Brain Pickings

Clay Shirky on Social Media, News and the Democratic Process


The news on news, or what Twitter has to do with democracy.

Today’s continuation of video week is a particularly timely piece of sociocultural commentary — Clay Shirky’s TED@State talk about how cell phones, Twitter and Facebook are changing the world. Timely not only because those of us in the modern democratic world are completely immersed in these technologies, but mostly because we’re beginning to see them as tools of citizen activism and freedom of speech in areas where the democratic process falls short — most recently, the case of the social-media-powered Iranian national strike.

Media, the media landscape that we knew, as familiar as it was, as easy conceptually as it was to deal with the idea that professionals broadcast messages to amateurs, is increasingly slipping away. In a world where media is global, social, ubiquitous and cheap, in a world of media where the former audience are now increasingly full participants, in that world, media is less and less often about crafting a single message to be consumed by individuals. It is more and more often a way of creating an environment for convening and supporting groups.” ~ Clay Shirky

Although the idea isn’t new to those of us who have been paying attention in the past couple of years, Shirky contextualizes it in a way that points to the ever more rapidly impeding end of top-down news, which is in turn effecting the next big leap in the evolution of politics.

Watch, appreciate the era we live in, and go tweet about it.

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