Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Secrets of Social Innovation: The World is Not Small

Several of these secrets offer the same lesson: "Problems are not always obvious from afar." "Learn everything there is to know about the specific context." "Understand by observing the environment, infrastructure, culture and lives of people by being there."

These are all about local context, and they are about humility. They say that the world is a big place filled with many kinds of people and problems, and that solutions designed in one place don't always work in others. One size does not fit all.

Technologies, especially communication technologies like the glowing screens you and I are both staring into, are often said to transcend place, to shrink or erase distance, to make the world one. The internet is everywhere and nowhere all at once, right? We're living in a global village? But our supposedly space-transcending or distance-shrinking ideas and gadgets inevitably get defined and distorted by local cultures, by regional advantages and disadvantages, by territorial governments, and by the earth’s environment itself. A lot of our problems grow out of trying to ignore or deny this fact. The world is not small, it is not flat, and we have not transcended distance.

The rhetoric of place-lessness, of global villages and globalization, of a world made small and manageable by the miracles of technology, is hardly new. It's been with us for a hundred years and then some. And it is almost always put in service to a particular set of political prescriptions. So we ought to be a little skeptical of this language.

I'm not arguing for pessimism. I'm arguing for humility.
One step in saving the world might be getting past the ego trip that says we know how to save it--even if we are a global network of idealistic net-savvy superheroes funded by the World Bank. Douglas Rushkoff recently wrote: "The temptation to save the wh*** world--and get the credit--comes at the expense of steps we might better take to make our immediate world a more fruitful, engaging, sustainable, and satisfying place." When Alchemy calls me in 2020 to solve the Tokyo food crisis, I might have to say, "Tokyo needs to save Tokyo, Alchemy. There's work to be done here at home."

Views: 33

Comment by Brandon Spearman on March 5, 2010 at 8:24pm
This is a very engaging post Rob. I think your ideas about transcending distance are true. Just because I can talk to someone in South Africa in a split second doesn't mean I understand their plight. To truly uunderstand we must experience and this cannot be done through a computer screen.

I know we have many problems in our own countries but it never hurts to have people solving problems elsewhere in nations that don't have the resources that we are so used to having. If we completely ignore their issues and only work to solve our own they could grow into even larger epidemics that begin to affect greater populations. There is no perfect solution to solving the problems we have in this world but the only way we're going to be able to try is to work together. That's my opinion at least.
Comment by Rob MacDougall on March 6, 2010 at 8:15pm
Thanks, Brandon. Certainly I'm not arguing that we should not try to work together or to solve or think about problems on a global scale. Just, as I say, calling for humility and an examination of our own motives.


You need to be a member of Urgent Evoke to add comments!

Join Urgent Evoke

Latest Activity

Ning Admin is now a member of Urgent Evoke
May 17
N updated their profile
Sep 25, 2020
Sophie C. commented on Asger Jon Vistisen's blog post Stinging Nettle
"I love that you've brought this to attention. An extensive database of uncommon but resistant and hardy plants/foods could be developed and organized by climate. Ease of growth and processing should also be taken in to account. I will try to…"
Aug 19, 2020
Meghan Mulvey posted a blog post

Fourth of July on the Lake

This past weekend was the annual celebration at the lake house in Connecticut. It is amazing that the lake is still so clear and beautiful after all these years. The watershed association has done a wonderful job protecting these waters from the damaging effects of development.The wood grill was finally ready to cook on, so we didn't miss the propane tank fueled grill anymore. The food actually tasted fresher than in the past and was easy to keep fueled.Dad was very proud of the solar hybrid…See More
Jul 6, 2020
Asger Jon Vistisen posted a blog post

Stinging Nettle

In this blog post I will focus on a plant that is abundant in our nature, and which is immensely nutritious. It's of course the Stinging Nettle. Let's start with the chemical constituents of this plant:37 % Non-Nitrogen-Extracts19 - 29 % Ash9 - 21 % Fiber4 % Fat22 % ProteinOnce the leaves are drid, their protein content can reach an astounding 40 %, which is much higher than beef, which even under the best of circ**stances can never exceed 31 % protein. In addition the Stinging Nettle consists…See More
Apr 13, 2020
Jonathon McCallum posted a blog post

The meal

It is 7'oclock, I was late home from work due to an assignment that i wanted to get ahead on. By the time I get home I am feeling extremley tired and I cannot be bothered to make a proper meal. I walk to the fridge and open it to see what there is for me to eat. All of the out of date foodstuffs have been automaticaly thrown away by the fridge, they will be recycled tomorrow as animal feed or something. I see i have organic local eggs and some local cheese. Foods are vacc** sealded for easy…See More
Mar 10, 2020
Jean Paul Galea shared a profile on Facebook
Mar 1, 2020
Kevin posted a blog post


FutureToday is 2020/1/1. It is just like yesterday. The war is still continuing. It has started since 2010. In 2010, that year was a horrible year. Almost every energy ran out. Every country’s governments were crushed down at the same time. There were riots everywhere. All of the big company’s bosses were killed xdeadx in the riots. Troops fought each other everywhere. Food was bought up xawayx at once. There were no more food supplies in any shops. The economy was all crushed down. All the…See More
Jan 1, 2020
Namwaka Mooto posted blog posts
Jan 13, 2016
T D updated their profile
Sep 3, 2015
Brook Warner posted blog posts
Aug 25, 2015
Santiago Vega posted blog posts
May 5, 2015
Santiago Vega commented on Santiago Vega's blog post Act 8
May 5, 2015
Santiago Vega posted photos
May 5, 2015
Rico Angel Rodriguez posted blog posts
May 2, 2015
Rico Angel Rodriguez posted a photo

public servants

The exchange works directly for state and public workers and servants. It gives them credit in exchange for the amount of public work they contribute to the community. The more constructive they are based off a base rate the more credit they recieve.
May 2, 2015

Follow EVOKE on Twitter

Official EVOKE Facebook Page

EVOKE RSS Activity Feed

© 2023   Created by Alchemy.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service