How Can Social Media Make History?

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Power Of Crowds.

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About Clay Shirky's TEDTalk

The history of the modern world could read as a history of ways of arguing, social media guru Clay Shirky says. During the Arab Spring, for example, we saw protesters battle their governments' top-down control of news with Facebook, Twitter and text messaging.

As media evolve, Shirky asks, what sort of arguments will we have — and how will it change the governments of nations?

"Historically, we have overestimated the value of access to information, and we have always underestimated the value of access to each other." — Clay Shirky i i

"Historically, we have overestimated the value of access to information, and we have always underestimated the value of access to each other." — Clay Shirky Michael Femia/TED hide caption

itoggle caption Michael Femia/TED
"Historically, we have overestimated the value of access to information, and we have always underestimated the value of access to each other." — Clay Shirky

"Historically, we have overestimated the value of access to information, and we have always underestimated the value of access to each other." — Clay Shirky

Michael Femia/TED

About Clay Shirky

Clay Shirky is an adjunct professor in New York Universityʼs graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program, where he teaches a course named Social Weather. He's the author of several books, including his most recent, Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumers into Collaborators.

Shirky's work focuses on the rise of networks and the use of decentralized technologies for social creation and open-source development. "A group is its own worst enemy," he says; new technologies can enable cooperative structures as alternatives to centralized and institutional structures.

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