It's a social world out there.

Together, we can.

Posted on: November 2, 2009

As explained by James Surowiecki in his Ted Talk entitled, When Social Media Became News, “The mass together is far smarter than it’s smartest individual.”  This mention in 2005, gave a preview of how powerful social media would become. In 2005, blogging was on the forefront of the social media scene, and became the main source of communication after the Thailand tsumani in 2004.  Blogging around the event was one of the first times the world saw social media’s way of pushing news.  Blogs from survivors were pushed around the world and it became clear the news could be reported by the people.

Blogs were different from mainstream news, as those reporting were not getting paid. They were writing to tell stories, because they have personal investment in an issue. The opinions and knowledge that comes from blogs is often far more valuable than what we can read in the paper, it is not forced, it is raw.  This is the basis of all social media. People who are active members of the social media scene are there because they love it.  It provides an emotional connection to others. The audience of social media are also the participants. They are invested and together are a powerful and smart body.

In June 2009, Clay Shirky gave his Ted Talk, How Social Media Can Make History, this talk gave what seems like an update on Surowiecki 2005 talk.  Shirky uses an example that is now a staple is the successful use of social media, The Obama Campaign of 2008.  The campaign that won the Illinois senator the election relied heavily on the use of social media sites to reach the 20-30 year olds, and did so extremely successfully.  My Barack Obama was a site launch by the Obama Campaign, this was place supporters could follow and comment on recent talks, visits etc.  As Shirky explains, when a follower made a negative comment about an Obama claim, the administration did not hide, they did not remove the post or brush it under the rug. In this example, Shirky says, ” We see the mature use of social media. The Obama administration was trying to convince it’s following, not trying to control them.”  Social media is about convincing, about making people believe in you, not trying to control what they think, but giving them real information.  The Obama Campaign used many social media outlets including MySpace and Facebook, as well as e-mail and text message when trying to convince the audience of his cause. This mature and well-thought out use social media will forever be a premiere example.

Shiky finishes his talk by explains what media is today, saying, “Now media is: GLOBAL, SOCIAL, UBIQUITOUS, and CHEAP.”  Social media is the leading medium today, it is all of the above. We are globally connected, social, it is happening everywhere all the time, and is almost exclusively free.  Social media has only just begun.



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