Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Will social media change history? (Part II) Yes, undoubtedly

The debate on the future of traditional media is ongoing, most recently with Steve Ballmer arguing that the crisis is structural.

On the other hand, the debate on the relevance of new media is over. Social media is definitively centerstage, having become the primary source for news from Iran.

Iranians are taking to the streets armed with their mobile phones. Hundreds of videos have been posted on YouTube from the Teheran area in the last month, defying violence and censorship.

Iranian bloggers and tweeters post around the clock, risking their lives, feeding volunteers worldwide who aggregate news and repost them in real time (like Ezekiel on FriendFeed).

Support from abroad also flows through social media, despite the Iranian government's crackdown, with a group on Facebook attracting over 160.000 supporters in 10 days...

...and Joan Baez posting 'We shall overcome' with lyrics in Farsi from her kitchen straight on YouTube.

Whether or not this is enough to topple a government remains to be seen, but social media is surely making history and contributing to democracy.

And will continue to do so as long as the Net remains free and neutral.

PS Yes, we have seen some hint at this in Italy as well.

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