June 17, 2009 – A recent Q&A session with NYU professor Clay Shirky provided some fantastic insight on how social media is changing way people are expressing and digesting information in real-time. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before “the big one” (as Shirky puts it) hit, meaning an event that would truly test the relevance of social media worldwide. After all, Twitter went from relative obscurity to national news headlines after the first reports of the Hudson plane crash were found to stem from an eye witness’s Twitter account, so why wouldn’t an even larger world event catapult its relevance into the stratosphere?
When the protests in Iran started last weekend after the country’s very controversial election results, people took to their Twitter accounts, providing real-time updates on protests from inside the fray. As Shirky suggests, ” We feel faster than we think. But Twitter is also just a much more personal medium. Reading personal messages from individuals on the ground prompts a whole other sense of involvement. We’re seeing everyone desperate to do something to show solidarity like wear green — and suddenly the community figures out that it can actually offer secure web proxies, or persuade Twitter to delay an engineering upgrade — we can help keep the medium open. ”
The “engineering delay” Shirky is referring to came from the US State Department, when it requested that Twitter not shut down for its scheduled maintenance because of the situation in Iran post-election and how Iranians were using the social media service to report what was happening around them.
The reach and impact of social media is only growing by the day. Are you ready to join the revolution?