The Observer

New Power by Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans – review

The Observer, Hannah Jane Parkinson

You couldn’t wish for two better people to write this explanation and exploration of new power than Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans. Heimans founded GetUp!, a non-partisan political engagement organisation in his native Australia. It has more members than all of the country’s political parties combined. Timms is executive director of 92nd Street Y, a cultural centre. He had the idea of #GivingTuesday to encourage philanthropic acts (inspired by the capitalistic Black Friday). Like all good memes, it has been adopted and adapted globally, and is a perfect example of how, as the two men note, “a movement is successful when it moves on its own”.

But what is “New Power”? It is about values and, more importantly, how those values are structured and realised. New power focuses on collaboration and participation and transparency. Its methods include crowdsourcing, social media campaigns and decentralisation. “Old-power” institutions have strict, formal structures, centralised power and tend to operate esoterically.

Anyone other than those completely disengaged with world events will have noticed the growth of new power; and, in some areas, the ways old power has either dug in or attempted to adapt. Just one of the areas in which this book excels is in its carefully selected but abundant case studies. These are global and cross commerce, politics, entertainment, the charity sector and social media. There is #BlackLivesMatter in the US; the beginnings of the hugely popular online craft store Etsy; the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised millions for a little-known disease. There are numerous examples that exist outside of this book. Off the top of my head: the Gambia elections; the number of people who have had their healthcare paid via fundraising sites; #MeToo.

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