If you had any doubts about the power and importance of social networking on the internet, the revolution in Egypt should have dispelled them forever. For the first time, we saw an entire movement organized and run on platforms that weren’t even around 10 years ago: Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. The young activists and students that spearheaded the effort, all secular, tech-savvy and wired, understood the new power at their disposal and made full use of it in the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
Announcements for protests were sent out via Facebook and Twitter. Unknown bloggers sent timely photos and videos in real-time from events as they unfolded, typed and shot on their cell phones, to sites like Facebook and Youtube, which streamed them out for all the world to see.
The implications of these changes are profound. I don’t pretend to be able to see around this corner, but I can recognize an information revolution when I see one. The tsunami has hit the beach!
On the New York Times’ web site, their ‘The Lede’ blog was the place to check. Their reporters sent updates from the scene in Tahrir Square. But perhaps more interesting was what else was there: aggregation links to no-name content providers who were also in the Square, and elsewhere in Egypt, filling out the picture of what was happening. Many of those individuals saw their Twitter followings explode as they provided what amounted to a news feed from the scene.
So the ultimate ‘newspaper of record’ started to look a bit more like the Huffington Post, aggregating content from others not even on the payroll.
What does all of this mean? One thing for sure: big, monolithic news organizations that don’t figure out how to harness this new reality are dead. But to be replaced by what?
Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog