Yesterday it has been five years since the Huffington Post, one of the most popular and influential blog portals and news aggregators in the world, has been launched. Just these days I have been reading book by its founder - Arianna Huffington. The book is called On Becoming Fearless...In love, work, and life. In the final part she wraps the story by discussing how achieved fearlessness could be used in personal life and in achieving social changes.
I find the following part inspiring in the process of thinking what factors would lead to the positive changes in the field of development. In other words, how much individual actions could help in the processes of common interest?
My optimism about our power to create socail change comes from the possibilities embedded in the concept of 'critical mass'.: When a change establishes itself in a few, it can quickly hit critical mass and spread to the many. To a physicist, critical mass is the amount of radioactive material that must be present for a nuclear reaction to become self-sustaining. In everyday life, critical mass is the phenomenon Malcolm Gladwell popularized in The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Ideas, behavior, messages, and products, he argues, often spread through the population like 'outbreaks of infectious disease.(...) Reaching critical mass is just as important in the latest fashion trend as in major political, cultural, and social change. Any new way of being and doing things manifests itself in the few before it spreads to the many. Social scientists have shown that a person's behavior frequently depends on the number of other people behaving in a given way. Whether it's an election, a protest, or a fund-raising drive for the local homeless shelter, this pattern can become self-sustaining and even accelerate once it passes a certain threshold of energy and involvement."
This, certainly, is not to deny importance and influence of institutional and systematic chnages. However, such changes are also at times started by one-by-one type of initiatives. Just like the new media ventures, like the Huffington Post, have influenced - for better or worse - contemporary media landscape.