Web 2.0’s Fun Forward: “The Machine is Us!”

webcolor.jpg Ever try to explain the phrase Web 2.0 in a digital sound bite?

This brilliantly fun little 4-minute video from professor Michael Wesch of Kansas State University does the trick. This digital ditty is cultural anthropology at its finest; you can bet Marshall McCluhan would be duly impressed.

It captures the power of Web 2.0 in a smart blip of techno-frenzied pace, pouncing from nonlinear thought into new realms of creativity, functionality and purpose.

In under 5 minutes flat he manages to tell the story of new media as the digital darling of our era with VAST potential for making change happen fast. The factoids fly as the music score builds…You just KNOW there’s a crescendo coming with a zinger goosebump-media-moment…Play it again, Sam. Compelling stuff!

He eludes to Web 2.0’s ability to reach thought leaders in far flung locales, breaking cycles of cultural myopia to bridge new understanding…highlighting complex conundrums of media’s digital future, from interdependence to privacy issues in the new frontier.

When Web 2.0 or ANY media spins a web of interconnected links to remote villages there’s bound to be some adverse effects to prisitine environs as well as positive seeds being sown. Sometimes media is simply the messenger for the youth vision itself. Example?

New Zealand’s spirit of Waitaha routed to Shaping Youth via our own podcast guru, Brad Reddersen of Stranova, who opened our eyes to Tipu Ake’s organic leadership all about growing the future by integrating youth and the environment for sustainability.

Tipu Ake particularly resonates with me having grown up in Hawaii’s tropical environs for multiple years.

Their videos come to life through Waitaha, children with “the spirit to hear the plants grow and open their minds to touch the stars.”

This rich Maori concept of wellbeing (“Ora”) is all very wondrous to me. And I never would’ve heard about it without the digital web.

Here’s the full Stranova podcast interview of Peter Goldsbury which Brad conducted on Skype.

Waitaha was able to be planted, nourished, and grow in our souls with poignancy and purpose via the digital web…a magical use of media to impart deeper wisdom.

As one who’s written scads of articles about outdoor appreciation being pivotal to prevent ‘nature deficit disorder,’ it’s not surprising this ‘kiwi concept’ resonates so profoundly.

Sometimes I think media is at its most effective when it comes full circle back to nature, conveying our need to be firmly rooted in the tactile pleasures of real world soil.

Whether it’s realizing a virtual hug won’t replace a real one, or a ‘Second Life’ needs tending as much as the first, sometimes technology serves as a wake up call to bring nature and nurture to the forefront.

Without rejecting media, nature reminds us technology is a mere tool; kind of like using online eco-sites to jump start kids’ outdoor appreciation before blazing a new hiking trail.

My favorite part about new media is that you never know where the conversational touchpoints will land when ‘internet 1.0 meets web 2.0’…

Whether it’s pinging from Brad’s Stranova podcasts to Tipu Ake’s resource web links, our think tank/collaboratory’s aggregated blog, or Shaping Youth’s field or film work with kids in our media enrichment programs, the dialogue just keeps building…

Speaking of conversations…be sure to check out all of Stranova’s current podcasts, they pick some of the most thought-provoking global leaders in the world, not just innovators with a youth focus.

Moms will want to check out his partner’s newly launched site, Offerings, which tells the story of women evolving themselves and their worlds through conversation and purpose. Join in the dialogue!

I’m hoping to highlight the gift of Offerings to honor mothers on May 10th, along with the digital invitation to a global celebration of motherhood from IMOW, the International Museum of Women.

But back to kids, youth and media…

Adults sometimes say it feels like technology is ‘taking over,’ but like any other element in the lives of youth, overwhelm and excess needs balanced with measured opportunity…to expand, expound, or simply open a more meaningful conversation.

This week, youth from New Zealand (again!) were highlighted in the N.Z. Herald for their contributions to the digital earth summit in Auckland.

A mini-entourage of N.Z. representatives will be meeting with our NextNow collaboratory when they arrive in the Bay Area to explore sustainability issues with thought leaders and media mavens among us.

Clearly, youth is already having a huge impact on the digital dialogue in positive ways!

Adults need to see that youth’s role in Web 2.0 is not to dominate or intimidate but to integrate…They’re simply able to embrace its potential faster as it’s familiar.

Beth Kanter’s site has always done a great job of conveying this global vision of how education, techno-adoption and adaptive reasoning can take the digital dialogue wider and make the world a better place at the same time.

As cycle-breakers in the counter-marketing realm, Shaping Youth is excited about digital dialogue too…Short bursts of Web 2.0 internet films can make the rounds (& the point!) in the same way viral videos circle the web in today’s top twenty picks.

We have high hopes that worthy youth media will rise to the top, as vapid celebutante fixations get skimmed off the surface like pond scum.

Ultimately, Web 2.0 is all about inclusivenss and helping to level the playing field…Allowing bigger ideas and stronger dreams for the planet well beyond the confines of mega-media monopolies.

We just need to turn up the volume on positive content so it gets a fair share amidst the copious cacophony of noisy drek. One look at Free Range Studiosviral movies and it’s evident social impact is just a click away!

No doubt about it…

New media’s creative. Inclusive. Empowering. And here to stay. Pardon the pun, but even though I may be far from ‘youth’ …I really, really “Digg it.”


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