I first wrote this post on EMC’s internal social media site. I want to share it publicly (especially with my edupeeps!).
I find myself saying that phrase – The world is changing right in front of our eyes – more often these days. I can see this so plainly, and it shocks me that there are still people who can’t see it.
The glaring example right now of how the world is changing is the post-election conflict in Iran. I’m pretty comfortable with Twitter, and when I started seeing the #iranelection hashtag I had to go check out what was going on. The images and videos being linked to from Twitter were pretty horrific. The university kids being beaten are the same age as my son. All I could see was him and his friends, who are all extremely active on their campuses, standing up for something they believe in and being beaten.
I figured, given the history of communications in Iran, the government would swoop in and put a stop to all external communications. And they tried to – in their old tried and proven ways to control the communications.
But the government officials didn’t count on Twitter. They didn’t count on the twitter users in Iran being sophisticated enough to get around the network changes that they put in place immediately after the polls closed. They didn’t count on the people using these new tools to organize escape routes and demonstrations. They didn’t count on the images touching ordinary people in the west to the point that non-technical people learned to set up proxies so the information could keep flowing. They didn’t count on the power in connecting an American mom of a college age kid to a networkthat is trying to protect college aged kids on the other side of the world from tyranny.
They couldn’t see that the world is changing right in front of their eyes.
The Western news media couldn’t see it either. I had been following the uprising on twitter for two days before I saw any mention of it on the national news. There was even a hashtag – #cnnfail – to try and shame CNN into reporting on the protests.
Clay Shirky has said that this event – how Twitter was used during the Iran election protests – is “the big one“. The big example of a fundamental shift in the way our world communicates. Here’s what he said about the use of social media to broadcast the events in Iran:
Twitter so simple and so open that it’s easier to integrate and harder to control than any other tool. At the time, I’m sure it wasn’t conceived as anything other than a smart engineering choice. But it’s had global consequences. Twitter is shareable and open and participatory in a way that Facebook’s model prevents. So far, despite a massive effort, the authorities have found no way to shut it down, and now there are literally thousands of people aorund the world who’ve made it their business to help keep it open.
If you have not read Here Comes Everybody go out and buy it NOW. In the book, Shirky compares the societal changes after the advent of the printing press to what we are seeing today with these new collaboration tools. Think about the changes we’ve seen in the last several years:
- The entertainment publishing industry has given up on prosecuting people for using these tools to share content, and instead has come up with a strategy to use the tools to distribute music and movies.
- The newspaper industry is in crisis because the old way of distibuting news is becoming obsolete
Who will be next because they cannot fathom that the world is changing right in front of them? Marketing? Education?
How much longer is it going to be before everyone can see that the world is changing? What do we need to do to show people the change is happening *now*??
I don’t work on social media for EMC from home because its a game to me, or because its a cool new distraction. I do it because I see the world changing, right in front of my eyes. And I want to be part of that change.