Social media and technology are mere catalysts in a global revolution that's altering the very nature of power in our civilization. This movement is mixing the top-down "old power" with a sideways-flowing "new power," according to the 92Y's deputy executive director, Henry Timms.
Timms believes social media is accelerating a people-driven revolution that's transforming everything from political arrangements to business models, organizations to philosophies.
[More from Mashable: Social Platform For Doodles Pushes Bounds of Web Creativity]
"Old power is download power that served the few," said Timms to the Mashable Connect audience in Orlando, Fla. It's a theory in "beta version," he said. "It flows vertically, it is coveted and it sees power as a currency."
However, social media represents the rise of the "new power," a more egalitarian and communal approach to power. In the new power structure, it's uploaders and content creators that hold all the cards. A key difference between the two power structures, however, is that there are more cards held by more players.
[More from Mashable: ElectNext Web Startup Is Making Politics Personal]
"'New power' is upload power," said Timms. "It serves the many, it flows sideways, it shares and it sees the power as a current."
Timms believes that "new power" won't ultimately replace "old power," but the two will coalesce into a new power structure altogether -- the exact likes of which are still unknown.
The "new power," Timms said, lies in the hands of those who embrace the sharing-friendly rise of social media and the changes which it's bringing. On the contrary, those politicians and corporations that use social media as little more than a medium to express the same top-down power as in years past will find control slips through their grasp as the power structure rapidly changes.
"Think about the organizations and people you see as making the most progress," he added. "I would bet you will see new power thinking and new power thinkers at work. Now think about those that are most stalled. I would bet that it is old power thinking holding them up."
However, Timms believes that already powerful entities can stay that way -- if they adapt. The key to becoming successful in the "new power" structure, he said, is a commitment to the lessons of the past and a realization of the potential of new power, a move which requires listening to the global conversation and letting go of the reins a bit.
"The future will belong to the bilingual -- those who are comfortable with the past and can master the future," said Timms.
Timms also took issue with others who are thinking and writing about social media, the changing power dynamic and the future of civilization.
Too many commentators, he believes, see the future as a mere "upgrade of the past" -- the same routine with new technology. It's a notion that's becoming increasing common as the power-holders of yesterday, such as politicians and corporations, increasingly turn to social media as a means to stay relevant.
"We watch entire fields and sectors turning on their heads, altering essentially from what they had been," said Timms. And how do we talk about this? We simply tack on the suffix “2.0:” Journalism 2.0, Government 2.0, Philanthropy 2.0. We describe the future as no more than a simple upgrade of the past."
Timms rejects that notion, instead believing that the the rise of social media and "new power" represents a drastic change in the very fabric of our society. Technology didn't bring about these movements, Timms believes, it merely helped like-minded people find one another and take action.
As an example, Timms pointed to movements such as the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, which he believes were "not so much a 'Twitter revolution' or a 'Facebook revolution' as a 'new power' revolution." While they used technology to organize, they were in actuality reflecting people's desire for fairness and a change in the power distribution.
"This was a change in mindsets more than handsets," added Timms. "Catalyzed by new media but driven by new expectations about power."
What role, if any, do you think social media is playing in a revolution in the global power structure? Tell us in the comments below.
Mashable Connect Sponsors
Buddy Media is the social enterprise software of choice for eight of the world's top ten global advertisers, empowering them to build and maintain relationships with their consumers in a connections-based world. The Buddy Media social marketing suite helps brands build powerful connections globally with its scalable, secure architecture and data-driven customer insights from initial point of contact through point of purchase. For more information, visit http://www.buddymedia.com.
AT&T is bringing it all together for our customers, from revolutionary smartphones to next-generation TV services and sophisticated solutions for multi-national businesses. For more than a century, we have consistently provided innovative, reliable, high-quality products and services and excellent customer care. For more, visit http://www.att.com.
Barnes & Noble College Marketing (BNCM) helps brands thrive on campus. It is a division of Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, LLC., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, Inc. that operates more than 640 college bookstores across the country, serving more than 4.7 million students and faculty members. BNCM has the on-campus access and student understanding to deliver superior marketing programs for its brand partners. BNCM’s capabilities include: experiential and event marketing; product sampling, sweepstakes and promotions; digital marketing (social, email, web); on-campus advertising and postering; and programs targeting freshmen, graduates, alumni and athletic event fans. Visit www.bncollegemarketing.com.
Hiscox specializes in tailored insurance coverage for a range of professional services firms in industries like IT, marketing, consulting and more. Hiscox Insurance Company Inc. has been protecting clients for over 100 years and is rated 'A' (Excellent) for financial strength by A.M. Best.
We offer professional liability insurance, general liability insurance and other policies direct, either online or over the phone, with customized coverage starting from just $22.50/month.
Visit hiscoxusa.com/smallbiz for a fast, free quote now.
Webtrends powers digital marketing success. Webtrends is at the forefront of real-time digital marketing relevance and customer experience management through unified customer intelligence. Our industry-leading analytics across mobile, social and web enables marketers to optimize campaigns, maximize customer lifetime value and deliver highly relevant digital brand experiences in real-time.
Webtrends dramatically improves digital marketing results for more than 3,500 global brands including, in EMEA and internationally, Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, HSBC, ASOS, Orange, T-Mobile, Microsoft, BMW, Toyota, Play.com, AllSaints, The Telegraph, and many more.
Definition 6 is a Unified Marketing Agency that creates brand experiences that unite brands and people in motion. Through imagination, innovation and insight, we execute ideas that deliver continued value across all brand interactions. For more information, please visit http://www.definition6.com.
The Adobe Digital Marketing Suite is an integrated set of applications which allow businesses to gather customer insight and optimize advertising, conversion and retention efforts as well as the creation and distribution of content. For example, using the Suite, marketers can identify the most effective marketing strategies and ad placements as well as create relevant, personalized and consistent customer experiences across digital marketing channels, such as onsite, display, e-mail, social, video and mobile. The Suite enables marketers to automatically adjust to customer interactions and better maximize marketing ROI, which leads to a positive impact the bottom line.
The leading resource for human resource and business leaders to explore and discuss the latest workforce and workplace trends including social innovation—providing the in-depth research and insights needed to adapt and take advantage of what’s next.
This story originally published on Mashable here.