These days hysteria about social media has reached fever pitch. All signs are pointing to social media being the printing press of the 21st century. And like Gutenberg’s 15th century printing press, social media is a revolutionary tool will thousands of applications, many of which we probably haven’t even discovered yet.
They often say that an innovation’s best uses are discovered accidentally. One can only imagine where this implication will lead us in the decades ahead. Whether you’re spearheading an online marketing company or are simply looking to find out what the best ergonomic chair is, social media presents nothing less than a matrix of possibilities. But it’s about more than simply marketing, advertising, and commercial innovation. Social media promises to revolutionize the nature of democracy itself. Here are the top ways we can expect social media to change the world:
Social media will democratize and decentralize traditional media. As we have seen with the recent social revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, social media sites like Twitter have the power to subvert fascist governments by circuitously bisecting their media controls. Because of the decentralized nature of the Internet, it’s virtually impossible to completely cut a population off from social media and this makes it very difficult to suppress the spread of information.
This leads to citizen journalism and the highest form of democratized media. Anyone with a smartphone can document news, upload it to the web and distribute it to the world through social media. We’re no longer dependent on network news.
Social media will make information universal. Anyone in the world now has access to the totality of human knowledge. If this sounds hyperbolic, just imagine how likely it was for a kid in a third world country to read classic literature a decade ago.
Now, education is becoming a global right for all people and social media makes it easier for both children and adults to communicate with each other and learn about the world at large.
Social media will facilitate innovation. Because the spread of information will become so rapid and unhindered, innovators and entrepreneurs across the world will be free to network, share open sources, and collaborate. Social media makes the entire world a workshop for the tools of tomorrow.
Many of the world’s greatest inventions were born by accident. The Internet itself was an unintended discovery made by the Pentagon while developing military satellite technology. Now we see the rise of web tools like social media applications and their potential to transform the world around us in truly groundbreaking ways. The phrase “tomorrow never knows” resounds mightily.