As a new and social media group, we often get questioned and asked about the power of social media, how it works and how it can help either their cause, or business. Most of the questions are really about the fringes of the media and about frankly somewhat esoteric uses of the media.
What we usually try and do is two things.
First, we explain that as tools and technologies develop, they are not fundamentally changing what we as humans have always done. What I mean is that the WHY has not changed. For example, the Cornell Lab Of Ornithology is one of our clients and ‘birders’ have always been about communities; ‘birders’ have formed small or large birding groups in their communities going back since the first person wrote a note about seeing a bluebird on a winter feeder.
But now, the HOW has changed, the tools one can use to create a birder group are not flyers on the wall of a local store, or writing letters to friends. Now, we can create a Facebook group and the community is global, instant and free to join. How does it work? Well, the Cornell Group is just a few months old and has over 17,000 members.
Or Twitter. Yes, it’s only 140 characters and no, I am not sure about the revenue model. But over the weekend, if you wanted the best real time updates, going onto Twitter and searching #egypt was the way to go. You could see reactions from all over the world, and even some coming out of Cairo. Was it perfect journalism? No, but it was real.
As regards Egypt, or any powerful country that has relied on the holding of information as a key to power, the Internet, again in its fundamentals, is very powerful. It allows for information to be exchanged quickly, freely and easily. It allows people in Egypt to communicate with people around the world — we did a live blogger chat for our client Human Rights First a few months ago with a blogger who was on the ground in Egypt.
Imagine if the uprising had tried to take place a generation ago? How would the people in Cairo communicated with the people in Alexandria? Far less London? It would have been far harder, more time-consuming, more dangerous and more expensive.
Today, there’s a story about evening news anchors ‘rushing’ to Egypt to cover the story. Why? Being on the ground five days later, are they really going to bring anything to the conversation that we haven’t already seen, tweeted, YouTubed and Facebooked? I don’t think so.
Every day we see groundbreaking technologies and cutting-edge tools emerge online. But we still are far more likely to be reminded that every day, the power of what is happening around the world is not at the edges but at the core.