With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility - Christopher S. Penn Blog

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” – Stan Lee

If there was one takeaway that Chris Brogan and I wanted you to have from PodCamp Boston 3, it was this – you have superhero powers, and it’s time to use them.

One of my slides in the opening remarks showed this list of superpowers that 50 or 100 years ago would have been solely in comic books or other wild fantasy stories.

Story is told over and over again
Can influence the minds of millions
Has legions of allies ready to do battle
Can be heard around the world
Can know the thoughts of others
Can see and hear through walls

And of course, these mapped to our sponsors.

mDialog, Blip.tv
Blue Sky Factory, MarketWire
Mzinga
Utterz, Blubrry
Matchmine, MarketingProfs
ooVoo

Think about all of the power technology gives you. Google Maps lets you walk around at ground level or from 30,000 feet over a huge chunk of the inhabited planet. Google itself gives you incredible reach, access to more knowledge in the palm of your hand or in your lap than any human being has ever had. A simple cell phone lets you talk to someone in real time on the other side of the planet.

We forget we have these “powers” because we take them for granted. We grow up with them, and once the novelty of a new device, technology, or service wears off, we forget to explore what we can actually DO with them.

Take a step back. Look at the technology that surrounds you as traits of a comic book superhero. If a superhero had the powers you did, what stories would be written about them? What crimes would they solve, what lives would they save with your powers?

What if podcasting, instead of being a discussion about MP3 vs. M4A, RSS vs. Web, audio vs. video, was a discussion about how to get the best teachers in the world to every student who wanted to learn? What if social networks, instead of debating the merits and features of X platform, was a community trained in early awareness and intervention for things like teenage suicide? What parent wouldn’t encourage their kids to be a part of a social network if they knew that others were ready to lend a helping hand in troubled times?

Troubled times are what we live in now. Community is the foundation of your true power, while technology is the bridge from power to action to accomplishment. Awaken your superhero by looking at what you’re truly capable of, then go out into the world and do.

Where to start? Simple. Find a local non-profit, charity, cause, group, or other volunteer opportunity that has need. There’s no shortage of need today. Find a cause worth supporting, then lend your talents, powers, and insights to it. There’s just as much nobility and justice in helping search optimize the local animal shelter’s web site as there is in promoting the cure for cancer, and the lives you save are no less valuable. There’s just as much good done by doing local outreach that brings in 5 more cans of food to the local food bank as there is in broadcasting a global hunger charity drive. The person at the end of the day who gets another meal is just as grateful.

Use your powers. Awaken your superhero.

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