Circles, Networks and the 10:1 Ratio

August 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Photo by: December005

I am part of a community of practice organized around networks and decentralized organizing.  Some of us have been pondering the relationship between scale and relationship.  We want to nurture movements that can bring social transformation to scale, and we know that authentic relationships are at the heart of real transformation.

I’m not writing with an answer.  But our inquiry reminded me of a recent Seth Godin post on consumers and creators.  The abbreviated version goes like this:

Fifty years ago, the ratio was a million to one.

For every person on the news or on primetime, there were a million viewers.

Magazines brought the ratio to 100,000:1.

If you wrote for a major magazine, you were going to impact a lot of people.

Most of us were consumers, not creators.

Cable TV made it 10,000 to one.

The little star is born.

Now it’s easy to have a blog, or a YouTube account or push your ideas to the world through social media.

The ratio might be 100:1.

What does the world look like when we get to the next zero?

And that is the important question.  I think that when we talk networks and decentralized organizing, when we talk about scale vs. relationship, we have to ask ourselves the very same question – let’s get ahead of the curve!

We seek connection and connectivity, and these two are not always the same.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to define new ways of being-with.  We can call forth our primal gift for sitting in circle together, we can remember the habits of the tribe, we can build communities rooted in authentic relationship and we can simultaneously interconnect at a global scale.  These are good times for building movement.

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  • Cynthia Silva Parker says:

    Thanks Gibran. Your post reminds me of something I learned from an organizer a long time ago. People get involved in actions, organizations and even movements not just because they believe in something or want change, but often because someone they know and respect invites them to get involved alongside them. This, of course, requires relationships and connections. Your post is a great invitation to remember this!

  • Chelsea says:

    Thank you so much for this post, Gibran. As an active writer and community-facilitator (I prefer that to “community organizer”) in the online world, I have moments where I lose sight of the big picture… That question, “are we really making a difference?”, surfaces over and over again. The numbers you cite here remind me that YES– every word, every person, every connection makes a difference. The question is no longer if we’re making a difference, but how.

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