The Dragonfly Effect

Jennifer Lynn Aaker, Standford School of Business

During the recent Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, Jennifer Lynn Aaker from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business related a story about two young men who used the Web, email, social media, crowd sourcing and a range of Literacy 2.0 skills to combat a life-threatening illness.

If you want to understand the power of digital literacy and you have 9 minutes and 56 seconds to spare, watch this.

I won’t give the details or the outcome here. You need to see the presentation to get the full impact of what being literate in the Digital Era truly means.

At the conclusion of the story, Aaker explains a concept she and her co-author, Andy Smith, have dubbed the Dragonfly Effect, a process for creating big change through small acts. The process, which was inspired by the efforts of the two men to overcome their illnesses, consists of four stages:

  1. Concentrate on a single, focused goal.
  2. Grab the attention and focus of others.
  3. Tell your story and make others feel it.
  4. Enable others to act and make your goal their own.

There is nothing in the short description of the process that mentions technology. The Dragonfly Effect is not based on how technology works; it’s based on how people work. But, as you will hear in the story, digital tools, services and applications make it possible to do those four things faster, farther, wider and easier than has ever been possible before.

The new technologies combined with the new literacies make small acts loom large.

The moving story goes to the heart of what Literacy 2.0 is and what it means to individuals and society. It demonstrates what happens when digital technology and basic humanity intersect and merge in meaningful ways.

Photo: Stanford University

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