I’ve switched focus to a very high and broad view today, sharing an illustration of one way we can view the paradigm of the Social Age. This view is a structural one: the largest playing pieces on the board: it explores the relationship between the individual, our mechanisms of productivity and effect (Organisations), and Society itself (as the geopolitical global structure). I’ve also included some element of context. I should note that i can easily pick out the weakness of this illustration, however that does not negate the value of it: as part of a journey, a quest, into understanding.

The headline narrative is this: we used to operate in a more simple representation: individuals fit into Organisations, held within society.

This is still true, but the picture has been diluted: in my work i would argue that it is the context and forces of the Social Age that have diluted this.

Today we could consider that the radical connectivity, generally more highly synchronous context, democratisation of technology, and rebalanced power (to name but a few of these factors and forces) have led to a more complex or nuanced picture: individuals belonging more strongly to differentiated Communities, and into the New Guilds, acted upon by emergent Culture Creators, and still operating within Organisations, within a legacy notion of Society.

Key to this is the recognition that the legacy structures (of Organisations as the dominant ‘holders’ of labour and talent, as well as ‘productivity’ and ‘effect’, and of Society as the dominant space of ‘belonging’ and ‘culture’) are fractured by the radically connected structures of Community, and the purposeful (and increasingly developmental) New Guilds.

Indeed: one could argue that all that holds us to the past structures are legacy systems of law and contract that bind us to the old.

Opportunity may increasingly be found somewhere in this new space: the re-boundary-ing of our understanding, the recognition of permeable belonging, of contextual culture, of complex but resilient capability,

Indeed: if we were bold we may say that we would recognise the inherently time bound and fragile nature, the transient nature, of our legacy systems of understanding. They never were the end point, were simply held back until technology delivered our evolved social context.

Too bold? Maybe.

Wrong? Probably, or possibly.

But is the old still true?

I doubt it.

You can be productive without an Organisation, you can belong globally, our Communities are the drivers of social and structural change, Netflix and Prime, Apple and TikTok are part of the global cultural enablers or creators, belonging is more complex than ever (as is identity), and subscription is more dynamic than taxation.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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