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It is interesting to me to watch the impact social media has had on traditional social structures. When I think of the gathering places in society – universities, churches, markets, town parks, social clubs – they are all struggling to find relevancy in the face of social media. The truth is, the fundamental reason these organizations were designed they way they are is to bring people together and share information, make decisions, and socialize with like minded people.

Social media makes it easy. I can update my Facebook page, send an email, tweet, chat, LinkedIn or take a look at how a project I am working on is going in Slack, all without ever having to be physically in the room with the people I am interacting with. That has a profound impact. It also gives us as a society a choice.

I am no longer tied into interacting with the organization closest to me, and I certainly don’t have to accept any negatives to joining groups if I don’t want to. If you want to have an exclusive club that costs $10,000 a year, and you require a 2 year acceptance period, I will just start my own club. I can do it as easy as getting a WordPress Blog up and running, setting up and EventBrite notification and spamming all my social networks at the same time using HootSuite.

If I need to collect dues, PayPal is still a good option, and if I need to raise money for a project, I can crowdfund it at Kickstarter or IndieGoGo.

This year at the Defense Entrepreneur’s Forum in Chicago, military members, veterans, defense civilians, and interested parties gather together at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. They wear collared shirts tucked into jeans instead of uniforms for the weekend. Many of them traveled on their own to meet with others that they had only previously met online. They are irreverant, uncouth, opinionated, and might just be the ones that save the traditional institution called the Department of Defense.

In the end, as Chicago wakes up around me, I realize that human beings will always have the need to physically meet each other, to talk, socialize and get true human contact.  Despite the diffusion of social media into our daily lives, we have a need to be together.

The difference is, we are no longer tied to old business practices our legacy organizations still maintain. We can change them. We must, else they become irrelevant and fade into the dustbin of history… and some will.

If you happen to be in Chicago, drop by. I’m running a Human Centered Design session on “The Death of the Veteran’s Service Organization” with my good friend Ciro Lopez.

If you can’t make it, follow at #DEF2016 and @defconference .

Innovate Hard,

Jason