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Al Gore on the Social Revolution for Change

While several posts have emerged recently crediting Social Networks (Social Media) with Obama’s victory, I’d like to inject another element into the discussion – people, sociology, and the communities and tools that bind them, us, together.

Smart people intelligently and genuinely connected with other people to further a cause and a greater hope supreme. Social Media provided the channels to create, discover, inspire and share together…nothing less, nothing more.

I attended the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco and we were treated to something truly special. Al Gore closed the conference with a powerful, inspiring, and uniting keynote that earned two standing ovations and honorary residence in the hearts and minds of Silicon Valley’s catalysts for innovation and change.

The “recovering politician” is now a champion for climate change and the further democratization of information. He was as passionate as he was convincing.

He opened the session in response to the first of two standing ovations with a sense of humor, but also a reaffirmation of what brought us together dating back to his Presidential bid in 2000, “Wow, what a week,” he shared.

The room erupted into applause.“It couldn’t have happened without the world wide web, without the Internet,” Gore emphasized.

He’s right.

The Internet and more accurately, the Social Web, provided direct channels between a hopeful candidate with the hope and conviction for change and the people who so desperately needed it. The socialized mechanisms for collaboration and unity nurtured a dedicated coalition whose mission not only successfully elected the next President of the United States of America, but also engendered a global community that is bonding a world around #hope and #change.

Gore, Obama, these are men whom are incredibly and inherently visionary, passionate, and refreshingly human. They are also mirrors that reflect our ideas, beliefs, faith, optimism, and dreams. When Obama said that this was “our” victory, not his, during his now historical speech in Grant Park he recognized that we are one.

Al Gore captured this succinctly and brilliantly when he described the power of the Social Web as delivering and enabling, “the electrifying redemption of America’s revolutionary declaration that all human beings are created equal.”


“It would not have been possible without the additional empowerment of individuals to use knowledge as a source of power that has come with the Internet,” he proclaimed.

This election, as well as Gore’s passion for change, is the manifestation of decades of technological evolution. After all, this is about people. We witnessed the amalgamation of people, ideas, and the social technology that connected them and amplified their cause. This is an evolution, Gore believes, as do many of us, which was christened with the introduction of Gutenberg’s printing press.

It is arguably, the onset of the true democratization of information. The Social Web is simply the advancement of a paramount foundation that synthesizes an individual voice with an interconnected distribution platform where it’s heard, shared and fused with like-minded people and the idea-driven and passion-fueled collectives they represent.

His vision for the Web is its sense of “purpose,” which is how we can take the evolution of not only the technology that defines it, but also the people who use it to communicate with one another.

“I believe Web 2.0 has to have a purpose,” Gore observed.

I agree, but would simply say that “The Web,” socially rooted, must have a purpose. It’s not just about promoting brands, marketing at people, raising money, or electing politicians using new mediums and shiny new objects.

The Social Revolution is Our Industrial Revolution.

It is our chance to contribute to our history and our future by investing a piece of ourselves into what we create, embrace, and release to the world.

Our work and purpose is far from realized however.

The fact that the “Web’s candidate of choice won this time is no reason to rest easy,” Gore reminded us.

The democratization of media requires constant innovation and cultivation. Only through education and experience can we create a more literate society that bonds through knowledge.

“Just as Barack Obama’s election would’ve been impossible without the new dialogue and new ways of interacting–the Web–the only way (climate change) is going to be solved is by addressing the democracy crisis, and the country hit a great blow for victory this week, but we have to take this issue and raise it in the awareness of everyone,” Gore emphatically stated.

When asked by conference organizers Tim O’Reilly and John Batelle if the new democracy of information was in danger of losing steam, Gore confidently responded, “I think that it is very much in its infancy, barely beginning, and I think that we are not many years away from television sort of sinking into the digital world and becoming a part of it.”

While still in its infancy, the Web is empowering us to contribute to the transformation and maturation of our society, civilization, and everything that governs the dynamics, rules, and relationships that weave them together.

Through socially connected platforms and communities, we now have access to our very own Gutenberg presses to publish, distribute, and bond our thoughts, ideas, facts, stories, and information with people all over the world. We no longer have to wait for the world to change, we are now part of the new democracy that defines its present and its future.

For more pictures from Al Gore’s presentation at Web 2.0 Summit, please visit my album on flickr.

Recommended Reading on PR 2.0:

The State of Social Media 2008
Reinventing Crisis Communications for the Social Web
In the Social Web, We Are All Brand Managers
The Essential Guide to Social Media
The Social Media Manifesto
PR 2.0: Putting the Public Back in Public Relations

6 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Al Gore on the Social Revolution for Change”

  1. Meredith Gould says:

    So glad you see that you name “sociology” as a key element in the 2.0 conversation.

    Once upon a time, sociology was considered the uber-cool undergraduate major for anyone who wanted to become a lawyer, politician, journalist, trouble maker.

    During the 1980s, undergrads migrated en masse to business programs and we’re now reaping the results of that tunnel vision.

    As an “applied sociologist,” I’m observing (and participating) with great delight this return to radical social awareness and community building; watching transformation of social institutions happening in real time is a thrill!

  2. tony dee says:

    OMG!!! Based on all of what you wrote, you would think that Gore and BO were the first and second coming. Do you also believe that Gore “created” the internet?

  3. Justin Schmidt says:

    Great post, and don’t pay any heed to tony dee. Al Gore is an extremely intelligent man. While Barack Obama’s win fits nicely in the “new purpose of social media” box, it isn’t the only example. Let’s see hwo the social community responds the next time there is a Katrina / Tsunami / 9/11 type disaster. Information spreads so quickly now and people have such easy access to have their voice heard. Those two factors create an environment that can really propagate ideas centered around making a difference.

  4. Scot Wheeler says:

    With web 2.0 taking center stage in an election which really seemed to revitalize a democracy of, by and for the people – thoughts like those you’ve shared here hopefully presage the next stage of an engaged web 2.0 society; one which desires to locate itself in a broader and deeper intellectual and pilosophical continuum.

    Your reference to sociology opens the door for me to cite McLuhan – maybe not a formal sociologist, but certainly an adept practitioner. Web2.0 is the medium, and the medium is the message. So what is the message? That the desire and will to connect and engage with others will expand and strengthen as it is enabled by technology to do so. These connections and engagements will be made more meaningful if they take place with full awareness of what they mean in the context of history and contemporary culture.

    The Obama victory shows without doubt that web 2.0 is something serious (although as a benefit, it will always also be fun). Let’s hope that with that responsibility come more blogs like this one, more awareness of our place in history, and of the hopes and expectations that theorists and visionaries had for us when this time came.

    Democracy has become accessible again, now why not make cultural theory accessible and part of the web 2.0 mash-up? It can only add to the mix.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If you want to see the end-goal of democracy through the web, check out the international Metagovernment project, which is building a Web 2.0 system to allow all people direct control of every governance system.

  6. Carl Eneroth says:

    Great post. I am a big fan of Al Gore and web 2.0. Gore has had a great impact here in Sweden.


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