Beyond Digital: Into the Social Age

It’s my final day working on the Social Leadership Handbook, 2nd Edition. As usual, closing it down has taken weeks longer than i expected. It’s like moving house: you clear all your stuff out and it takes x amount of time. Then you have the last few things left in the corners, which, although apparently small and effortless, take the same amount of time again. Writing is a bit like that: but with fewer cobwebs.

Into the Social Age

I’ve redrawn all the illustrations in this new edition, so forty six in total, sixteen of which are, brand new, the rest of which are evolved. This is one of those: an evolved image from the introduction which looks at ‘how we got here’. It shows a progression into the Social Age.

In the original, it showed the ‘Manufacturing Age‘, the ‘Knowledge Age‘ and then the ‘Social Age‘. In this version, i’ve updated it to include the ‘Digital Age’. Why? Mainly as a result of conversations i find i have frequently, which have permeated into my conscience (a true benefit of #WorkingOutLoud).

Below, the original illustration:

The Social Age evolution

We have evolved from the Manufacturing Age through to the Social Age. It’s where agility counts: our ability to create meaning and take transformative action

Some people say we are in the Digital Age: i disagree. We are through it, left with a legacy of technology and connectedness that will persist through all time. The technology changed everything, but it’s not the thing to focus on. It’s the underlying sociology that counts: the way we connect has changed, the ways we learn, work, lead and play. The ways we do everything.

The ecosystem of the Social Age 2016

So the Social Age is about communities, it’s about people and the impacts that are delivered by the technology. We are now connected to knowledge in new ways, connected to knowledge that is, in itself, evolved: more dynamic, co-created and adaptive. We are connected to communities in which we take multiple and varied roles, often under multiples flavours of our own identity.

For me, the Digital Age is an intellectual cop out: it’s an easy focus on the thing in front of us, the gadgets in our hands. To say we are in the Digital Age is to say we breathe air and drink water. Is it significant? You bet your bottom dollar it is: it’s changed everything. But is it the thing we should be focusing on? No, because technology is in service of people: the things we should be looking at are the Social Contract, Social Capital, Trust and Fairness, Social Leadership and a myriad other aspects of the evolved social frame. The Social Age.

We are crashing through the walls of what we held to be true: devices won’t save us. Only our communities will.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
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6 Responses to Beyond Digital: Into the Social Age

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