The Hotseat - Will Web 2.0 be the toolset we need to change the world?

Leonie Ramondt's picture
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19 May 2008 - 00:00
1 Jun 2008 - 17:00

In the book "Here Comes Everyone" Clay Shirky claims that Web 2.0 gives us, for the first time in history, the tools we need to change the world. Marc Osten ( our next hotseat host, asks us whether in fact this leads us yet again down a dangerous road to social inaction and ineffectiveness.


Join in this hot seat discussion at

marcosten's picture

The Plan for Week 2

Good morning! Hope you all had a relaxing weekend.

As far as this week my suspicion is that we'll see two different tracks of discussion. one that is opened ended and one that is structured and connected to my push to have us jointly develop answers to the many questions brainstormed at the end of last week.

I'll do my best on the open-ended discussion to help support the sharing. As far as the structured discussion my plan is to 'open the floor' each day with a few questions to focus on for that day.

I hope this all makes sense. Cheers, Marc

marcosten's picture

Day 5: Add, review, reword 'questions' from yesterday

Yesterday you developed an impressive list of questions to ask before making Wb 2.0 tool and strategy decisions. Next week we'll try to answer these questions by taking a few each day. For now I invite you to add tothe list, review what is here, suggest edits, etc.

Please DO NOT comment here but at

Note - I've taken the liberty in some cases of extracting questions from narratives that some of you provided. Please feel free to edit at will.

Questions shared on day 4:

Question: How effective will Web 2.0 tools be for those folks who live at the edge of the network - places where connectivity is spotty, computing skills are minimal, and resources are limited?

Q: Who is your target audience for "change" - are you holding a massive conversation with yourself or with an elective homogeneity while your target audience is oblivious to your efforts ?

Q: If you believe you're looking to change something that is controlled and regulated by people who do not engage with Web 2.0 - say World Trade for example - at what stage do you break off from using Web 2.0 to build a momentum and have to use ye olde methods to engage with the suits in charge

Mike Veitch
Q: How are the benefits of the transaction distributed amongst the tool purchaser; the tool user; the tool maker and the tool evangalists? (Andy Dearden added remember benefits to the capital provider who may claim ownership to intellectual property)

Q: Web x.y makes use of global communications networks owned by others. What happens when this permission to use is withdrawn - do we have a Plan B?

Q: If Web 2.0 is the tool set we need to change the world, what is wrong with the tried and tested tools we been using for the last few millenium to effect change up until now?-

Q: How can nonprofits quickly and inexpensively find and adapt those tool sets for their specialized needs?" (Even if those tools aren't web 2.0 themselves)

Q: As we consider use of Wb 2.0 tools and strategies, how do we want to root our considerations? (By mission, by program, by campaign goal, etc.)

Q: Will the use of Web 2.0 tools and strategies be ‘game changing’ in regards to our efforts?

Q: Where do you look for reliable information about the capacity you are going to need to deploy tool X?

Q: Where do you look for reliable information about the merits of different tools for a given objective?

Q: How do you manage the proliferation of communication channels (print, email, web 2.0, phone, face2face events, ...) and still keep your diverse constituency working in coordinated way?

Q: What is your target audience's capacity to engage with the tools you are using?

Q: What Web 2.0 tools *aren't* being used by the people you are trying to reach with your work, and *why* aren't they using them? Is it because they cannot access them? Or is it because the tools don't serve their needs? If they don't have tools they need, or the tools for them need to be better/different, how can we address that gap in our work?

Q: Are there any tools that aren't classified as Web 2.0 tools that could be helpful in us meeting our goals?

Q: Can these tools ( Facebook, bloggs, wikis -Web 2.0 - and other internet interaction) give us a democratic society with greater influence?

Q: If politicians and their government administrations will not give us individual citizens more influence, how can we citizens get more influence?

Paula Graham
Q: What ‘wider’ issues (ethical issues, who owns services, etc.) other than cost, ease of use, etc. should be taken into consideration when making choices about tools?

Q: In what situations should free/open source be prioritized when making selections?

Q: What tools will be practical for us to deploy in light of the tool fatique many of us experience, especially when using new tools?

Q: How do you identify and then NARROW down what tools make sense to deploy??Q: How do you align with your capacity and/or your organisation's capacity to deploy the tool?

Q: How do you determine if and/or when and/or how to integrate the use of Web 2.0 tools and strategies with your other online and/or offline engagement strategies and tactics.

Q: How do you balance the need to perfectly target the right tool for the right job with the need to stay comfortable with experimentation and learning as you go?

Q: As we proceed with the use of Web 2.0 tools and strategies what do we want to measure to best understand the impact that these tools and strategies on our broader goals?

Q: What are the most appropriate ways to measure the impact of Web 2.0 tools and strategies we deploy?

Q: What type of changes will you have to help staff and external stakeholders deaL with as they use and adapt to new ways of working that Web 2.0 tools and strategies can lead to?

Q: How best can you deal with these changes?

gailwatt's picture

A voice from Sweden

Have been following discussion with great interest.  Take a look at and you'll see why.  In preparation of our 2:nd book to be published in the beginning of June, we have had a year's long discussion within our group on the following questions related to the Swedish system of democracy:

1)When we say that we have a democracy where the individual citizen has nearly no influence at all, what is the influence we actually are missing?

2) Facebook, bloggs, wikis -Web 2.0 - and other internet interaction -can these tools give us a democratic society with greater influence? 


3)If now politicians and their government administrations will not give us individual citizens more influence, how can we citizens get more influence? 


Often we Swedes get such accolades on our form of government and social systems, while we ourselves are less than fully content.  And so it probably should be in a democracy that constantly has to be guarded, worked on, and improved if it is to be viable over time. Please feel free to help us with our answers to the three questions.  All of us in the D2D group (with members from the far left to the far right) think we need a great deal of help even from non-Swedes. 


