Despite continual moaning that social media has devolved into a tool used for little more than spreading nude pictures of questionably aged Hollywood performers, its most virtuous uses are coming to light.
Locally, Facebook recently turned Buddy Tavares from a victim of alleged police brutality to a rallying point for peaceful political activism against a police force many are seeing fault in.
On a much larger stage, revolution was sparked over bandwidth and delivered into homes across the globe, giving everyone with a computer insight into the struggles of Egyptians.
As we’re all aware today, Egypt’s citizens to the streets last week in protest of their government, unemployment, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Those protests were organized on a Facebook page that had more than 80,000 fans.
Participants continued to organize and communicate through Twitter, using the hashtag “#Jan25” to refer to the event.
As attention grew, the protests materialized from cyber space and became more heated, the government moved to shut off access to social network programs before eventually shutting down access to the Internet completely.
Google responded to the blackout Monday by launching Speak2Tweet, a service that gave Egyptians the option to call an international phone number and tweet via voicemail.
From there, comments about the struggle grew in numbers, giving the world access what would have once amounted to raw news footage, only this time it’s been offered in real time.
It’s been a fascinating and mind boggling turn of events both for the obvious political ramifications, but also for what it’s showing about the best uses of technology that was once feared to be the death knell to traditional media.
Of course, Twitter and Facebook are tools media outlets have been using to the best of their ability for a couple of years already, but they were loath to embrace them initially.
The fear of all online applications seemed to be that the value of the reporter would be undermined when publishing abilities were turned over to the people who are living through the events that are being covered.
By my estimates, however, this week’s events illustrate perfectly the role of a trusted media source.
Certainly, Twitter is giving everyone a voice and there’s no shortage of information being exchanged.
But it takes more than a few sentences to shed light on what’s happening a world away and for those of us who want to really understand, what was once considered stodgy media has really risen to the challenge.
It turns out that the two really can work together in tandem to give the nest worldview possible.
Now all we need to work on is making sure those idiot Hollywood starlets learn how to stop leaking their nudie pictures.
Kathy Michaels is a staff reporter for the Kelowna Capital News.