The Promise of Social Media

Events like those unfolding in Japan put things in perspective for me this week. SXSW seems so hard to think about when a Tsunami wave from Japan was captured on video in our backyard of Emeryville, CA:

Case in point but on a much smaller scale—a short blog post by Seth Godin also put things in perspective for me this week. He describes how the “drive-by technorati” regularly announce the death of different technologies. Yet, they generally aren’t involved in the “real work of creating work that matters and lasts.” It’s hard not to agree with Mr. Godin. You certainly can innovate in old spaces—for example: coupon delivery.

Thanks to Groupon, digital coupons have become the hot topic. But is this really the space in which Facebook should innovate? Coupon delivery? Social media’s most predominant and powerful platform could be thinking about new ways to make technology more personal, how to affect real third-party change in technology so that it is more social and, hopefully, useful to people. Would Steve Jobs, after hearing about the Facebook announcement, sit in his office and think, “Good thing they really get the idea behind the iPhone.”

Facebook has the potential to radically change our national education system, the ability to fundamentally alter how democracy in the United States works to serve the citizens, and the reach to inspire millions of people to do more good in the world than they do right now.

Too lofty? I don’t think so. Look at the recent effort by Craig Newmark with his newly announced Craigconnects project. Or what Twitter co-founder Biz Stone will take on with his new role as “strategic adviser for social impact” across the Huffington Post Media Group and the rest of AOL’s assets by developing a platform to help people share their work in their local community. He will create a video series about people and companies at the “forefront of philanthropy and corporate responsibility.” To quote Arianna Huffington, “Since one of our key goals is to explore and spotlight innovative ways that our company – as well as others – can do good, I’m thrilled that Biz Stone will be our strategic partner in this important endeavor.”

Mobile will play a massive role in getting big ideas off the ground. There is real innovation yet to come. I love the energy around social and mobile technology. This week just has me wishing for something bigger than a mobile coupon.