Technology is democratising several aspects of our lives that were limited to a privileged few hitherto — from communication to quality education. Mobile phones have played a key role in democratisation of the internet. Close to 60% of the global population is now active on the internet as of April 2020 (4.57 billion). According to a survey in 2018, in India, regional languages have surpassed English with a 66% share in overall content consumption.
This democratisation of ‘social-impact’ plays out in two distinct ways.
Gaming as a tool for social change
First, democratisation is now seen trickling down into gaming. Games have always provided a world for people to escape into and live a life which they normally wouldn’t have the freedom to be able to do. Now, in India too, the gaming industry is fast maturing. The industry is expected to gain momentum and reach a market value of USD 1 billion and ~310 million online gamer(s) by 2021. This growth is expected to be further supported by an increase in local developer base and focus on the development of content with local themes. The gender disparity in gamers in India is expected to improve with female gamers rising to 33% of the total gaming population.
Games like Minecraft have been a long-standing testimony to this. Fortnite has also been known for conducting live events inside its gaming world. Marshmello, American DJ, performed last year attracting almost 10 million people to the event making it Epic’s largest virtual event. This year with rapper Travis Scott taking his concert virtual, these live events keep getting grander and more ambitious with themes, character size and effects changing with the songs.
Democratisation of Social Impact
Second, democratisation of technology also serves a greater narrative of how ‘social change’ or ‘social impact’ has become everyone’s baton. Everyone has the power and medium in their hands, at a minimal cost, to voice their opinion and hold others accountable for their respective acts. Individuals are actively seeking like minded people in order to strengthen their stand for a cause and build a community.
The year 2020 has made society look at itself in the mirror, and re-evaluate who they might even be associating with. There has been enough and more pressure that people have put on brands in order to do the right thing and resonate the values their customers stand for. This has followed suit with a formal ad boycott that started online in mid June after anonymous industry insiders began calling for brands to realign their spendings and stop spending on ad on Facebook because the platforms policies on rooting out misinformation and hateful content. The “stop hate for profit” campaign began to gain momentum after The North Face, Patagonia, Verizon and Ben & Jerry’s pulled out advertising on Facebook.
Here are some examples how Impact Democratisation as a Megatrend is manifesting itself further.
Who knew the best part about democratising gaming was that it would, in turn, provide enough freedom to liberate audiences. Even in the most restrictive countries where news is censored across the web citizens can now receive their news by loading Minecraft and flipping through the virtual bookshelves of The Uncensored Library.
Even if government censors try to hack and delete the library, multiple other server hosts in other countries are prepared to take over and protect it, thereby keeping the game alive. The project’s goal is to not only provide access to censored journalism but to bring awareness to the threats to the freedom of the press worldwide, as well as the draconian treatment of censored journalists who’ve stood up to their governments.
Collaborative cloud software fires the popular movement
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder key tools for organizing these protests is a surprising one: it’s not encrypted and wasn’t even designed for this purpose. It’s Google Docs. One of the most popular Google Docs to emerge in the past week is “Resources for Accountability and Actions for Black Lives,” which features clear steps people can take to support victims of police brutality.
Accessibility and live editing were the primary advantages of a Google Doc over social media. Docs is at once dynamic and static. Anonymity is another important advantage over any social media platform. Users who click on a publicly shareable link are assigned an animal avatar, hiding their identity. Google Docs allows for a wider breadth of participation for people who are not looking to get into a high-stakes political argument in front of millions of people.
At Turian Labs we have been watching the unfolding of social Megatrends closely. Technology has come a long way from connecting people around the world to empowering people through entertainment and education. It has also given people a platform to voice their opinions and be heard. The latter is most important because this is what true democratisation stands for, people’s concerns being heard and acted on. People have lost faith in institutional support and hence are taking their own measures. They are coming together as communities to give support to one another, but it’s not enough this support is a small wave, it needs to grow into a tide. This support need not be constitutional or regulated. It can come from any entity or individual, brand or person or even in the form of a simple message.