Monday, March 30, 2009

The Stone age origins of Social Media

These days the wonderful world of Social Media is increasingly taking center stage. And rightly so in my opinion. Social media is the evolution of human communication in motion. We have come from stone age gestures and grunts, to spoken word, through the printing press to broadcast media and the digital world of the internet.

Lets not be blinded by the technologies (which are anyway more and more intuitive and easy to use). Social media represents a moment when we can recapture the fundamentals of communication. That cave art moment when the essence was about engaging with your community, defining identities, capturing the story of our time and reaching out. Social media does all of this and more.

It represents an authentic two-way communication process with all the innovation, excitement and risk that this implies. For humanitarians the writing is on the wall. Take up the tools that social media provides us so we can better advocate; run more successful public health campaigns; twitter vital snippets of information to populations affected by disasters; hold real conversations with communities in need; seek out new audiences and supporters; improve our understanding of the world and its humanitarian challenges (especially as perceived by those actually living with conflict and disaster).

The list is endless and the potential is powerful. And let's not forget, social media has been with us for a mere four years! Facebook has doubled its membership to 200 million in just eight months. Twitter, Flikr, MySpace, Digg and Youtube, to name a few (and blogger of course) are showing staggering growth never seen before. At the top of this post I embed the viral video of the moment which captures some of these questions and marvels at where we are today and at the speed we are traveling. Something to relish I'd wager. I am very interested to hear about your thoughts or experiences of social media in the humanitarian world and any ideas that might be rattling around.



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