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Rushes Sequences - Gina Bianchini interview - USA (Video)

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Dan Biddle Dan Biddle | 14:30 UK time, Saturday, 28 November 2009

Gina Bianchini is CEO and co-founder of Ning. She met with the programme four team to discuss online social networks and the changing nature of relationships and human interactions in the connected world of the web.

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(Please note that this transcript is the 'raw data' text we receive from a transcription company. It is a tool commonly used in production to facilitate editing and review the content. We publish it for users in that same spirit, rather than it standing as a 'perfect' representation of the content.)

Gina      So, regardless of whether you think, you know, social technology and the internet is good or bad, it is. This is what, you know, the genie is out of the bottle, and I think that's an amazing thing. The social web can do more good in the world than it can do bad, and it's the choice of people and the people who are using it as to what they want to do with it. It is the most empowering generational shift that has ever happened, and I think that that is what makes it so compelling and so inspiring, and so much fun. When you look at the fact that you can be sitting in your pyjamas on your couch and help-, help drive, you know, world peace, that is actually happening today, that's possible in a way that it was never possible before, and I think that that's something that is incredibly important. So, you know, does it mean that people have shorter attention spans? Yes, but is that a bad thing? Maybe, depending on what your point of view is, but in terms of what it can actually enable socially, economically and politically, I think that we should embrace and welcome social technology, not fear it.


Intv     So basically we're saying, can we judge the social networking revolution as good or bad?

Gina     So when I look at whether social technology and the social web is a good thing or a bad thing that's horrible for society or wonderful for society, I think the reality is that it's here. It's not going away. And so, it's up to people who use it to decide whether it is going to represent the best of human nature, or the worst of human nature. And realistically, it's probably going to be a little bit of both, but what is possible today with social technologies is profound. Namely, you can be sitting at your house, in your pyjamas, and you can actually impact the lives of someone sitting in a country hundreds of thousands of miles away, that is wrought with political strife. You can say, 'I'm here, I'm listening to you.' One of our-, one of our Ning networks is er is the Congo Wall, which was created by Eve Ensler who had just gotten back from the Congo with her V-Day organisation, where women are being brutalised as a-, as a means of fighting war. And the fact of the matter is, they feel alone. And with social technology women from all over the world can come to this-, this Ning network and leave a message for the women of the Congo, 'You're not alone.' And those messages, over 2,000 women and men around the world actually contributed one of the-, contributed a message, they printed them out and took them to the hospital in the Congo where women were recovering. No one is alone anymore, and I actually think that's a really powerful thing. You can sit at your house and make change. And we're talking about social change, and political change, and economic change, in a way that was never possible before, and I think that that's something that we should embrace and that we should look at what are the ways that we're going to make it the best of what people can be, as opposed to the worst of what people can be.

Intv  What have we just seen, particularly in light of, say, the last presidential campaign now, Barack Obama being in office, this sort of transformation of social networking, sort of, coming out of the playtime and actually influencing institutions [and convincing people]?

Gina    So fundamentally, again, social technologies are reflective of human nature, whether it's, you know, connecting you to the people that you know, or connecting you to people around the things that you care about. And when you look at it in that context, everything that people are doing in terms of learning how to connect with other people online, is towards a common goal. So whether that common goal is sharing news articles for fun, or, you know, entertaining themselves by listening to amazing music in the context of a artist fan site, or an artist website, or a MySpace page or a Facebook fan page. All of those skills can actually be used for anything, so we have-, we have a Ning network, the Pickens Plan, which is er here in the United States T. Boone Pickens, who was a-, has been a big oil entrepreneur over the years, is passionate about wind energy. Over 200,000 organisers across 91% of the congressional districts in the United States have come together in a social activism network and changed the course of wind energy policy in the United States. The same exact foundation, the same exact technology is being used for people to express themselves around their tricked-out cars and DUB pages, which is a social network name for people who love to trick out their cars. So as people are actually learning how to use social technologies, they are using them in all sorts of ways, so of course, social technology is going to have a massive impact in terms of how people organise politically, what they do economically, and how they express themselves as being unique individuals in a social way. So I actually think and really look at it as, the skills people are learning across all of these facets of the world um it's not a surprise that they're using them for political activism. And I think that the part about it that is just amazing is the fact that it is global. Ning, when we launched, in 2007 we launched Ning Networks, we had registered users in over a hundred countries, day one. The internet is global, the world is global, and I think that when you look at, you know, the fact that media is global today in a way that it never was before, it is going to have a fundamental impact on the way the world works, and I think that's a good thing.

Gina     I almost wonder if on some level the problems that we have to tackle as a human race, you know, have presented themselves at the exact same time that the technology to actually address them in a compelling, global way, has also appeared. So, if you look at it, you know, that the kinds of things that we have to solve, as global citizens, we actually have the tools to be able to solve them, in part because of the-, what makes people so special, which is the fact that we're innovators and we are people who can change the world. So, we now have tools, I mean, 25 years ago we didn't have a way to impact the world in one single instant. Today we do, and it's through the internet.
Intv   Going back to web natives, the people that have only grown up knowing online, is this generation going to be alright? Are the kids going to be doing okay?

Gina    Kids are alright, the kids are alright. No, I absolutely believe that the possibilities and the opportunities for people to live a rich, passionate life that allows them to express themselves in all the ways that they want to, regardless of where they live geographically, I don't think it gets any better than that.


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