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The difference between “talk” and “action”

December 6, 2010

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Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, has been in the spotlight quite a bit recently. After he left Facebook, he worked on the Obama campaign harnessing social media in a way that had never been done before. But he didn’t stop with politics. He is now directing is not-inconsiderable social networking skills toward charities and nonprofits in the form of Jumo, a social network for social change. I have written about how Jumo relates to ChangeMachine here, but I wanted to talk about this interview with Chris Hughes on social action.

It is really a great interview, definitely worth reading in its entirety, but there is one section in particular that I wanted to talk about. Here it is in full

Q: How do you motivate people to go beyond talk on social networks to taking real-world action?

Let’s not forget that there is immense value in “talking.” This sharp differentiation between “talking” and “action” is a false dichotomy and suggests that there isn’t value in talking and learning about the issues in front of us. If anything, I think we need to be talking more about the challenges our world faces to deepen our understanding and commitment to solving them.

At the same time, we should be constantly thinking about how to use networks to help take action. For a lot of the challenges the world faces, I don’t think we need to use social networks to reinvent the wheel. There are millions of people who work inside programs and organizations across the world. They are experts; they are fighters. I’m interested in using social networks to help supplement and extend their work.

This is exactly the way ChangeMachine thinks about social change. People are always talking about how there is too much “talk” in the world, not enough action. But Mr. Hughes reminds us that the first step to action is talking! Also, there is another kind of talking the ChangeMachine promotes. That is brainstorming! We love it and we aim to support it with our live collaboration platform (see Sean’s article).

There is a line between talking and action, and we here at ChangeMachine feel that Jumo needs to go farther, to do more. That’s why we made ChangeMachine, there needs to be a place where people can actually change the way nonprofits do their work!


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