The Internet is now acknowledged as the new Great Equalizer (effectively replacing the classic, “death and taxes”), thanks to its promise to bridge the gap between the information haves and have-nots. Indeed, being a knowledge worker, I am one of those who have benefited immensely from the World Wide Web.
Working at my own pace from the comforts of my own home, I like to think that I am living the dream, safe from the elements, away from the madding crowd.
And yet, every so often, I have felt detached. Disconnected.
While, occasionally, I do get to meet some interesting people I would otherwise not encounter, I have also wondered if, somehow, I have allowed my online relationships to outnumber my “real” ones. Thinking old school, should I try to reverse this trend? Should I give up the dream, return to the rat race, and go back to “real life”, just to have that kind of connection again?
Web 2.0 = Women 2.0
When I first toyed with Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites, I considered them an amusing pastime. Sure, I touched base with old friends, even made a few new ones; and we try to catch up with each other’s lives. Still, I thought, is this all there was to it?
And then, I started to catch on to the possibilities. I saw some early adopters demonstrating how the connecting powers of these new technologies could help create scale…how Web 2.0 is opening doors to people who want to do good so they can do even better… how a simple “poke” to a total stranger could turn into a life-changing event.
I saw Granovetter’s “weak ties” concept coming to life like the proverbial light bulb. Web 2.0 is an enabler, I discovered, that gives an entirely new definition to six degrees of separation. Ultimately, I realized, every connection counts.
Thus, I am grateful to have come across some truly inspiring women who use the Internet as a tool for empowerment, making their own voices heard, telling tales of other women who cannot even enjoy access to information as a basic right.
Barack Obama said recently that “knowledge is the currency of the 21st century”. Doing what I do, indeed, knowledge is my personal currency and so, this form of scarcity is unthinkable.
The Real Currency
Today, working with nonprofit organizations and social enterprises from the other side of the world—many of them led by women—I have realized I need not give up the dream just to be able to reconnect with humankind.
All I need is a change of paradigm.
I am connected. I am able to impact the lives of people, not only through technology, but through people. It is my partners who work in the grassroots that help turn my visions into reality. And Web 2.0 helps provide this synergy.
Connections, more than knowledge, are the more valuable currency.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Empowerment and Web 2.0.