As David Bornstein claims, we are riding the verge of a social change enlightenment.
Successful social change programs are targeting the heart as well as the head, effecting change by appealing to ‘non-rational’ factors such as emotion, group identity, and relationships. (...)
At the heart of the social change enlightenment, there is a new emphasis on data and facts to evaluate the impact of social change programs. Where the historical exponents of Enlightenment used scientific experiments and logical arguments to explain the world, we are drawing on the infinite capacities of online data clouds and innovative data visualization tools to make social change challenges and solutions apparent to all. This is radically reducing costs and exponentially boosting the effectiveness of social change programs. (...)
Smart data can feed into social change in three main ways:
1. Data visualization. Visualizing problems makes it easier to respond to them. We see this in the world of crisis mapping. In the 2010 Haitian earthquake, Ushahidi’s crisis mapping tools were hailed as a breakthrough innovation.
2. ‘Socialize’ the process of systems change with smart interactive campaigns. Smart data doesn’t just enable us to visualize problems, it opens up new ways of mobilizing crowds to engage with them too. We can take inspiration here from flashmob culture and groups like ImprovEverywhere, who seek to create ‘scenes of chaos and joy in public places’.
3. Empower entrepreneurs to engage with social change initiatives. The most talented people in the world are not necessarily working for social change organizations. This doesn’t mean that they are not willing to pitch in and get involved. (...)
Our collective capacity today is truly miraculous. All that we need are tools to transform this capacity into millions of enlightened actions.