A article in the November/December issue shows that the Google CEO and Ideas founder are thinking about disruption.
Jared Cohen was lured away from the Hillary Clinton's State Department earlier this year to form a group within Google called Ideas. From Cohen's earlier description of the work he'd be doing at Google:
[Ideas is] basically a think/do tank. Much of the model for it is built off of my experiences on the Policy Planning staff. It's not designed to be, "Let's pool all of Google's resources and tackle global challenges."
Called The Digital Disruption, Connectivity and the Diffusion of Power, the article (free reg. req) goes into a number of ways technology is transforming the way that governments and their constituants interact in a connected world. Some of the larger, more obvious examples of this new disruption are noted:
In Colombia in 2008, an unemployed engineer named Oscar Morales used Facebook and the free Internet-based telephone service Skype to orchestrate a massive demonstration against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. He was able to muster the largest protest against a terrorist group in history and the sort of high-profile blow to militants that no Colombian president has been able to achieve in the past 40 years. In Moldova in 2009, young people, frustrated and angry over a collapsing economy and fraying society, gathered in the streets of Chisinau after a rigged election. They used messages on Twitter to turn a small protest of 15,000 people into a global event. As international and internal pressure continued to rise, the rigged election was overturned, and a new election brought to power the first noncommunist government in Moldova in more than 50 years. And in Iran last year, YouTube videos, Twitter updates, and Facebook groups made it possible for activists and citizens to spread information that directly challenged the results of the country's flawed presidential election.
<!-- more -->Perhaps more than the content of the article itself, the fact that the new Google Ideas head and CEO are co-authoring Foreign Affairs stories shows that Google is thinking about its place in a rapidly changing world.
Schmidt and Cohen's relationship goes back before his hiring a few months ago. Below is a talk in March with Schmidt, Cohen and Alec Ross.