“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. This quote is from Margaret Mead, an American anthropologist, who lived in the pre-Internet world. Now thanks to social networks, it has never been easier for people with a passion to share it with the world, gather support, and make a difference.
“How has the Internet changed your life?” was the question all participants of the 1st Worldwide Personal Democracy Meetup Day were asked. This unprecedented experiment ran for 24 hours, starting in Australia, passing through Asia and Europe and finishing in the U.S. 50 cities took part, 250 participants in total.
How has the Internet changed my life? If only for one thing, since I started blogging and tweeting I’ve met an incredible amount of people, fantastic folks who share a passion for social media and a determination to convince EU institutions to switch from the broadcast mode to the conversation mode. There is an enduring assumption that when people use social media, they live in a virtual bubble. Not true: building relationships online leads to strong relationships offline. The Internet is not disconnecting people; on the contrary it is reconnecting them. More importantly, it is connecting people across borders, something that was not possible at such a scale in the pre-Internet times.
So how did our Brussels PdF meetup go? It was spontaneous, warm and interactive. 30 people joined us, all working in or around the EU institutions, all sharing our enthusiasm for the potential of the Internet to open up the EU bubble. In terms of attendees, we were amazed to see that our Brussels meetup ranked 2nd, just after New York City, home land of the PdF, and before Washington D.C. Who would have thought? Yesterday EU geeks were at the forefront of global online democracy.
The worldwide PdF meetup was an experiment. It was exciting for us to take part and we look forward to similar experiences in the future!
UPDATE: Read the great report of the worldwide PdF meetup day written by PdF co-founder Micah Sifry. I like Joe Anthony’s suggestion for next time: have a ‘crazy idea’ theme e.g. What would you like to see happen in 5-10 years? Inspiring, isn’t it?