How did the word get out for Tunisians to initiate large-scale protests? Social networks; though not necessarily all technology-mediated. The same happened in Egypt. If social media were not a threat, it is unlikely the government would have shut down almost all web access. Jeremy Littau says the Egyptian uprising “movement is mass, decentralized, and social. Sound like anything we know?” It’s also very human.
China is blocking searches on Twitter related to Egypt, as it too fears the power of social networks. Social networks, and the learning that happens as a result, are a threat to all hierarchical structures. Social networks accelerate the spread of new ideas and lay bare systemic injustices. This is powerful stuff and it scares people. Anyone in a position of power and authority is losing some of that due to the growing power of social networks – doctors, teachers, managers, politicians, etc. Seb Paquet calls it “ridiculously easy group-forming”. Hugh Macleod says that the network is more powerful than the node.
Social networks speed access to knowledge and accelerate learning. An Egyptian blogger, Ma3t, learned via social media this week:
They hit us bad. They shot tear gas at us, I saw ppl running and screaming, and all i can remember is the tweeted instructions ” Do not rub ur eyes” I tried, I really tried, but my eyes were on fire, I didn’t rub them though but ended up walking blindly into a wall.
It’s all social as we become more connected and observe the emerging network effects. The year 2011 will be interesting and 2012 will be even more interesting. Hang on.