The crowd is a powerful thing. In 2011 we were continually reminded of the power of the crowd as we witnessed crowds forming and acting in unison. Governments across the world were forced to take notice and some yielded entirely to them.
For those who want to to know about what is happening anywhere in the world the internet is the best source to find information, far outstripping any other source. Tv stations and newspapers give us as much or as little information as they choose to, often highlighting parts which don’t exist to the same extent as they portray, not revealing parts which don’t fit their slant or show points of views which are mostly in line with their own political affiliations. On the internet you can find words, images and videos often in their raw form which truly enables us to be flies on walls in countries where we physically can’t be. The internet is the method of delivery and the devices used to write, record and send information is increasingly becoming the mobile phone. In the next few years the mobile is expected to overtake the PC as the most popular way to be on the Web. All of this can help us get a more accurate picture of our world, which helps us come to better informed conclusions and decision making.
This connectivity makes crowd forming easier than ever, what is written or what images and videos are uploaded can be read and watched by the masses. If something strikes a chord with someone, he passes it on, if a feeling is evoked by those he passed it on to they in turn pass the information on. Within hours a plan can be formed and followed. A physical crowd can grow in size or even originate due to connections in cyberspace.
The crowd is still seemingly most effective when it is seen physically, masses of people holding the same opinions but remaining dispersed across the globe are easier to ignore than crowds amassed in streets and squares. Today many businesses rely on “Crowdsourcing” for products they sell. It’s an unusual crowd because those who are part of it have usually never met or even know of each others existence, and they may be entirely unaware of how large a crowd they are apart of. This faceless crowd aren’t physically at the companies they receive revenue from. The companies’ owners never have to meet them or even know about them. They are not employees of the companies so they don’t have a great deal of rights, yet these companies can’t exist without them. The companies have legal obligations to the staff who work at their premises, and if the owners were to suddenly announce pay-cuts or change rules which staff regard as unfair, these employees can more easily act in unison and express their discontent.
However, companies which rely on “Crowdsourcing” have very few obligations to the thousands or even tens of thousands of people who provide the source from which the companies attain their revenues. This kind of freedom for those in charge, inevitably reduces the probability that a company will choose to act favourably to the crowd. Each individual in the crowd has the choice to discontinue from being the source, but it’s not that simple. Those who submit their work to gain a little extra cash may not be too concerned by decisions made which affect them but often made with disregard to them, but for those whose online revenue has become a large part of their entire income if not all of it, it is a concern. If a person has spent several years providing his products to a company and creating a regular income, the company then makes decisions which are less favourable for him, does the person withdraw his products out of principle (products which often took a while climbing the various ranks) or accept the new terms because of all the time and effort already spent, as well as not wanting to lose a source of revenue? They are likely to stay, albeit begrudgingly.
The faceless crowd can sometimes exercise its power too without ever being physically together. If enough individuals make the same decisions a mass movement can be created without it being planned, organised or coordinated, but as a result of enough people coming to the same conclusion after analysis of information received. A multitude of individual actions can unwittingly bring about change.
Only last week Godaddy chose to pacify a rebellion with an about-turn on its support for SOPA after losing tens of thousands domains in the space of a week. They now say, “GoDaddy will support it (SOPA) when and if the Internet community supports it.” It is often said that actions speak louder than words, in this age how you choose to click can speak volumes.
Dictators of countries have too much freedom and choices, while the citizens have very few, this kind of power is often misused and they end up being resented by the people. Businesses in democratic countries have a lot of freedom and choices too, but again if too much power is in the hands of too few this can be detrimental to many. The term ‘corporate greed’ doesn’t come from nowhere it comes because so many corporations become greedy, they are allowed to become greedy.
In 2011 people have showed more than ever before their discontent by forming crowds and protesting. The amount of people which had protests in their countries comes to 3 billion. I think we can safely say that we are living at a time of mass discontentment. In 2012 people in power need to learn how to make the crowd content. The crowd isn’t going away, but instead it’s getting larger, more informed and better connected, and those in power may find that it is mutually beneficial to look after the crowd.
Hope you have a happy and prosperous New Year!