11/21/2011 04:01 pm ET | Updated Jan 20, 2012

Citizen Media: Collaborating to Accelerate Change

The lexicon of new technology is so casual, you'd be excused for thinking the whole world is doing nothing online but goofing off and LOL-ing about. We chat, we surf, we tweet, we tag, we're on a cloud. But this language belies the fabulously serious business that is happening on these very robust tools.

At two recent Google+ Hangouts, for example, there was not a beanbag chair or a smoky corner in sight. The Hangouts were, though, very cool places to be for an hour on Monday and Tuesday last week.

About a dozen participants came from Egypt, India, Australia, the United States and beyond, sharing their cutting-edge ideas for enabling a more participatory citizenship with new tools and the unprecedented openness and access they provide.

All were finalists in the Google-supported Ashoka Changemakers global competition. The miles of distance between them evaporated as they discussed the innovations that are transforming the world.

They were an inspiring bunch, eager to share their unique ideas and learn from each other -- and doing so on a platform that demonstrates very practically the power of new media tools to foster collaboration, and therefore make social change happen more quickly and more profoundly.

Usually Changemakers finalist entries are posted online in text form, and the sharing of ideas typically happens on comment threads. But because this is a competition in partnership with the media/tech pioneer Google, the sharing of information, collaboration, and innovation got ramped way up -- thanks to tools such as the Hangout, one-minute finalist videos on Youtube, and coming soon, an interactive toolkit for citizen journalists.

Changemakers has been a leading platform for social innovators to grow and scale their ideas for a decade. This time, the very nature of the innovations and the competition theme itself enhanced the process, speeding up the rate of collaborative changemaking even more.

You can be part of that collaborative changemaking too, by voting for your favorite finalist until November 23rd. Four winners will win $5,000 each to grow their innovation.