Thursday, October 25, 2012

How social media can make history

Ok, so I have been relying on TED for more than a few of my posts. But I could resist this post by Clay Shirky. It's a bit dated, but of course, it's very relevant to the events of the recent Arab Spring.

Shirky shows how Facebook, Twitter and TXTs help citizens in repressive regimes to report on real news, bypassing censors (however briefly). The end of top-down control of news is changing the nature of politics. He argues that the history of the modern world could be rendered as the history of ways of arguing, where changes in media change what sort of arguments are possible -- with deep social and political implications. 

Shirky's work focuses on the rising usefulness of networks -- using decentralized technologies such as peer-to-peer sharing, wireless, software for social creation, and open-source development. New technologies are enabling new kinds of cooperative structures to flourish as a way of getting things done in business, science, the arts and elsewhere, as an alternative to centralized and institutional structures, which he sees as self-limiting. In his writings and speeches he has argued that "a group is its own worst enemy."

Shirky is an adjunct professor in New York Universityʼs graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program, where he teaches a course named “Social Weather.” Heʼs the author of several books. This spring at the TED headquarters in New York, he gave an impassioned talk against SOPA/PIPA that saw 1 million views in 48 hours.

Source: Shirky, C. (Jun. 2009). How social media can make history. TED Conferences, LLC. Retrieved from

1 comment:

  1. I think that this is a very interesting point. I knew that this sort of modern technology was useful in a society such as ours, but the idea that it can be used in order to report cutting-edge news in places of the world where there is unrest was a bit of a revelation. It allows people to bypass restrictions that would usually keep certain types of news under wraps, and I think in most cases, this is probably a good thing because it allows people who might not know the true situation to understand better what is going on in their world.