Socially savvy geeks entail great benefit for the social sector

In his recent post at the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Daniel Ben-Horin, co-CEO at TechSoup Global, looks back at his experience at Campus Party Europe (Berlin, August 2012) where he met with several young developers from what he calls "a  generational cohort" who all believe in the transformative power of technology and represent a huge potential resource for social sector benefit.



Developed by the historians Michael Strauss & Neal Howe, a "generational cohort" is the idea that people born at the same time share similar social influences from birth and, over time, express this historical consanguinity in powerful cultural, economic, and political ways. 

According to Daniel Ben-Horin, there is a major opportunity cost if the social sector doesn't figure out how to engage these folks.


In his effort to understand the young geek zeitgeist, he presents a nuanced view of the different tribes of today's generational cohort of geeks/hackers/developers, and what drives them:

  • A first tribe are those developers that are attached to being with each other and to applying their skills together. They simply find joy in sharing, and don’t spend a lot of time on the “big picture” stuff: “Sharing is everything. We share because we need to share."

  • Another tribe are the visionary and socially savvy individuals who can provide above tribe with a common goal. "They're like a binding substance—like eggs and milk that can pull flour together into a dough” states Lucky Gunasekara, one of the geeks interviewed by Daniel Ben-Horin. They all speak one language: the language of working on a common goal to build something better. They build software prototypes without caring much about traditional threads of development such as money, stakeholders, organization, decision-making structures, infrastructure, and so on.

  • And there's another tribe, the ones who are concerned about the “big picture”. They like flexible and adaptive networks—transglobal social communes (physical or digital) where they can interact with one another in a common language: tech. They don't like brittle institutional bureaucracies, or the usual top-down structures, where you're told to do something because "I told you so, and this how things are done".

» Read the full article at Stanford Social Innovation review

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Comment by Lize De Clercq on September 26, 2012 at 17:38

I agree with Pepe's remark - as Daniel Ben-Horin states in his original article (the one above is just a resume):

"I don't want to go all happy-talk on you, about how idealistic young hackers are going to save us all. I haven't seen an app yet that can refreeze the polar icecap, dissolve corporate greed, solve the madness that is Syria, or [fill in your own nightmare here]."

Comment by PepeLuis Valentin on September 25, 2012 at 11:49

I think the technology is "only" a tool that will greatly assist the Social Innovation, which will only produce energy via smart people involved and respectful of the state in which it has an overview of the countries, particularly in the social sector. I think.

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