A change agent, or agent of change, is someone who intentionally or indirectly causes or accelerates social, cultural, or behavioral change. Because of their importance, change agents are the object of scientific research. Captology, developed at the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, for instance, systematically studies how interactive computing products can be used to influence the mind.
Numerous driving forces motivate the behavior of change agents. An agent who is constantly adapting to new practices is often motivated to find better ways to do things. These driving forces may be external–shaped by circumstances outside the agent’s control, such as the state of society or the seasons– or internal–from a desire to make change.
A change agent can also be technology. Consider the changes that have occurred in the last ten years and much has been driven by introduction of technological advances. From the introduction to the World Wide Web, the rapid dominance of Microsoft, the growth and impact of Google and the list goes on. These technological change agents have influenced every sector of society on a global basis. Within the last three years we’ve witnessed significant explosive of social computing software that in of itself is creating explosive change and the extensions of social networks is the fastest growing technological phenomena since the introduction of the world wide web.
Social networking is being discovered and used in many different ways and each new application of the medium creates a new wave of change. The interaction of human and technological change agents is tapping into the societal cry for change and creating non traditional pathways to effect change. Social networks are enabling millions to have a voice on any and all issues and one voice becomes millions at lightening speed. The power of the people is truly be exemplified and enabled while the impacts of these forces are yet to be clearly defined or discovered.
Change comes at different tipping points. The science of social networks leveraged by technology has shown that tipping points of change can happen faster than ever before given the enablement of social computing tools and reach. Tipping points of change are reach when a critical mass of people reaches a level of influence that becomes self perpetuating and at geometric proportions. This phenomena is just being discovered by several social network operators whose membership has reach the tipping point of adoption, i.e. LinkedIn and Facebook.
The wave of change is awakening corporations, institutions and governments to the medium of social networks. Everyday dozens of press releases are announcing new social networks being introduced across literally all segments of business, topics and geography. Non profits are also awakening to the power of social computing to further their causes, to create strong ties to their membership and to create a strong voice in society. A good example of a non profit which is leveraging social networks is appropriately called Changemakers.
Changemakers is an initiative of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public that focuses on the rapidly growing world of social innovation. It provides solutions and resources needed to help everyone become a changemaker and presents compelling stories that explore the fundamental principles of successful social innovation around the world.
Changemakers is building the world’s first global online “open source” community that competes to surface the best social solutions, and then collaborates to refine, enrich, and implement those solutions. Changemakers begins by providing an overarching intellectual framework for collaborative competitions that bring together individual social change initiatives into a more powerful whole.
To keep the framework dynamic, the online Changemakers’s community identifies and selects the best solutions and helps refine them. The result is global action frameworks, drawing on the work of social entrepreneurs, that seed collaborative action and visibility on a global scale–making a big difference, field by field. Changemakers’s Idea Reviewers are regular contributors of commentary and analysis that ensure lively and rich online discussion.
The “open sourcing social solutions(TM)” model aims to challenge the traditional focus of issues like human trafficking and conflict resolution with a broader, more complete set of stakeholders. As such, each one serves as a platform for building a practitioner- and investor-engaged community that sparks new waves of innovation around problems stuck on conventional approaches. To learn more about Changemakers go to changemakers.net
The list of other initiatives across all segments is much too large to share in an article however by now you should conclude the primary point, change is all around you. As individuals we have choices to make every day as our lives are hit with constant changes. There is an expression, people don’t resist change, they resist being changed. As individuals our human nature likes to have some control over changes around us. The proliferation of technological changes in our lives over the last twenty years has facilitated a human adoption curve to the influences of change. However the dynamic that is causing significant disruption is that we the people are learning to use the medium of social networks for the purposes of creating our own change which enables us to have stronger voices and influence over our world. This dynamic has just begun but the tipping point will accelerate changes on the very institutions that have historically controlled the changes that have previously been forced upon us, the human race.
What say you?