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‘The End of Big’ Argues That Technology Helps The Little Guy

Author Nicco Mele writes about technology’s influence on politics in “The End of Big.” He sat down with PBS NewsHour political editor Christina Bellantoni.

I’ve long been fascinated with the fact that technology can make the world a smaller place. With every click, tweet and Internet meme, we become that much more connected with our fellow global citizens.

Our shared experiences can bridge chasms of culture, language and economics and technology can magnify them to help forge new relationships that make distance nothing more than a state of mind.

With the speed of my mouse, I can share every song I’ve ever enjoyed with a new friend using Spotify. Together citizens in every country can donate to a nation devastated by a natural disaster.

Consider that Kickstarter has funded 26,000 projects since it went live in 2008, allowing an ordinary person to produce the film of his or her dreams, or an author to reach millions around the world, all thanks to strangers willing to give a few bucks. And technology has opened up access to government data like never before.

What are the consequences to having such a connected society? Are there risks as well as rewards?

That’s all the subject of a forthcoming book that examines the nature of power in the digital age, “The End Of Big: How The Internet Makes David The New Goliath.”

I recently interviewed author Nicco Mele, who teaches about the Internet and politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, about his book and theories about the rapid change he calls “radical connectivity.”

The End of Big” examines democracy taking place outside our existing structures of power, government and big business. Mele argues that such an epic shift has given us the opportunity to “reimagine” society as we know it, and has returned power to the little guy.

Political junkies will remember Mele for pioneering Howard Dean’s online fundraising strategy a decade ago. Back then, the idea that small donations from many could add up to millions for a major presidential campaign seemed novel. Now, it’s the stuff presidents are made of.

Mele writes that “anyone can own a piece of politics” these days, and gives examples of ways people are reshaping their communities from the bottom up.

What do you think? Has technology empowered us?

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