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Monday, September 28, 2009

The Web as Random Acts of Kindness & Spudstock

This blog post of Edward Monton chronicles something that I think is pretty profound. The Great Potato Give Away last weekend in Edmonton was a "success" beyond expectations. And that was part of the problem - the response overwhelmed the planning.

OK what is the big deal of thousands of people driving out to a farm to dig up and pick up some free spuds? That is not the whole story. The rest of the story is the community response to such a simple idea of local food and keeping quality farmland for growing - not for paving.

The evolving event took on a Woodstock kind of consciousness. Remember when so many people showed up as Yasgers Farm for the concert that weekend that they closed roads, tapped the resources of the small surrounding communities and then formed its own unique culture and society - at least for a while.

I did not go to Norbert's Farm on Saturday, had to work, but I followed it on Twitter. The overwhelming response to the event, promoted in MSM but also, and most significantly, through the power of engagement via social media. It was kind of a mini-Woodstock..."and was like a happening man!" ( pardon the 60's speak, just could not help myself.). In my Tweets back to folks on the farm, stuck in cars, walking to the event or on their way to the event I dubbed the day "Spudstock." Edward liked it and said he would use it in this Blog post.

The changing nature of society due to connectivity and the quickness of a community coming together as a horde or a mob or a happening (there I go again) to do something or experience something because of social media - do what ever they do and then dissipate to reform with other folks around another event or issue. It is fascinating.

I first experienced this phenomenon at the Second Reading of Bill 44 in the Alberta Legislature.
A whole Twitter based on-line community came to the issue, found each other and started to form its own little culture and society that night. It grew and grew, got more and more interesting and many of stayed connected and commenting until the bitter end of the debate which finally wrapped up at 4:30 am the next day.

There were some grumpy people who came out spudless from Spudstock but as the video in Edwards blog showed, they were prepared to stay the course and put in the time to be part of something interesting and different.

This TED Talk entitled "The Web as Random Acts of Kindness" by Jonathan Zittrain captures some more of what I am talking about, I hope you enjoy that too.