Did Clay Shirky predict the future in his 2009 TedEd talk How Social Media Can Make History? As Connecticut enters week 10 of quarantine in response to COVID19, social media has become the foundation of social distancing. Shirky foresaw "Now that media is increasing social innovation can happen anywhere that people can take for granted the idea that we are all in this together”. That idea has morphed into a motto “we are all in this together” that can be heard and see daily as a rallying point in response to the global pandemic.
And just like that, we’re all using Zoom together. The video conferencing service has become vital social media for millions of users seemingly overnight. Once firmly a tool for hosting remote business meetings, Zoom is now connecting self-isolated individuals and groups.
When we think about social media Zoom may not be the first social platform we think of, it’s easy to consider Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube. With closer analysis Zoom fits Shirky’s model "The internet is the first medium in history that has native support for groups and conversation at the same time." Zoom is being used by businesses for meetings, by grade school teachers and college professors, by families to keep in touch and by teenagers who want to hang out with their friends. They call themselves ‘Zoomers’ and, for many, it’s replacing the likes of Facebook and Twitter which are practically dinosaurs in the social media world.
Over the last decade social media has changed the way businesses and individuals convene and communicate. Making the best use of social and creating “environment” has been the focus of activists and communications professionals. Back in 2009 Shirky saw the internet itself as the carriage for all other media. Certainly in 2020 every medium is right next door to every other medium, however, I see a shift with the adoption of Zoom. The shift moves towards every medium being accessible and available within every other medium. Zoom is the environment.
Think of the use cases for Zoom as an environment where all mediums coexist. A professor can show a TedEd talk of Clay Shirky within Zoom, students can Tweet about the experience directly from the Zoom app, credit for the class will be sent to LinkedIn as a digital credential automatically. How about a Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu viewing parties on Zoom? Imagine watching your favorite shows with your friends within one platform (environment).
Social media creates an opportunity for us to simultaneously be producers and consumers of content. For a few years now I’ve viewed my role to be both the collector and connector of “dots”. Those dots represent the content being produced by cybersecurity and privacy professionals, using social media (LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube) I’ve been able to collect the content and connect it with a community that is interested in learning, planning and doing cybersecurity.
Social media continues to evolve, 2020 has shown us the potential for conversation, place, and community to exist in a socially distant way. Social innovation is being accelerated by COVID-19, new use cases and applications will be born from this pandemic. Ironically, we’ve used social media applications in isolation up until this point, jumping from Twitter to LinkedIn to YouTube – while we are all in this together are social media use remains isolated. I can’t be the only one with twenty tabs open in my browser. Each platform is used individually and not integrated into a larger environment.
Zoom has filled a void, the void of physically being together. What a great example of innovation
happening anywhere people take for granted the idea that we are all in this together. Will Zoom become a dinosaur like Myspace and Tumblr or will it be the foundation of a new era of social media as an environment (place) where all mediums are not neighbors but roommates?
Let me know your thoughts, leave a comment, or send me an email. How we learn, plan, and do is constantly changing. I believe that collecting and connecting the “dots” is more important than ever. “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller