Technology, journalism, social media and social responsibility
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog saying that crowdsourcing is the biggest social media trend since the Millenium.
The events of the past couple of weeks seem to bear this out in dramatic fashion.
From Tunisia to Jordan, Yemen and Cairo, and then around the world, social networks are increasingly playing an important role in reporting and making news.
That is the essence of crowdsourcing, without the overt commercialism from which the term first arose; the organic delivery of news, and the immediate call to action that is created by the delivery of that news, has become the most compelling and powerful development in social media.
Even as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak moved with unprecedented audacity – and unexpected effectiveness – to shut down social networks like Twitter, the crowd moved in from around the world, creating and delivering new ways to move information to people on the streets. It was a stunning display of technological creativity by ordinary people around the globe in response to hardline government intervention against the free flow of information.
Of course, the events that led to this didn’t happen overnight. A people does not rise against its government in such numbers just because of a call to action. There had to be a deep understanding by everyone involved that the time had come to take back the government. The time of tolerance for bad policy and unresponsive leadership was over.
Whether the uprising succeeds in deposing Mubarak this week or in September, will depend largely on the collective intelligence that social media are crowdsourcing at this very moment. The world can only wait in anticipation for what is to come.
[Photo: Scott Nelson for New York Times]