If you followed the #purposebiz feed yesterday, then you probably caught a glimpse of Michael Edson’s brilliance. His talk, “Let Us Go Boldly Into the Present," was a part of the Purpose-Driven Speaker Series sponsored by Open Text. Edson, the Director of Web and New Media Strategy at the Smithsonian Institution, walked us through the evolution of “here.” As in, where do we go from here? Depending on when you ask it, "here" can be anywhere.

Gonna Go Back in Time...

For his talk, which was live-tweeted on #purposebiz, Edson started in 1997 when loud dial-up modems, Geocities, Windows 97 and the Blue Screen of Death was the technology of the moment. From there, we went to 2002, then 2005 and 2006, paging through books by authors who got the social web, before there was a social web to get.

And then we were here -- a place where the future doesn’t matter as much as it used to. As it turns out, we can do more in the present than we can with where we’re going -- at least as far as our work in our organizations are concerned. The future isn’t as far off as it once seemed, anyway. With new technologies emerging every second (along with a new Facebook layout), it seems that it takes just as much effort to plan for the now than it does to plan for the future.

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...To Revel in the Here and Now

Edson outlined his Design Patterns for Going Boldly into the Present. They highlight the need to dig a little deeper, beneath vision statements and buzzwords, while clearly defining the ways we can not only bridge the gaps between “us” and “them,” but make it so our innovation breeds infrastructure. Finally, he reminded us that it’s not really about us, so much as it about what we can do. Ask not what social technologies can do for me -- ask what can I do to help facilitate the needs of the community. Make that your mantra, and soon your organization will have more purpose than problems.