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Tonight I was watching Ton Zylstra’s keynote at last year’s State of the Net.

In it, he highlights examples of how providing groups – networks – of people with the right tools can enable them to have an impact in their neighbourhood or community.

But, while watching the video I was unsure whether my grasp of the word “agency” was correct. From its context, it seemed to refer to the ability of an individual to have an impact? But until now, as a non-native English speaker, my usage of the word was limited to “commercial agency” or “government agency”. Google Translate wasn’t very helpful, but there’s always Wikipedia and DuckDuckGo. So this is what I learned:

Agency is a concept used in social sciences, and it generally refers to:

the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices.Wikipedia

But the way Ton used it aligns better with ThoughtCo’s Agency definition:

Agency is the power people have to think for themselves and act in ways that shape their experiences and life trajectories. Agency can take individual and collective forms.

So while my initial impression was close, I again learned something tonight. :)