Does the internet make you smarter? How can social media help make history? These are just a couple of questions that Clay Shirky attempts to address with regards to technology, more specifically new technology. As a social media theorist, his work focuses primarily on how new technology, such as social media applications and programs, is changing the way society operates. He believes in the increasing value of these technologies in facilitating collaboration among society. For instance, in the “How Social Media Can Make History” TED talk, he describes how Twitter and Facebook are slowly emerging as outlets to report news as they happen. He specifically described a recent event in which China experienced an earthquake, prompting its citizens to text, tweet, and update their statuses about the earthquake as it was occurring. In fact, the Chinese news stations hadn’t even officially reported anything until they saw all the tweets about it on Twitter, demonstrating just how omnipresent social media is in this day and age.

As a college student, it would be hard to deny that social media isn’t significant in our lives. I know that I check my Facebook and Twitter several times a day. In fact, as I was typing this blog, I’m sure I’ve checked it at least ten times. Therefore, I feel as if Shirky would be a very dynamic speaker if he came to Bucknell because his theories are something with which we can relate, especially with regards to the “Bucknell Bubble.” As embarrassing as it is to admit, since I’ve been trapped in the “Bucknell Bubble,” now I find out about a lot of substantial world events through what is trending worldwide on Twitter, as opposed to watching the news. Shirky addresses this emerging phenomenon and more, including the unlimited potentials of social media. Since these “decentralized technologies” are probably not becoming obsolete anytime soon, it would be interesting to hear Shirky’s theories on the emergence of social media and its economic, social, and political implications.

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8 responses »

  1. smz006 says:

    Clay Shirky sounds like a very interesting person, who would provide a great perspective on technology. Of all the new technologies, social media could potentially have the greatest impact on society and business practices. The world is becoming more and more connected everyday and social media is leading the way. Unlike the past, today one can almost instantly learn not only what their friends are doing at a certain moment but also what is happening millions of miles away in a foreign country. However this new instant way of life also brings up issues of privacy and people sharing too much information. I think it would be fascinating to get Mr. Shirky’s opinion on the negative side of social media and how social media could potentially take information too far.

    • Connie says:

      I agree with you; I would definitely like to hear Shirky’s thoughts on the negative impact social media can have on society. For the most part, he is a strong proponent of the increasing usefulness of social media in various sectors, such as business, science, and the arts. However, it’d be very interesting to explore the other side of social media, like the over-sharing or privacy issues that arise with these technologies, as you’ve stated. I want to know where he would draw the line in the utilization of social media. In other words, what kind of impact would these new technologies have on business, science, and the arts? It’s something that I believe needs to be addressed soon with the rapid growth and prevalence of these technologies.

      • jmg051 says:

        I agree that hearing his views on the negative side of social media would be really interesting. There was an incident a few weeks ago where a prominent high school football player, and an elite recruit, was kicked out of school for posting a series of vulgar tweets. The world is so inter-connected now, and I don’t think most people realize how public what they say is. I’d be interested to hear his thoughts on this, and more generally his thoughts on how we as a society can – or if we should – curtail the use of social media in certain settings. Facebook, Twitter, etc. have so many benefits that it’s easy to lose sight of the potential dangers, and I think that Shirky would have a better grasp on those dangers than anyone.

  2. kas054 says:

    I believe that Clay Shirky would be an interesting and relatable speaker because social media plays a prominent role in our generation’s lives. Social media not only is a great way to communicate with our friends and colleagues (some say that we know TOO much about each other), but it has increased its role in the worlds of business, politics, and news reporting.

    Personally, I would love to hear Shirky’s opinion on how social media accelerated the 2011 uprisings in Egypt. Social media helped coordinate and spread the word about demonstrations within the city, leading to a larger number of protestors that Egyptian authorities could not control. This event was life-changing because it demonstrated the true power and influence of social media, just like Shirky’s example of the earthquake in China.

    Since the majority of people at Bucknell use some form of social media, I believe that Shirky would provide great insight into the potential and unintended consequences of social media and spark great discussion among our community.

  3. hannahglos says:

    Of all of the speakers mentioned so far, I think that Shirky would draw the biggest crowd of Bucknell students. Its no secret that our generation is obsessed and constantly attached to technology that allows us to check our facebook, twitter, pinterest, etc. as many times per day as possible, so hearing someome speak about the things that we used everyday would naturally attract a lot of college students. Many students only attend speakers because they are required to for a class, but I think that students would actually be interested and willingly listen to someome speaking solely about facebook and twitter.

  4. cherylngn says:

    I definitely agree that Clay Shirky would deliver a very remarkable and interesting speech to Bucknell students, especially when social media is a more relatable aspect of technology. It is impossible to deny the impact that social media has been having on various areas of today’s world such as politics, entertainment, business and news reporting. In fact, aside from all the positive and negative sides of social media, I would also like to hear his thoughts on the government’s policy of banning Facebook in several Asian countries, including China. What might be the government’s intention, or based on what reason does the policy arise? Why does it only happen in those countries? I believe Shirky’s insights and knowledge will bring about really good discussions among Bucknell students.

  5. pbm043 says:

    I would love to see Shirky speak in a Bucknell forum, even if only for the Q&A section. Ideally, I would like to hear Shirky address the question about the benefits of such a social media site outweighing the costs. Sure, it might be a convenient way to ‘report’ news (if you think its reliable). But how many garbage posts are there for every informative post? And specifically in America, what about all of the problems it causes by turning peoples private lives into public affairs? There are numerous accounts of public forums causing significant financial and legal problems for athletes, celebrities, political figures, etc. Personally, I hate the fact that my generation has turned into a tech-savvy, but what I consider to be a socially incompetent group. While I applaud Twitter for its success as a business, I would rather such a thing not exist.

  6. […] could be responsible for the formation of these tightly-clustered online communities. Since Clay Shirky has a keen interest in the prevalence of social media in our generation, I think it would be really […]

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