Social-networking-style problem solving (& policymaking)

I think, or at least hope, online safety (the whole world, actually) is going in the direction of what New York Times columnist Tom Friedman prescribes for solving most global problems: toward using the social-networking model. “Huh?” you might ask. Right, Friedman didn’t call it that. But I see a lot of similarity between his prescription for solution development to the collective way young people increasingly do everything from socializing to producing to problem solving. And their collaborative, inclusive approach as well as participation are definitely needed in the Net-safety mix (see “Online Safety 3.0” for more on this). Think “social producing,” “creative networking,” or interest-driven, social civic engagement (see also the report of the Digital Youth Project). Friedman wrote: “We’re trying to deal with a whole array of integrated problems – climate change, energy, biodiversity loss, poverty alleviation and the need to grow enough food to feed the planet – separately. The poverty fighters resent the climate-change folks; climate folks hold summits without reference to biodiversity; the food advocates resist the biodiversity protectors. They all need to go on safari together,” he said, writing from Botswana’s Okavango Delta. “We need to make sure that our policy solutions are as integrated as nature itself.” Exactly. In other words, not just integration of skill sets within a field by “experts,” but collaboration among fields and disciplines, incorporating all skill sets, including the participants or beneficiaries of policymaking and education.

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