Gail Watt

Stockholm, Sweden    

marcosten's picture

From Day 3 to Day 4...let's keep it rolling!

Yesterday morning I made a request to you on this list and those already involved in the online discussion I’m facilitating on Web 2.0 and Social Action at:

I asked: “So assuming for the moment that we are clear on purpose, people, context, culture, WHAT ARE THE SPECIFIC QUESTIONS WE NEED TO ASK TO APPROPRIATELY AND EFFECTIVELY USE WEB 2.0 TOOLS AND STRATEGIES?”

Well the response was great! Today I’m going to keep us focused on generating questions that we need to ask ourselves, our organisations, our clients, etc. to help with Web 2.0 tool and strategic use decision-making.

Why? Because at the end of the two week online discussion I’d like to see if we can together contribute something very concrete and usable to the wider audience of colleagues we know who didn’t have time to join us. I’m thinking about a fact sheet, decision-making tool, postings of the synthesis to blogs, a short online video summary, etc.

Why? Because so often these online discussions seem to often float into the ether and it is just the small group of 10-20 who really benefit.

I hope this makes sense and those of you who have just 15 minutes can jump in and contribute.

Ciao, Marc

Summit Collaborative

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marcosten's picture

Day 2 Summary - Time to get more concrete!

Well if there is one thing that is clear from the past few days it is that
there is general broad agreement that the tools are simply not enough and that
there are a variety of other issues that drive the use of the tools. Yesterday
AndyDearden for example states, "We need to be clear about what parts of
the world we want to change, and in what ways." Conches follows up with,
"What tools I use are irrelevant. How ever, what we want is critical and
what tools we use are critical." Johanna.Bates closes yesterday with a
strategic communications issue when she writes, "If I have a poorly
constructed message, the ability for me to communicate more quickly with more
people at any hour of the day will not magically fix anything."

Several folks also comment that they want the discussion us to move from the
larger abstract question we started with, "Will Web 2.0 be the tool set we
need to change the world?" to more concrete ways of questioning the
relevance and strategic role that Web 2.0 tools play in social movements.

AndyDearden also reminds us that the triangle diagram that David Wilcox
shared (
is instructive as it asks us to think about "* The purpose - what are you
trying to achieve, * The people - what attitudes, skills, motivation, * The
context - what is the culture, history of the situation... and only then, what
process and methods will be appropriate."

Assuming we are clear on purpose, people, context, culture, etc. AND
we have common purpose and desire, WHAT ARE THE SPECIFIC QUESTIONS WE NEED TO

I ask that you try to be very specific with the questions you add to the
list and then maybe on Thursday, Friday and next week we can try to answer some
of the questions. I promise to then pull it together into a usable
resource/tool any of use can use to be more strategic. That would definitely be
a move from 'abstract' to concrete. I'll get us started.

Question: How do you identify and then NARROW down what tools make sense to
Question: How do you align with your capacity and/or your organisation's
capacity to deploy the tool?

REMEMBER - Let's try today to just generate the question and hold off on
answers. Thanks, Marc

marcosten's picture

Day 1 Summary...lets step it up today - day 2!

Colleagues - Day 1, yesterday, of the two week online discussion I'm provoking and leading brought to the surface what I think a lot of us believe but maybe forget to practice. That Web 2.0 and social movement success isn't really about the great tools but more than that. Some notable quotes included:

"I think it is not the tool as such becasue Web 1.0 aimed the same, to work people together. it will be the mentality, a state of mind which is now absent. (From nikilambropoulos)"

"Fact remains I could stick a video on the web in 1996 or have a discussion in a forum or Usenet group or whatever so it isn't about the tools at all." (From cynialeng)

"A good craftsman doesn't blame his tools for poor work... to make a better society depends on people's vision and motives, education, not just having the latest tools." (From ahi-va

But to be fare, there were a few people who provided valuable examples and framing that clarified that though the tools aren't the driver of success, they can, and do in some cases, provide opportunities that can not be ignored. Opportunities that are in fact different and maybe somewhat new.

"But web 2.0 does represent a remarkable shift... a new kind of "mesh" - that allows them to be aware of their broad community of friends and acquaintences without getting swamped. The emegence of micro-donations in each others names, as small gifts in this community is one example of hte kind of innovations that are on the move." (From Robert Leming)

"...for the first time it really hit home the sense that, "yeah, I should be able to maintain my website with ease, and connect with people through it." It brought a lot of people out of the area of customization and into toolsets that helped them focus on social advocacy more, and maintaining technology less. This is just one story, but to me there are certaintly gains in efficiency in communications through web 2.0 technologies.." (From eleland)

So as is often the case, it was David Wilcox who really hit the mark at the end of the day when he asked:

"I suggest that online tools are one set of methods that may be used within a process of change. However, first it helps to think about the purpose, the people and the context. I don't think it is either or. How about (we refine the question to) "in what circumstances, used by what people, to what end, and over what time, are Web 2.0 tools most likely to change the world?" (From David Wilcox)

I hope you can find a little time today to jump in and join us as the conversation will, I'm sure, continue to mature.


Marc Osten
Summit Collaborative

marcosten's picture

It's Monday morning and we're up and running!

Good morning everyone,

If you want to join the discussion look on the upper left hand side of this web page, you will see a posting for the 5th PRASDA workshop and then below it a posting for the Web 2.0 hotseat. At the end of this post you will notice a login link and then a register link, this is where you can register in order to be able to post comments. You will be able to fill out account information, i.e preferred username, email address and password.

Good Luck,



Marc Osten

Summit Collaborative


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