May 13

Social Media Changes Nothing. YOU Change It

I was on a panel with Scoble once where he matter-of-factly declared that anyone who eventually does not use social media will become irrelevant in future generations.

God. I hope not.

There is a certain amount of optimism among social media “evangelists” that this medium can change the world. Mediums don’t change anything–people do.

You can use a medium to help someone find a job or you can use it to spread horrible lies about people. It’s a tool. Social media is a tool like a cell phone is a tool. If you spend your time talking about that tool or about iPhone apps or traffic, you aren’t really changing anything. Which means the church group who got together to clean up Austin ghettos or run a soup kitchen did a whole lot more than you did with lesser technology. Is Adela Ben-Yakar, a pioneer in nanosurgery that would essentially treat disease in a non-invasive manner, somehow irrelevant because she doesn’t have time to Twitter? If you produce a brilliant film or product, and SOMEONE got light of it via a blog or network of some stripe, would it matter if you used social media? This is a ridiculous notion that I hope no one else holds.

Change comes about because someone feels compelled enough about a problem to do something about it. You can be a highly documented irrelevant person or a non-documented person who is highly relevant. Or you can be a balance of both.

Where is this post coming from? Because “through the wisdom of social media crowds”, apparently finding wifi is more important to Austin geeks voting on OpenAustin than keeping people safe or getting clean air. Something tells me that kind of change isn’t one worth pursuing.

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  • Steve Golab

    Michelle, I was completely following you until I got down to the last paragraph. I'm not sure those geeks actually think wifi is more important than keeping pople safe or getting clean air. I think those are just functions they would like from the City's website. If you (or others) have other ideas how the COA website could be usedd to address issues that are important to you, I think the openAustin website is a great place for you to voice that opinion. I assume that you can appreciate the spirit of the site. As you say, though, its just a tool. Ultimately, the fundamental barrier to change starts within people and through their choices.

  • Zoujiaofang