03 Jun 2011
By Ehon Chan

Unleashing Human Capacity with Technology


During the dot-com bubble, the transition from an industrial-based economy back in the late 19th to 20th century to a technology-basedworld has resulted in what was known as the ‘new economy’. However, as technology and communications advance, there are speculations of a new kind of economy influenced by information and resource flow, social capital and values – also known as the 21st century economy. It is clear that the advancement of technology and communications has led to significant implication on humans and the economy as new ventures and new ways of collaboration are rapidly emerging.

Our economy dictates how institutions are run. From schools to large corporations, and in all the different sectors, we segregate those who are either capable or incapable, and assumptions about what people can or can’t do or achieve. This leads to an inflexible system based on segregation leading to an infrastructural gap that encourages the perpetuation of unimaginative approaches to addressing social needs.

Well-respected economists, in particular, Umair Haque (Harvard Business Review) has many timesnoted that “the global economy faces a series of tectonic structural shifts” and made a callfor a “better kind of prosperity” and a “new set of institutions”. Haque argues we need to stop living in the 20th century and build a better 21st century – a reboot of prosperity – and one that is born from the bottom-up, focusing on individuals’ abilities and begins with each of us.

From mobile to wireless connections, we are more interconnected and we are more readily available to connect. Not only are we seeing new forms of communities (such as Social Change Collaboratory and Social Innovation Sydney) as a result of the hyperconnectedness but also we are seeing new forms of emerging ventures (Assetmap, Jumo, Sparked and Kiva) bridging the gaps between those who are interconnected on the platforms. These ventures are trading on social capital before economic capital, human potentials is becoming the new currency for innovation.

By connecting with new networks, sharing value and openly collaborating, we develop ourselves as individuals and as connectors – or nodes – within our network. This connectedness is what generates our social capital – the more we share, the more collective value we have.

This leads to the recognition of the impact of each individual have to contribute – bringing different sets of experiences, knowledge, tools and wisdom to create something bigger than the status quo – and recognition of every individual as a citizen with the ability and rights to participate in shaping their future. New media and other online platforms allow for these collectives to educate, broadcast, organise, share information, communicate, coalition build and engage.

The Gathering 11Harnessing this hyperconnectedness and unleashing human potentials is still not widely recognised, but we’re seeing events like The Gathering ’11 in Melbourne which seeks to co-create a better future together – recognizing the contribution of every participant at the event – and Innovate Symposium in Brisbane, an experiential event which brings individuals from different sectors and backgrounds exploring new forms of community organising, engagement and change.

Platforms like PlanBig and StartSomeGood are allowing individuals to develop their ideas, recognizing that every citizen has the ability to contribute and allowing communities to come together to help these ideas develop through sharing knowledge, resource and experience.

Collective actions such as GetUp and male mental health campaign, Soften Up are bringing together experts in various fields to take action on social issues in the community, maximizing their reach, impact and effectiveness. There is also organisation like School for Social Entrepreneurs Australia which seeks to help everyday people launch their ideas, projects and organisations which contributes to social good.

We’re seeing a shift, and we have to create a shift of thinking of social networks for social good: How we leverage these connections so that people can get better access to knowledge, resources and wisdom to bridge the gaps in addressing social issues. We need to think about how we can unleash these human capacities we have access to and look at collaboration in new ways. We need to view each individual as unique and has something to contribute. We need to break down the barriers we have to more meaningful collaboration and ways of working together, whether directly or indirectly. It is at these convergences that we see the best of innovations occurring.

It’s going to change how humans do things, especially young people, utilising technology to its maximum potential.

It will contribute to the already shifting ways of value creation and perception of “value” in a highly social and online world. Their ventures aren’t about the money or how to earn money, it’s about how can we add value to improving human lives.

To explore more, visit: and come co-create a better future with some of the world’s leading thinkers, collaborators, futurists, changemakers and innovators.

Please share your views with us or any other amazing social innovations you’ve discovered.


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