Lessons from Rio+Social, by Roberta La Rovere

Veronica has her hands full with her Master’s dissertation – or sometimes with the cutest bulldog ever –, but she still has eyes everywhere. In this case, I couldn’t be happier to represent MadameHeringer.com at Rio+Social.

The event seemed to be tailored to my interests: digital media and global politics. Rio+Social’s objective was to bring together social media opinion makers, leaders in sustainable development and technology innovators to find an alternative path to a better reality for the next generation. Or as the UN calls it, the ‘Future we want’.

Talks were delivered in a room packed with approximately 300 attendees, all typing furiously on their computers or twittering from their smart phones. Some traditional media was present in the conference, but most flashes were coming from the audience that was broadcasting the event online. I felt at home, but also a little slow since I am not used to bombard my Twitter and Facebook with so much content at once: I was writing and filming and taking pictures all at the same time…but so was everyone.

A multitude of well-known faces paraded through the stage, leading the discussions about technology and its role in a sustainable future. Facebook director Leonardo Tristão explained how Facebook pages can serve as a platform for activism; UN Foundation and CNN creator Ted Turner praised sustainable consuming; and Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo explained how the NGO engages activism on and offline. An avalanche of inspiration delivered in one morning!

#RioPlusSocial was the top trending topic on Twitter on June19th. The hashtag  also trended worldwide and was twittered 16,000 times. According to the event organizers, around 1 million people were reached through Facebook as well.

However, can all this buzz on the internet make a difference? This was exactly one of the points made by Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable. Can online activism be considered slacktivism? Considering #RioPlusSocial results in just one day, it doesn’t strike me as a minimal effort from online citizens. At least I know I wasn’t slacking!

What do you think? Could Rio+Social create a global sphere of online communications by leveraging the importance of technology and social media?