‘Practical Techie:’ The web is the great mobilizer

Written by  //  July 9, 2013  //  Biz Views  //  No comments

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Author Rafael Matos is professor of multimedia at a private university and director of the Caribbean Multimedia Center, a nonprofit media lab focusing on closing the digital divide. Questions should be sent to cccrafael@gmail.com.

Author Rafael Matos is professor of multimedia at a private university and director of the Caribbean Multimedia Center, a nonprofit media lab focusing on closing the digital divide. Questions should be sent to cccrafael@gmail.com.

The ability to organize is the basis of life. A true foundation of a civilized world. As the world turns, so change the methods of bringing humans together to a point of common interest. In the field of commerce, to a point of sale.

The last 25 years have wrought such a profound change in the way humans interact and organize that it has left many of us dizzy.

Yet, this flux, if understood minimally can bring many profitable advantages to people who do business through the communication channels of cyberspace. Why? Because the web has become a prime human form of organization.

In fact, the most dynamic gathering of people in all of history. The Internet has made possible that more than a billion people can converse and work out issues together on a daily basis with simple keystrokes.

We see it in the news. The Arab Spring and its sequels; the movement at lighting speed of commodities through the digital word trade markets; and, instant funding for startup companies by straightforward crowd funding maneuvers.

From the elite to the masses
In the old days, only the elite had access to massive forms of organization. Be it an army, a political party, a factory or a corporation, all needed strong capital and consummate expertise. Getting people to gather for a unique purpose required physical space and expensive logistics.

Organizations needed buildings with offices, meeting rooms, reception areas and lodging facilities. If the enterprise were in manufacturing, it required production lines, specific tools, heavy machinery, warehousing and trucking or railroading.  If it were a multitudinous endeavor, a severe bureaucracy had to be put in place, supervisors and crowd bosses were needed to exercise control and direction.

All very time consuming and expensive.

These days we can mobilize masses through crowdsourcing all along five different time zones during a mere three-hour session on a portable laptop under a mango tree.

Nowadays, we can print out three-dimensional products on a desktop, contact via email some 100,000 clients and move the merchandise globally with a click of a few digital commands. Or, maybe set up a virtual department store, a real estate business or a digital book publishing firm with a simple connection to a server, maybe a wireless set up or with Skype and a password to the computing cloud.

Well, it may not be that easy, but almost. It’s definitely less hectic now than it was for our forefathers when they tried to put together any human enterprise on a large scale.

Learn and practice, a lot
We just need to know how to do it with the new technologies.

But, herein lies a problem.

There are no academies to learn how to provoke the collapse of a government via social media. No university teaches how to organize peers to help mass market online a new type of cybernetic T-shirt.  No school enrolls people to teach how to organize an efficient non-governmental group online to help world citizens recycle plastic bottles before we drown in a sea of waste.

Yet, it’s possible. We just need to learn how and practice a lot. By ourselves.

Luckily, the web itself provides remedy.

One key tool is knowing how to search what’s in the Web. Learning to navigate cyberspace will help to find anything, and it’s all we require to mobilize crowds.  All we need is a few crucial “key” words and knowing which search engine to use.

I say “which” because there is life after Google. In my last count, I estimated there are more than 3,000 search engines online. Some powerful and inclusive, some specialized only in just one type of content.

One only needs to know this first: a search engine is nothing more than a digital data base. A humongous list of things organized in a very algorithmic fashion. This meaning that one item leads to another, link by link.

This explains why key words are so crucial. One definition will lead to another, infinitely until one finds the information you seek. The rhythm of algorithm.

With the right info on hand, one can mobilize, organize or convoke a huge crowd to a cause. Or at least, call attention to a product or service we are selling. The web will lead to, by its organizational nature, not only to future clients, but also to networking partners. Human mass. Throngs of people we can connect to for any practical purposes.

So, to become adept, one must practice adequate web navigation. It’s a lonely, silent and slow ritual.

In the long run, the benefits to a business can be priceless.

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