What Is The Power of Conversations?

by Jay Deragon on 03/05/2008

What Is The Power of a Conversation? Today’s social networks provide the means for people to engage in streams of conversations about anything and everything, one to one to millions. However, when the diverse networks, and the related conversations, become seamlessly interconnected by the current “shift” to “open source” then these streams of conversations become rivers of force and influence.These conversational rivers are a powerful force that transmits influence throughout the landscape of the human network. The Human Network is the millions of individuals standing on the riverbanks of conversations. Today the conversational rivers are divided by technological constraints or silo networks disconnected.

Tomorrow there will be no divides and the conversational rivers will connect and flow freely across the landscape of the human network. Once these conversational rivers intersect they will grow in force and swell in size eventually dumping into the sea of “media” and creating waves of change unforeseen and disruptive in nature.

Will Conversations Create Social Change?

The current presidential race is all about conversations with voters. Conversations about change. DAVID BROOKS writes in The New York Times: Obama sketched out a different theory of social change than the one Clinton had implied earlier in the evening. Instead of relying on a president who fights for those who feel invisible, Obama, in the climactic passage of his speech, described how change bubbles from the bottom-up: “And because that somebody stood up, a few more stood up. And then a few thousand stood up. And then a few million stood up. And standing up, with courage and clear purpose, they somehow managed to change the world!”

For people raised on Jane Jacobs, who emphasized how a spontaneous dynamic order could emerge from thousands of individual decisions, this is a persuasive way of seeing the world. For young people who have grown up on Facebook, YouTube, open-source software and an array of decentralized networks, this is a compelling theory of how change happens.

The social web is the new marketplace of influence fueled by conversations and relationships formed at the intersection of people and technology. There are three categories of activity which are fueled and enabled by conversations. These are: transactions, conversations and relationships. Doc Searls writes “Networked markets are beginning to self-organize faster than the companies that have traditionally served them. Thanks to the web, markets are becoming better informed,” Some of Doc’s key points are:

  • These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.
  • As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.
  • People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products.
  • There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.
  • What’s happening to markets is also happening among employees. A metaphysical construct called “The Company” is the only thing standing between the two.
  • Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman.
  • In just a few more years, the current homogenized “voice” of business—the sound of mission statements and brochures—will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court.smarter, and more demanding of qualities missing from most business organizations.

The rivers of conversations are swelling and the force behind them is creating power, power to the people. In a short period of time the power will accelerate and a shift will occur. Knowing it is coming is the first step towards using the power effectively.

What say you?

{ 1 comment }

Christian Grantham March 11, 2008 at 7:08 pm

I’ll take two.

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