Blog: 16 “How social media can make history” TED presentation by Clay Shirky


TED: “Clay Shirky: How Social Media can Make History”

I love TED presentations. They are so cool!
This one was so interesting, Clay Shirky, explains how Social Media is making and changing history as well as changing the ways people communication between others.

Shirky says that Internet is the next revolution; it is “many-to-many.” This means that many people can reach out and communicate and share with many other people. Unlike in the past before the Internet, for example the phone is a one-to-one where one person contacts one person. A few other examples are the radio, public papers (newspapers and pamphlets), books, and television which is an all many-to-one. Many people, writers, speakers, and actors/directors can reach out and inspire, share, and communicate with one or a singly person at a time. Shirky says that the “Internet is a mash up of all technologies…everything from our past can be found online – everything is mashed up and next door to each other.” He is so right! I can make calls (for free) to anyone in the world from my computer, I can listen to the radio and watch TV shows and movies from my computer, I can read newspapers and books from my computer and I am able to do all those things at the same time if I wanted to.

“The Internet is still changing after 20 years [and] becoming more social,” says Shriky. He uses China’s more recent and deathly Earthquake to explain this statement. The news about China’s Earthquake spread faster than news has ever traveled before, and it was spread by the people of China not the news reporters. The horrible news was spread from person-to person my texting, posting, and tweeting. Civilians were sending images of the damage to Facebook and Twitter and through text messages, which lead to the spread of the news via the Internet and Social Media. The Chinese government learned about the Earthquake from its citizens. With in the first hour of the quake if you search for the Top Ten links sent/shared (in the world) you would of seen 8 of them links to China’s Earthquake and other sites like the US Geological Survey. Only a half a day later donations sites popped up everywhere. After the earthquake protests broke out because civilians found that the school buildings were not built to code and collapses during the quake killing hundreds of children.  Protesters used social media to spread the word and get more followers. The Chinese Government now has to make a difficult decision. They have to choose to open all gateways to the Internet or shut the Internet down completely. They have to act because the Internet is full of new (amateur) news that is becoming harder and harder to filter and the Chinese government can no longer handle it all.

Shirky moves on to Obama’s campaign site. Where millions of people rushed to support him then he changed his view on a particular point and his supporters disagreed with him. They made a new site that was agents Obama’s view. These, now angry and disappointed, supporters realized that Obama never shut down the site; he didn’t try to hid what the supporters had posted on his site. Shriky called this example, “Mature use of Media,” where Obama convened with the supporters and did not control these supporters.

The TED presentation ended with Shirky explaining that “[the Internet] is a way of creating an environment for convening and supporting groups.” With that information Shirky asks, “How can we make best use of this media?

Photo of Clay Shirky at TED

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