Tuesday 14 Aug 2018 | 20:56 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 14 Aug 2018 | 20:56 | SYDNEY

The social media (r)evolution


Sam Roggeveen


20 October 2009 15:20

A colleague sent me this video, which starts by asking, 'Is social media a fad? Or is it the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution?'

I imagine my reaction was similar to most people's: don't we get a third choice? But hey, the guy (Erik Qualman is his name) is flogging a book, so some hyperbole is to be expected. And the video does throw up some compelling statistics:

It's all a little breathless and lacking in critical distance. On the accompanying blog, for instance, Qualman notes President Obama's recent warning to students about what they post on Facebook:

...when you’re young, you make mistakes and you do some stupid stuff. And I’ve been hearing a lot about young people who – you know, they’re posting stuff on Facebook, and then suddenly they go apply for a job and somebody has done a search.

Qualman regards the President's attention to social media as validation for his project ('our President dedicated some valuable time to social media during a very important speech'). But Obama's warning actually exposes what is potentially quite a sinister aspect of the information age: if your whole life is online, no one can ever forget anything about you. That's a big change, and perhaps a very bad one. We need to think about what it means for how people interact.