Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Social networking as an essential driver for effective green technology

Posted in business and convergent technologies, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on March 29, 2010

Green technology in particular and environmentalism in general, as workable approaches, need to simultaneously meet the needs, objectives, priorities and preferences of a wide range of constituencies and voices. A word like compromise is not particularly welcome for most of these groups as they promote their agendas. But ultimately any approaches to designing and implementing green, and in green technology or in the wider sense of environmental protection will require buy in from multiple often conflicting perspectives. Otherwise any agreements reached will be more promise than follow-through with cheating at the edges if nothing else.

This point of discussion carries with it a very important underlying assumption – that the groups and constituencies out there all actually have an effective voice and that they be heard for it. Historically this has not always been the case with larger groups and organizations selecting and filtering to address the issues and concerns of the most powerful factions in their memberships, and with these groups and organizations having bigger voices, more easily and frequently heard. And when governmental regulation and law is concerned, not all ears carry equal significance in the impact of these voices and lobbying enters the picture with amendments and earmarks and other ways to gain special preference in the decision making process.

Social networking and online social networking in particular hold potential to shift the balance in all of this, and certainly as people develop and find resources for coming together with progressively finer granularity of local, perspective, and issue. Ubiquitous computing and communications with its all the time and everywhere capabilities brings real strength to this trend as smaller geographically dispersed groups and individuals who share common concerns and goals but who would normally never find each other can now come together in shared voice to promote change.

This can mean otherwise small and disconnected communities coming together to collectively assemble and tell compelling stories and with a combined vote in both the polling booth and the marketplace. To bring this out of the abstract with a specific technology that is anything but green that is promoted as a path to energy independence, consider hydrofracking (also called hydraulic fracturing). This is, in very brief outline a process for releasing shale oil and shale gas from bedrock formations rich in them to make it easier and more cost effective to capture them for use.

Smaller communities, small farm owners and organic growers and others are starting to come together from many places throughout the United States to challenge proposals to change and redefine environmental law to allow this in areas with underlying shale oil and gas deposits but that have critically important watersheds as well. These groups and individuals work together on this issue in collaboration with people who live in areas that can offer data on the effects of hydrofracking from their communities where this process has been used with the tremendous volumes of water that are injected deep into the bedrock to create fracture systems, and with the many chemicals added to it to facilitate this process – many of which are very toxic and even known carconogens and teratogens.

The goal of these groups in addressing this issue is to develop a collective say in any decisions that are made that would directly impact on them, their families and their communities – in the face of corporate public relations and marketing campaigns and lobbying efforts.

• This type of organized social networking, bringing together people who would otherwise remain silent and alone is important where individual and community needs and priorities are in conflict with those of the more traditionally organized and vocal.
• This type of organized social networking coming directly from the grass roots allows for and supports voices and visions without the filtering and selection of larger more traditional umbrella organizations, and it can and does force these organizations to consider a wider perspective as they seek to remain relevant.

To pick up on the example of hydrofracking again, this is one possible approach to resolving a very genuine and important issue: our need to develop greater energy independence so we are less reliant for our economic stability on regions of the world that can be anything but stable, and whose interests, priorities and values can markedly differ from our own. We do hold vast stores of shale oil and gas and in principle tapping into that would substantially solve this problem, and certainly for the coming decades and even for the next century and more. But we also face substantially important problems and issues in protecting our environment and in limiting global warming and the degradation of our air and water. And the groups that focus on one of these basic issues: energy, do not necessarily view the other core issue affected here with the same priority as would the people who would have to live with the direct and immediate consequences of their solutions for resolving their issue.

Effective online social networking and our emerging ubiquitous computing and communications systems and networks are creating opportunity for a countering voice that would bring all of the relevant underlying issues and needs to the front. Out of that, more balanced and long-term effective solutions will be found and developed. I am not trying to say we will always see the best resolution to any and every issue when widespread and fine grained public voices are empowered and heard, but we can strive to limit the likelihood and scope of bad solutions being enacted. And I come back to that word compromise and finish this posting noting that it can be in selecting the best solution to a problem but at least as importantly it can be in framing and defining the problems to be solved, and that can bring in whole new ranges of possible solutions that would not otherwise have been found to even consider.

My next posting on green technology is going to look more specifically into approaches for organizing and cultivating online communities to define and address specific issues. And I will start with the basics in the taxonomy of a network and on how online social networking groups work and can be enabled to work better.

This is a second posting on green technology, written in continuation of All the time and everywhere, and green – moving towards a more responsive computing and communications framework.

5 Responses

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  1. […] • All the Time and Everywhere, and Green – moving towards a more responsive computing and communications framework. • Social Networking as an Essential Driver for Effective Green Technology. […]

  2. […] • All the Time and Everywhere, and Green – moving towards a more responsive computing and communications framework. • Social Networking as an Essential Driver for Effective Green Technology. […]

  3. Social Computing Platforms said, on April 12, 2010 at 9:00 am

    […] Read the original here: Social networking as an essential driver for effective green … […]

  4. Social Network Specialist said, on April 12, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    […] more here: Social networking as an essential driver for effective green … Tags: a-second-posting, basics, green-technology, how-online, network-and, posting-on-green, […]

  5. […] link: Social networking as an essential driver for effective green … a-network-and, basics, taxonomy, […]


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