Doubting Castle 2: How Social Media Can Make History

Hi, I just watched Clay Shirky’s presentation on the transformed media landscape. It was very interesting to listen to as he uses real-life stories to explain the transformation. His examples given on China’s earthquake, the Great Firewall of China and Video the Vote 2008 basically demonstrated how social media has helped citizens in suppressive regimes to report on real news, bypassing censorship and how this changes the nature of politics. His lecture was a real eye opener to how social media has played an important factor in much bigger systems than just the obvious ease of connectivity between people all around the world.

Shirky lays out the three big changes from the media landscape:

  • the internet allowed the many-to-many pattern of communication
  • the internet is the motive carriage for all other medium
  • the internet allows for members of the former audience to be producers and not just consumers (because the same equipment let you consume and produce — phones, laptops etc.)

“Media is increasingly less just a source of information,

and is increasingly more a site of coordination.” -Clay Shirky

This is one of my favourite quotes in his lecture as i cannot agree more with what he said. Media was primarily a source of information, but with immense developments and advancements in technology, media has also created a space for people to interact, cooperate, and work together. However, it is true that “innovation can happen anywhere that people can take for granted the idea that we’re all in this together”.

Shirky’s example on the China earthquake clearly demonstrated how social media has changed the way news is being spread. He mentioned that China’s government took 3 months to even admit that an earthquake has happened but that the government had no opportunity to even hide the recent earthquake because their own citizens already “beat them to the punch” by tweeting about it. This shows that new media and technologies have enabled new types of cooperative constructions to bloom in business, science and other industries that i believe will lead to a tremendous change in the system of many governments and organisations.


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