I took a couple of notes from Clay Shirky’s TED presentation on how social media can make history (thanks for sending it to me, AbsolutEvan). I embedded the video here and encourage you to watch it:
In a world where media is global, social, ubiquitous and cheap, in a world of media where the former audience are now increasingly full participants, in that world, media is less and less often about crafting a single message to be consumed by individuals and is more and more often a way of creating an environment for convening and supporting groups. The question we all face now is how can we make best use of medium, even though it means changing the way we’ve always done it.
1) If you want to have a conversation in this world [The traditional media landscape we had in the 20th century] with one other person, if you want to address a group, you get the same message and you give it to everybody. Now, many can talk to many. The Internet is the first medium in history that has native support for groups
2) Media is increasingly less just a source of information and increasingly more a site of coordination, because groups that see or hear or watch or listen to something can now gather around and talk to each other as well.
3) Members of the former audience can now also be producers and not just consumers.
It’s not just a question of the Internet or no Internet, as the Internet becomes more social.
That’s not all: the last time China had an earthquake of this magnitude, it took them three months to admit that it had happened. Now they might have liked to have done that here, rather than see these pictures [of the Sichuan quake], but they weren’t given that choice because their own citizens beat them to the punch.
The media was produced locally, produced by amateurs, it was produced quickly and it was produced at such an incredible abundance that there was no way to filter it as it appeared. So now, the Chinese government, who for a dozen years has quite successfully filtered the Web, is now in the position of having to decide whether to allow or shut down entire services, because the transformation to amateur media is so enormous that they can’t deal with it any other way.
[The audience] is no longer disconnected from each other.