I did an interview on Wednesday with Sook Yin Lee for CBC Radio’s Definitely Not the Opera (which aired this past Saturday), and in it I made the analogy that social media is as significant a development as the washing machine. That may sound terribly utilitarian, and not particularly revolutionary. However, the washing machine has been credited with being the technology that dramatically changed the political and social fortunes of women in industrialized western nations, and therefore those western nations themselves. Instead of spending literally days each week washing incredibly complicated clothing by hand, women were freed from this drudgery, and had time to do other things. Like think about how much washing clothes by hand sucks and form the Women’s Liberation Movement.*
In my estimation, the washing machine was a revolutionary piece of technology. Likewise is social media, specifically when it comes to distribution and control of information. Just think about that for a second – unless the Internet breaks or censors vigorously block your access, no one can control the message in a meaningful way any more. There are too many voices.
Could this be the end of the Age of Propaganda?
*This timeline not exactly to scale.