25 Feb 2015 8:39 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

A colony of ants, when in water, can form a buoyant raft made from their bodies. They do this in order to keep their larvae and queen from harm as well as ensure the livelihood of the colony. This is all accomplished without a leader.

Ant rafts are an example of swarm intelligence. While there are other examples of swarm intelligence and how humans learn from this behavior, I am focusing on that of the ant rafts as it speaks to collective actions and social impact.  

In using the inspiration of ants and swarm intelligence, I want to discuss how we, as globally mobile individuals, can use social media for collective engagement and utilize these virtual networks for positive social impact. 

Below are a few ways we can enrich and carry the conversation from #FIGT15 forward. I’ve also included the symbols and language that generate increased exposure.

1. Set a common language



At the #FIGT14 conference, we were buzzing with vocabulary like #spartners and #ubuntu.  In posting these on social media, we helped to spread the common language beyond the confines of the conference.


2. Invite others to the conversation



Connecting an individual or an organization that would find inspiration in or add to a cause or conversation, helps diversify the voices involved. By using the handle (FIGT = @crossingculture on Twitter) of the individual or organization we want to engage, we can connect them to the dialogue.


3. Ask people to spread the word

RT/ Repost/#LI

Encourage others to engage their networks for the #butterflyeffect to take flight. You can ask people to please retweet (RT) on Twitter or to post on LinkedIn (#LI) or Facebook to spread the word via other social media sites.


4. Favorite posts to show support


Favoriting posts and following individuals & organizations who support a common value reinforces a sense of #community.


5. Start a dialogue using multimedia


Pictures, videos, and more can encapsulate all that we want to say and often more. If others cannot be at #FIGT15, then bring the conference to them!

In an FIGT blog post that I wrote last year I spoke to how we, as globally mobile individuals, have some of the most effervescent networks. We all carry the message from the Annual Families in Global Transition conference through engaging in #kitchentable conversations, joining #FIGTAffiliates, contributing research , through social media and so on.

Although using swarm intelligence through social media is quite different from how ants utilize such acuity, the immense social impact from this sort collective behavior has its parallels. 

I am looking forward to bringing the thought-provoking and socially impactful conversations from #FIGT15 beyond the conference. If you’re not attending the conference in person, be sure to tune in via social media!

Contributed by Mary Margaret Herman, a dual-citizen with an Irish and U.S. passport who has taught in France and works in the post-graduate education sector.  She is currently serving on the board of directors for Families in Global Transition. 


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