Flipped Lecture One: How Social Media can Change the World

15 Oct

“Media is Global, Social, Ubiquitous and Cheap”– Clay Shirky



“While news from Iran streams to the world, Clay Shirky shows how Facebook, Twitter and TXTs help citizens in repressive regimes to report on real news, bypassing censors (however briefly). The end of top-down control of news is changing the nature of politics.” – http://ed.ted.com/lessons/clay-shirky-how-social-media-can-make-history

From the minute Shirky began speaking, to his audience, I was immediately glued to my computer scree. I found his lecture to be  absolutely riveting and compelling. I was so absorbed by what he was saying I had to watch it a second time to begin taking down notes!

“This generation… is the largest increase in expressive capability in human history…”

Shirky begins his presentation by explaining the evolution of media over past 500 years and why social media has great potential to create a history. He describes social evolution as having 4 instanced in the past 500 years where media has changed enough to qualify as a ‘revolution’. These include:

  1. The Printing Press
  2. The Telegraph, then the Telephone (conversational media)
  3. Recorded Media (other than print); photos, recorded sound & movies
  4. Radio and Television

Then came the Internet. The Internet, Shirky explains, is the first medium in history that has native support for groups and conversation at the same time.Through this, Shirky explains that Social Media has the ability to empower people – from consuming information, to participation, producing content, to enabling new kind of co-operative structures (which aid people to create organized groups or networks), to helping to collaborate against repressive regimes (like China) – to report on real news through bypassing censorships.

Key insights gained from watching Shirky’s presentation:

  • Tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.It isn’t when the shiny new tools show up that their new uses start permeating society, it’s when everybody is able to take them for granted.
  • In the case of social media, the tech transfer goes in the opposite direction that we think the tech transfer should go, from the developed world, to the developing world.
  • Because media is increasingly social, innovation can happen anywhere that people can take for granted the idea that we’re all in this together.
  • Media is less and less about crafting a single message to be consumed by individuals, and is more and more often a way of creating an envioronment for convening and supporting groups.
  • Media is increasingly a site of coordination, because groups that see or hear or watch or listen to something can now gather around and talk to each other as well.
  • Members of the former audience can also be producers and not consumers. Audiences’ are not longer disconnected from each other.
  • Media is more and more about crafting a single message to be consumed by individuals, and is more often a way in creating an environment for convening and supporting groups.

Clay Skirky

Who is Clay Shirky?

Clay Shirky is an American writer, consultant and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. Shirky is a distinguished writer at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, has a joint appointment at New York University and is an Assistant Arts Professor in the New Media focused graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program. Shirky is a profound expert in social media and the Internet and has written and been interviewed extensively about the these topics since 1996.


“How can we make best use of this medium, even though it means changing the way we’ve always done it”

How I believe Social Media is changing the world:

  •  Social media allows connection across billions of lives on a one-to-one basis in a way which is totally new.
  • The connections social media allows us to make do not just run from the inside out (i.e. from a communications challenged society to the ‘free world’ and back) but also spread within.
  • Social media has maintained the world’s attention and momentum in movements which might otherwise have fizzed or been squashed by their own governments.



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