domingo, 19 de febrero de 2012

Rumor Has It

First of all I should state that I write in Spanish, but today I decided to write this entry in English as a way to practice my (supposedly) second language. That said, excuse my excelent english (for a spanish native speaker, that is).

Internet becomes social.

The first known use of the word social media was on 2004 (the year of Facebook's foundation). Since then, the connections (between people, web sites, and contents in Internet) have gotten larger and deeper. That has made some persons to say that the "Internet is becoming social".

The world in the palm of your hand 140 characters?

Particularly since the last year revolutions in the Middle East a lot of atention has been drift to so-called social networks and social media. The reason is simple: the mass movilizations of people, aparently coordinated using those tools, [1] that propitiated (if not caused) the fall of autoritarian governments (Egypt, Tunisia, Libya).

Some web sites for microblogging (such as Twitter) and social networking existed some years before the Middle East uprisings of 2011.  However, and though the use of those websites had been increasingly common, their fame wasn't as much before as after the Middle East revolutions.

The main reasons for the importance of social media during the Arab Spring probably has to do with the posibility that social media brings to reach a broader audience and the relatively easy access that people has to these tools. However this also means that a lot of people (and not just serious, responsible, and reasonable) has access to a bigger audience and a tighter conection.

So apparently anyone with access to Internet has now the posibility to know and stay informed about everything happening around the world. This may not be so true for many reasons.

Are you sure of what you think you know?

How do we know that what we read on some tweet its true? Are we certain that those assertions stated on that Youtube video are trustworthy? We may, or may not, think about it; but we all know (or should know) that we cannot trust on everything we read, hear and see on the Internet. But we can't take all the time that would require to check up on all the information we're getting nowadays to see if it's true or reliable information.

We must be careful to avoid the easy and confortable attitude of accepting everything passively and without critical thinking. We must not belive in everything we see, because if we do, we are easily manipulable.

Then, social media can be a powerful tool to get and share information more rapidly. But if we don't use these tool smartly it can be deceiving and produce in us the idea of being well informed, while we are actually just confirming our possibly erroneus beliefs or trusting in nothing more than just rumors.

1. For more on this you may read Clay Shirky, "The Political Power of Social Media", Foreign Affairs, num. 1, vol. 90, pp. 28-41.

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