We've Been Inspired, Now It's Time for Action

Last week I came to the Bay Area to attend Web 2.0 Summit and it ended up being one of the most historical weeks in this country’s history. Following the election of Barack Obama there was a huge wave of inspiration that was felt throughout those attending the Summit and based on the news articles I’ve read, the entire world.

Whether or not you voted for Barack Obama, there is now doubt that the belief in the American Dream has been revived within this country. Without it, we could have not elected the first African American President. Without going on about the numerous emotions felt this week, I wanted to express some of the most important takeaways for me personally.

Must Move Beyond the Hype

Al Gore said something which was extremely important:

When people are displaying interactivity or user generated content or social networking or whatever, that’s kind of the gee-whiz stuff. I’m not trying to diminish that at all but I am saying that I think our challenge really, those of us who are excited about the speedier development of the full potential that we have here. We need to move past that as quickly as possible to a time where all those features are just taken for granted, and is just like the water the fish doesn’t know it’s swimming in, and how do we get there.

I couldn’t have agreed more. I spend day after day talking about each feature that every social networking site adds, each new platform that they launch on, and theorize about where all of this is going. Yesterday for instance, one of the popular stories in the tech blogosphere was that LinkedIn had added events to their site.

Yes, it is great to see them adding such features, and yes it is great to watch where all of this is going, but it’s time to focus on the bigger picture. Many of us though are already taking advantage of these new technologies (social networks, social media, etc) to communicate more effectively with each other.

The Energy Revolution

There are numerous crises taking place around the world today. Whether it’s the two wars we’re involved in, the financial crisis, or most importantly the energy crisis we are facing, there is a revived sense of urgency. One thing that Al Gore said yesterday particularly inspired me and I felt that it was important to share it with as many people as possible. While I can’t find the exact words he said, this is in essence the story he shared:

In 1961, John F. Kennedy stood before the American people and asked Congress to provide the funds necessary to put a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth. The funds were granted and the mission was achieved. On the day that we landed on the moon, the average age in the control room at NASA was 26 which means that on the date of the announcing the mission, the average age of those individuals was 18. The young ones will also be the ones that are going to help develop the tools necessary to achieve complete energy independence.

While the numerous other crises facing this country are of equal or greater importance, it is important not to lose focus from energy related issues as it contributes substantially to global instability.

We Have the Ability to Get There

It’s time to start a movement. Al Gore sat down yesterday and told Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle that he feels as though he has failed. While he regularly instills the sense of urgency into those individuals that get to see him speak live, within a short period of time that sense of urgency is gone and most people fail to act.

Yes, switching out your light bulbs is one component of solving the energy crisis. I believe though, that given our knowledge of social media and our ability to spread ideas faster than ever before, we are properly positioned to drive the change necessary to accomplish extremely challenging goals. As we wait for a complete agenda to be put forth by the new Obama administration, it’s time to start preparing to leverage our expertise in social media and social technology to help drive change.

Whether you agree or disagree with everything that the new administration proposes, they are at least listening and that’s a hell of a lot better then before. The way to have the loudest voice is through social media, so use it for change and the betterment of the world. Below is part of Gore’s talk at Web 2.0 Summit provided by CNET.