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Enabling Social Change with Social Media: An Interview with Toby Daniels, Founder of Social Media Week


 CrowdcentricToby Daniels. Photo: CrowdcentricToby Daniels is a proud, self-proclaimed enabler.

The founder of Social Media Week (which is happening in nine cities, with an opening reception at NYPL, its global event partner) has worked tirelessly for years to bring social media tools into the hands of individuals, businesses, and non profits.

“These tools are essentially available for free,” he said of social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and so on. “The tools and technology are not a boundary to entry. They’re an enabler.”

Daniels’s company Crowdcentric owns and operates Social Media Week, which started in February 2009 in one city, NYC. About 3,000 people attended the 30 or 40 events Daniels hosted.

Only two years later, the completely free conference is biannual, and next week’s round is in nine cities, including London, Paris, Istanbul, São Paulo, and Hong Kong. There will be about 500 events across those cities with up to 20,000 attendees (about 6,000 in New York alone).

“The mission really globally is to explore how societies, cultures, and economies both at the local, regional, and global level are becoming more empowered by this emerging global network of communication,” Daniels said. “And what are the implications of that when you think about education and health care or government and civil society or the film industry, news, publishing. Think of an industry that isn’t being impacted by social mobile media. You’d be hard-pushed to.”

He mentioned social media’s impact on non-profits like The New York Public Library, which is hosting four events plus the opening reception at its landmark building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

“[Non profits] have been able to start quickly, experiment, invest very little, and incrementally build on those successes over time, learning as they move forward from their mistakes and from the interactions they have with their users,” Daniels said. “There’s nothing, essentially, holding them back or making these kinds of strides.”

NYPL is the top public library on Twitter and on Facebook, and has popular Flickr and Tumblr pages as well.

“I think what the Library is doing is phenomenal,” he said. “I think it’s some of the smartest and most interesting stuff out there. I think a lot of people can learn from what you guys are doing. I don’t see very many [libraries] using social media. The future for any organization, obviously libraries included, is in being able to reach and engage your community through multiple mediums. The physical pieces will continue to be very important, but continuing to engage them elsewhere is incredibly important.”

The Library’s commitment to social media — and Daniels’s “passion for the space” on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street — made the two natural partners.

Two panel events are being held at the Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on February 8, 2011. The first event, at 11 a.m., will be on historical maps and how they can be made accessible and relevant using crowd-sourced, geo-rectifying technology. The second event, at 2 p.m., will highlight NYPL’s successful Twitter model, which won a PR News Non-Profit PR Award in 2010.

On February 9, 2011, at 1:15 p.m., the third event will take place at the Science, Industry and Business Library on Madison Avenue and 34th Street in partnership with The British Library’s Business & IP Centre — it’s a live webcast about the value of social media in Britain.

The last event at NYPL takes place on February 11 at 10 a.m. and is about the process of creating new resources to help researchers, students, geographers, urban planners, and the general public study 19th Century Manhattan.

“It’s important if you are in any biz where communication is fundamental to how you function how you reach, engage people, whether it be external or internal,” Daniels said. “Social Media represents an entirely new way to do that, so these panels should be really useful and important.”

Other locations for New York social media events include The Paley Center for Media, the Hearst Tower, The New York Stock Exchange, McGraw-Hill, Ogilvey & Mather, Time Inc., and The New York Times Building, among others.

Visit NYPL on Facebook and check out the Social Media Week photo album!

This post was originally published in The Huffington Post. View more >>

Future Library: Socializing History with Maps
February 8, 2011

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