to the adoption of social media and open technology by the masses. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is great to see a governmental entity such as CDC consciously recognizing the value and using technology to deal with the H1N1 epidemic.

But the conscious efforts are taking place in all fields. An example is the environmental project Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool EPEAT that engages public and private entities into a collaborative initiative to enable:

...purchasers in the public and private sectors evaluate, compare and select electronic products… based on their environmental attributes.

To quote the person that brought this project to my attention: The premier green ratings program for electronics is based on an entirely stakeholder (public/private/govt./etc.) driven process. This is about people getting together to generate a positive impact where the purchasing power of a few could push environmentally friendly specifications that could help us all. I will provide more information about their successes in the next post.

In that same subject, the BetterBuyProject, a joint effort of the National Academy of Public Administration and the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council in conjunction with the General Services Administration, asks and tries to answer the question:

How can we use collaboration and social media to make the federal acquisition process more efficient and effective?

These are conscious collaboration efforts to both enact needed changes and address social challenges.

Another environmental organization that was submitted to be evaluated for inclusion into the Directory is the non-profit World Wild Life and their corporate and government partnerships. This non-profit organization is bringing the three-sectors (government, non-profits and for-profits) together to collaborate and address major environmental challenges.

A fourth environmental organization submitted for consideration into the Collaborative Society Directory is the Environmental Defense Fund that states its approach as We start with rigorous science. Then we work directly with businesses, government and communities.

These environmental projects, where all sorts of individuals and corporations are actively collaborating to address social challenges, are just few examples of how social forces are coming together, voluntarily, to enact necessary changes. In the next post, Collaborating for the Environment I will expand on these four projects, their successes and learned lessons.

But, going back to my question about us becoming chronocentricts when referring to the changes created by our generation’s adoption of social media technology, I have a hard time believing that it is just us hyping up the importance of our generation. Although I am not a historian nor a sociology or anthropology expert by any stretch of the terms, I venture to question that there has been other generation that has simultaneously created so much change in so many different fields so quickly as we are currently experiencing.

But this leads to another question that often crosses my mind when I see the incredible speed of these changes and it is how much are we witnessing and being part of social entropy in key aspects of our societies.

For one thing, it seems that some socio-economic segments (music, newspapers and TV come to mind) had been investing much of their energy trying to maintain their traditional structures in the face of what now looks like the natural decay of their systems.

Which made me wonder when I read Newmark's post: Can the government actually succeed in giving all Americans a serious voice in running our Federal government? Or is the government simply reacting to the same forces that have changed the music, newspapers and TV industries?

I tend to believe that it is not longer something the government has to give us, but something we already have and the government is having to tap into it and adapt, just like industry at large has been forced to do. I tend to believe our generation is not being chronocentrict, but actually is doing things that surpass the impact of previous generations. I also tend to believe that we are witnessing social entropy in many aspects of our societies.

What do you think?

What is this all about?
The Collaborative Society Directory’s goal is to collect and understand information from different collaborative projects that bring together as participants entities from the three forces that shape our societies: public, private and non-profit. The goal of The Collaborative Society is to explore if such information can provide us with insights of what could be the characteristics that make a society or a community healthy.

(cross posted in Collaborative Society)

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