Clay Shirky: How social media can make history

09 Nov

Clay Shirky: How social media can make history

I’m uncertain if I like this new world of posting bi-weekly, it feels lazy. 

There’s actually a very psychological reason why new posts (for EDTalksTed) should be two weeks apart, and that’s to keep the method of Ted Talk ingestion closer on par with the general user.  Fact is, the typical TED viewer isn’t someone who is watching TED Talks on a daily basis. 

And so, when watching ANY Ted Talk, it’s normally taken in as a novelty, it’s new and there’s a natural curiosity.

In a very strange manner, this concept of ‘freshness’ also comes into play when examining the American elections (held earlier this week).  It doesn’t matter how often one watches election coverage, when it finally comes back around again four years later, it usually feels like a new experience.  Even more so, social media is adding to the mechanisms with which we ingest knowledge.  On to the Talk!


Date Filmed: June 2009

 Length: 15 minutes, 48 seconds

Total Views so far: 798,376

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Social Media

1. President Barack Obama sets new social media records regularly.

It was said four years ago, that Barack Obama was the FIRST president that had utilized the internet appropriately in his campaign.  Heck, this was even in the forecast before the results of the election at the time.  Social media in itself was still new (and is still new now), and it was in love.

People have grown to love technology, it isn’t just a tool anymore it’s a fascination.  It provides users with entertainment, a sense of pride and sometimes some feelings of comfort and stability.  More significantly however, is that these products are highly recognizable. 

Let’s add another detail to this as well, and that technology is creating shared user experiences.  We all have cellphones, we all know what they’re like.  They suck.  Reception issues, weird user interfaces, having to navigate through poorly designed electronic phone lists, cellphones might lift us onto gods as compared to other animals but they’re still a very humbling experience to use.

When someone sees a picture of Obama, chances are he’s using cellphone. 

This is probably just luck of the draw for photography purposes, but the resultant impact is still there.  To talk on the phone is a human experience, seeing someone talk on the phone, well, they’re just like everyone else trying to make it in the world.  A person on the phone is someone who is real.

And yesterday, Obama set a new record on Social Media with his tweet after being re-elected.

2. Crowd Sourcing is the ultimate Think Tank and Observer

Also recently this week on Reddit, social media possibly saved a life.  This news story is practically viral so chances you may have heard it already.  (So let’s pretend it’s five years from now and this is new to you)

A joke was posted where a man peed on his girlfriend’s unused pregnancy test and the result came back positive.  Much to the joke creator’s surprise, there was a resultant wave of responses warning that the man should test for testicular cancer.  He told his friend, whom the joke was from, and as a result his friend is now being treated for cancer.

Here’s where the ‘social’ in social media stands out.  It wasn’t a one way joke where the guy makes his joke and walks off stage.  It’s no longer a soap box delivery and people can make public responses in return.  That is, unless you’re an Xbox live user and you’re shouting obscenities into your headset.

I personally don’t use Xbox Live for anything, I just constantly hear about it.  And when it’s so bad that there’s parodies of it online, then it has to be real.

Xbox Girls Get Revenge

3. Social Media has become the tool for Social Self Vigilance

Shirky makes the comment right out of the gate with his talk where he talks how users of social media are using it to inform others of wrongs being made and reporting them. 

Doing a general search for how social media is used in this manner, from organizing international protests,  reporting unhealthy school lunches to recording police for offensive behavior, there is enough data on the internet to go all night and forever.

Social media is not just for duck faced photos and the pretentious who want to show off.  It just happens those pictures are usually more interesting.

Speaking of which, the rich kids of Instagram still remains quite popular, for reasons that no one can figure out.

Now a bunch of links, cause.. why not.

Arab Spring was a social media revolution

Unhealthy lunches!

Police sing Call Me Maybe  (ok, this might not be the most offensive example, but its hilarious)

Rich Kids making me hate my life, someone please pass me another package of Mr. Noodles so I can drown myself in its delicious salty broth of tears

4. Our social dynamic is changing faster than social media can keep up with it

Ok, I’m kind of lying here.  It isn’t that social media isn’t able to keep up with the changing social dynamic, it is that media still doesn’t completely cover all the needs of our natural social tendencies 

So without changing the human social world, the social media tools is still trying to keep up. 

Imagine moving into a new condominium.  They hand you your brand new door and locker keys and then also give you the electronic passkey for an email interface. 

This email interface gives you the farewell letter from the previous tenant.  Oh, that’s nice.

There’s general announcements from the building manager about upcoming repairs.  Useful.  Some general invites from someone on the second and fifth floors about an upcoming social function in the area.  There is someone on the tenth floor spamming about some community theater show they’re in and tickets will be sold in the lobby that Friday.

Wait a second, you didn’t sign up for an account, you were handed this account when you moved into the building. Yet, there is useful information already sent to you and/or waiting for you all because you updated your social ‘profile’ by becoming a building member.  

Our social profile changes so very quickly, from changing relationship status, being a bus rider because your car is broken down, or whether or not you decide to go on a diet. 

Now currently we have things like Twitter, where we can lumpsum place all our personal updates but this information isn’t spread in a manner that is particularly helpful to others. 

5. Social Media is an untamed beast that threatens us all

Social media is still quite new, and as such governments around the world don’t know exactly how to control it or even IF it should be controlled. 

Then again, it lets a piece of %&*$ blog like EDTalksTed exist, and I guess that’s pretty damn scary.

– Question and share


Leave a comment

Posted by on November 9, 2012 in Uncategorized



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: