Tuesday, January 20, 2009

History in the social media age

Like most of the rest of the free world, I find myself watching the inauguration ceremonies in Washington. For some reason, technology and culture always seem to influence my thinking at moments like this. Today's no different. Here's a snippet...

One of the benefits of being alive at this point in history is the pace with which technology evolves - and the pace with which this evolution is reshaping how we experience the world.

That reshaping touches us every day in fairly mundane ways, of course, but we tend to notice it most around significant historical events. You know where you were on 9/11. You remember how you first heard about the Challenger explosion. You remember when a friend first used Facebook to share pictures of her newborn child...right from the hospital.

Today's another one of those milestones in technocultural history, where the shifting mix of media richly colors how we experience the day. Already in the run-up to today's inauguration of Barack Obama as U.S. President, I touched off a bit of a kerfuffle on my Facebook page with a status update yesterday. Here's what I said last night, tongue firmly in cheek:
I hear tomorrow's some kind of important day. Can't quite put my finger on it...
Before long, contradictory responses zinged across the page. Politics conflicted with the personal as folks from many of my circles intersected in a spontaneous argument over the significance and meaning of America's new leader.

This kind of discussion would not have been possible when the last president was crowned. The game seems to change, radically, with each major historical milestone. Indeed, one wonders how technology will influence our discussion four years from now.

Your turn: How will it evolve? Where's the new/social media revolution taking us?

One more thing: Do you do Facebook? Twitter? Click the links to if you find yourself in need of even more static from me.

9 comments:

Beverly said...

It is truly amazing that we can be part of it all. No matter our political views, it is thrilling to be an American and to witness the change in power so seamlessly. God bless America!...and Canada.

kenju said...

I will readily admit that I have NO idea where it is going - since I am still amazed at what has happened thus far.

photowannabe said...

Like Beverly I am truly amazed at the way our world is evolving, and I am happy to be a part of it.
I visited you on facebook too.

Linda S. Socha said...

These are surely chaotic but interesting times. I am new to your blog and found it via my friend Charli. I like your writing style and can tell you are a committed writer.
Please stop by Psyche Connections for a visit. Lets consider exchanging blog following connections if you have an interest
Linda

Lyn said...

I agree that technology revolutionized the US election. Obama was the first presidential candidate to implement a social media strategy. And it worked. It engaged the public and invited their participation. I followed his Twitters, facebook, You Tube and everything else online. I also wonder what this explosion of social media will mean to us on a personal level? After a spirited conversation with my communications colleagues a while back - I went home and (of course) blogged about it! Anti social media.

WA said...

I was just thinking about how Obama's barely made a step today that I wasn't watching. There's a new kind of intimacy with him that I've never seen before.

Sleepypete said...

I think we'll both lose something and gain something with the communication revolution we're going through at the moment.

Before, there would be groups of people going out to socialise, now we do a lot of our socialising online. There is a huge amount more variation in who we connect up with now but we may be losing something by only having words without the face to face aspect.

Who knows for the future - instead of heading to the local to have a drink, meeting up in the virtual pub ? It's on the way ! One of the forthcoming features for the Eve Online space game is going to be the ability to walk around the space stations ... So instead of descending on the Wishing Well pub for a meet up, it could be the space station orbiting the 3rd planet of somewhere in New Eden.

I think the barmaids will be prettier in the Wishing Well.

Facebook & Twitter - nah :-) Although my resistance to Facebook may break down ...

Tanya (aka NetChick) said...

Here's my take on it... Social media and connectivity in this age has dramatically blurred the lines between the personal and the professional.

We're always connected -- Usually using device we use for business, so it's not surprising when these worlds collide or combine, for me at least.

My business life is pretty much a part of my personal life. Gone are the days of the office door closing, not to be reached on a Friday evening until the start of business on Monday morning.

Wow, how times have changed. I'm not sure I could have survived in that age of conventional phone and no computer giving us instant access. In fact, when I watch "Mad Men" on tv depicting an era of just that, I amuse myself thinking about what would have happened if I was born just a few decades before.

I guess for those of us that didn't go to high school in the age of computer use (wow, that makes me sound old, and I'm only 38) it's been interesting to see things change so rapidly for the next generation of the "always-connected". I'm sure they'll have the lines blurred even more than ours are.

Laurie said...

Americans in general are an impatient people...I worry that all the expectations we have for this new era will not come true fast enough to satisfy the "I want it now" mentality of this country when it comes to what they expect from their politicians. It would take a true miracle worker to get it all done.

I think technology has really added to the impatience of this modern world. I remember when I thought my first PC which ran DOS was a real miracle of technology that did things with lightning speed, then my first dial up internet connection was another miracle, but now I get frustrated when a page takes more than a few seconds to load...I want it NOW! I think this carries over into much of our lives.