I think the changes that will be wrought by new technologies on philanthropy and public problem solving will be in the creation of whole new entities, partnerships, structures and incentives - not using social media as a 'new' battering ram on the 'fortress gates' of institutions.
In this post on Armchair Activism, we find several examples of how web 2.0, instant feedback, bloggers as watchdogs, etc. are leading to change in American politics. The authors posit four organizing principles for those who aim to use new technology to advance a progressive political agenda (many others care about this also, see, for example, NDN and Skyline Public Works)
The four principles:
1. Progressives should think creatively about the potential of current technology to build power.
2. Networks of volunteers are particularly well-suited to gathering information.3. Progressives need just the kind of information volunteer networks can produce.
4. The time to start is now.These examples might fuel your imagination about what is possible for philanthropy. The key, the authors argue, is coordination and simplicity. MediaVolunteer is their contribution to the discussion - what do you think?