Monday, July 28, 2008

Video Killed the Radio Star.... Social Communities killed...?

Clearly music videos, Mtv, VH1 and the likes revolutionized the music industry and the shift to music listening/watching. For movie watching, the same applied - laser disks, VHS tapes caused shifts in technology to CDs, DVDs, Video-on-demand to DVR and video downloads, flash movies and of course, who could forget - YouTube. And the list goes on... Now iPods, iPhones, Twitter, social media and so much more are causing change in how we go about our work, school or play.

I've started reading "Here Comes Everybody" by Clay Shirky. The basic notion is the power of organizations / groups without formal organization-like structures. And how this transpires is by way of enhanced communication tools that support group conversations and group actions. This is being made easier because the tools like social communities, blogs, wikis, Twitter, etc. are enabling sharing on a global scale by multiple individuals coming together. It's absolutely fascinating and I am not all the way through the book to provide a more detailed synopsis.

Our social tools are not an improvement to modern society; they are a challenge to it. New technology makes new things possible: put another way, when new technology appears, previously impossible things start occurring. If enough of those impossible things are important and happen in a bundle , quickly, the change becomes a revolution. (pg. 107)

Social networks and tools offer groups and individuals an increase in the power of communication and action outside traditional organizational structures. It is unprecedented. Look at how you obtain information in a Google search. Typically you will land on a Wikipedia result which contains information from a variety of sources or individuals. Blogs provide a wealth of information from average folks like you and I with their own perspective or thought around a particular idea or topic. Recently, I participated in an education Technology "unconference" called EduBlogger Con. It was absolutely amazing how individuals gathered to not only write about what was happening in a session instantaneously, but to also question and seek input from other individuals by way of Twitter or Live Blogging. Even more, several folks were video capturing the sessions live through a USTREAM connection allowing folks unable to attend live to be a part of the event from their computers at home. And to cap it all off, all communications were being aggregated online through Summize (now acquired by Twitter) allowing everyone to capture the days content and discussions both near and far.

I think it goes without saying, we are in the midst of a revolution. However, I believe that only a small percentage of organizations, institutions and individuals have fully begun to understand or embrace the "shift" we are in - including myself. During my past year and half at WeAreTeachers, I often wonder if what we are doing will be embraced by the mainstream when what we are doing is really for those individuals who embrace creating change and looking for way to engage and communicate through non traditional organizations much like what Clay Shirky writes about. We are trying to get teachers to reach globally and to share/teach through a social community with others that doesn't necessarily conform to traditional "school" formats.

So if what we are witnessing is a revolution, what is the tipping point that allows it to become mainstream? Surely is has to be more than just a small group of "bloggers" or leaders of the pack who embrace this notion. How does it become all inclusive in terms of how individuals leverage the global audience? How do we make this a part of how we teach in schools, engage in project in our work place, participate in community in our daily lives?

If video killed the radio star, will social communities kill one-way content creation/acquisition? What has or will social tools allow you to do - better?

More on Clay Shirky:

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