In a recent TED lecture, “How Cellphones, Twitter, Facebook Can Make History,” Clay Shirky describes today’s media as a “transformed media landscape.” This landscape has transformed from mass broadcast media like television and radio to become more personal and help us strive for community building.
Using examples from the Obama campaign, and the 2008 China earthquake, he demonstrated how social media changes an event’s outcome. My.BarakObama.com became a central location for campaign organization and discussion which ultimately affected change. A key point that Shirky mentioned is the site’s ability to assemble people, not control them. In the example of the China earthquake, Internet censorship provided a stark comparison to coverage by locals using social media during the event. Citizens actually reported the quake before officials recognized it. This coverage brought people to their feet demanding answers, and having China question additional censorship.
We can agree with Shirky that most all media has migrated over to the Internet. Radio, television, newspapers, and phones all are in one place. But what does that mean for us? This greatly impacts the way ordinary people tell their stories and communicate with others. Shirky talks about how technology becomes more fun when people take it for granted, and we can see this today. People no longer just snap a photo at a family gathering; they pull out their camera phone and video a funny moment, then mix it with some music and post it on their blog with some commentary. This commentary gets retweeted, forwarded, or mashed up with other content.
According to Shirky media is still becoming more social, so we’ll continue to see more innovations in how people portray themselves and communicate over the Internet. There are likely some combinations we’ve yet to see, but it’s certain this innovation can and will happen anywhere on the globe.