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.


  1. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

    I think that things are getting seriously cool, these days.

    Propaganda is surely in decline. This whole social media and mass collaboration thing is starting to look like a turning point in human development to me. I really think that we are doing the right thing this time and there isn’t a lot of danger and unforeseen (negative) ramifications.

    In addition to too many voices there is the aspect of it being totally organic. I think that evolution is a good reference point to observe and understand social media from.

    I kind of wrote about this yesterday on my blog in regard to Shell’s Eureka infomercial.

    No podcast available for this interview?

    I checked Wikipedia page on Sook Yin Lee. Does ‘intercourse’ really need a link on it? LOL.

  2. Hey Charlie – thanks for your comment, and no, it doesn’t look like the CBC does anything but stream their shows realtime. I’m betting storage issues have a lot to do with that.

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