TED Conversations

Roger Farinha

Founder, New American Spring

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If you could do an ideological project with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, what would it be?

To be a TEDster, one must be a big dreamer. I dream of a massive face-to-face community network designed to revitalize traditional community, with the secondary but priceless effects of reforming US adult citizenship, and US youth character formations. This network must moreover have a social-networking, technological dimension. I can think of no person more suited to this side of my ideological project, than Mark Zuckerberg himself. He has demonstrated his ideological prowess and has arrived as one of the top technological geniuses of our time. Yet I feel I have the community organizational genius to design a face-to-face network equaled to his social network in Facebook--if only he would go to work for me, pro Bono; and be willing to write a whole new social networking dimension for my nonprofit organizational movement in New American Spring. (www.newamericanspring.org)

What would YOUR dream be, had you the opportunity to work with an accomplished social entrepreneur?

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      Dec 5 2012: I'm actually in full agreement with you that most successful people are not head and shoulders smarter than the rest-- they were mainly in the right place at the right time. Human beings are very limited creatures, and we are more subjects of accident than self-mastery. And yes indeed, pride is our greatest enemy.

      I was saying in my own mind the other day, after hearing a quote from a famous and successful person about being successful (I don't remember the quote), but I counter quoted: "Nay. The best we can do in life is to strive our very best to do what we love." Not even "do what you love." Because not all of us have the wherewithal to even do what we love. Yet we can all strive our best and sincerest.

      That's all I'm doing...
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        Dec 5 2012: I think it is honorable what you are doing - no complains - but what got Mark Zuckerberg to do with your ideology if it is not about to set-up a social network site? This is a connection I am not getting but to the extend to catch a dull glitter by an off-topic celebrity. Could you let me in on this?
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          Dec 5 2012: New American Spring's Second Arm, an organizational network to be called Citizens Activated, is envisioned as a face-to-face community revitalization organization. Yet because technology is so embedded in our culture, there must be an on-line dimension of the community forums of Citizens Activated (people are more likely to join "community" in the comfort of their own homes before getting into face-to-face forums, not to mention the excellent informational benefits of the on-line forum). This is where a natural marriage or symbiosis with Facebook would come in handy. I would require that the independent social network be fully in New American Spring ownership so as not to put it at risk of being usurped by Facebook; but Facebook can be given credit as the tech mother of the Citizens Activated localized community social network; as well as enjoy benefits such as advertising revenues sparked by the Citizens Activated community (in repayment of its capitalist interest--which does have its legitimate place).
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        Dec 5 2012: Yet another social network site, I see. So you need programmers, web designer, database specialists and server capacity... and Zuckerberg?

        In my personal view you are overestimating the 'power' of such a platform especially if the majority of its user are 'couch potatoe revolutionists'. If they are not willing to face their community in real, and rather stay home for the 'American Spring' to happen, it is not gonna work at all.

        Time, effort and talent to build such a platform would better be used on the 'grass roots' of the problems you are about to tackle. Communication and synchronisation can be done via already existing technology, such as Facebook, yet it does not need to be reinvented and just tweaked to serve your porposes.

        Since OWS it should have become clear that movements do not struggle because of lacking Facebook-derivatives, but of lacking general PARTICIPATION! On which 'rather staying home' has its part in it.

        As I mentioned before, the French managed to change their 'system' even without having the technology of the telephone, so information technology is no requirement for change to happen!

        And as long as the majority of your nation is not shaken enough by their circumstances to leave their homes, you will not be able to shake them via social network postings.

        People like Alex Jones are screaming their message and agenda into the crowd, using all available channels of modern technology, yet how much did they really change in their liking?

        Recruitment for a New American Spring will fail on a still distracted and whealthy enough middle class, and just another social media site noting but a blinking LED at night at timesquare...

        Things got to get worse, still, to have a chance to get better...
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          Dec 5 2012: New American Spring through Citizens Activated has no "agendas" or "causes" per se, except the resurrection of the "villages" in an ever more anonymous society. This requires a technological as well as a face-to-face forum. All causes and social healing will be a bi-product of a more locally connected society. This is why I call NAS an "organizational" rather than a "grass-roots" revolution.

          Per its potential. People are really looking for ways to connect with one another beyond the intangible social networking ways presently available.
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        Dec 5 2012: If 'social healing' is no agenda to you, what is? And hoping for 'tangible' digital communication unreal unless you are aiming for 'The Matrix' ...

        'Agenda' in itself has no negative notion, it is it content which can.

        What makes you think that a digital social network was able to heal an anonymous society? What do you think is the cause of anonymity in societies in the first place?

        What you are describing here reminds me very much on the movie Wall-E in which people of a futuristic civilisation on a spaceship communicated with one another only via media even though they sat right next to each other...

        How more 'tangible' a society can become if not via face to face communication? Via active participation within our local communities. In our bodies, not our avatars ...

        Let's picture this: The new NAS real time render engine directly streams video footage of our web-cams on the head of our avatars, by which we enter the 'multiplayer' communication network of our local and not so local communities. Force feedback gloves and video-goggles of the mark I setup is simulating this experience as 'tangible' as possible for this technology to be affordable to all...and then, what? What do we do better and less anonymous than we do today. Who will be there and what do they do once the 'weather' question got setteled?

        What keeps you today to connect with your real world neighbours besides those of next door or next property? What keeps you from introducing yourself to neighbours in your street or building which you only now by sight? And why would you talk to them in a virtual reality more often or for the first time?

        Did you ever try to meet 'one new neighbour a day' by your initiative? If not, why not? And if, what happened? Did it work out? Did it sustain?

        What is the cause for anonymous societies for you today? Lack of technology and city halls? Is that really the cause?

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