Ijust came across this Ted Talk by James Surowiecki on the way in which social media attained the same relevance as traditional media as a source of up-to-date, accurate news. Using the 2005 Asian Tsunami as his example, he claims that blog posts that included videos shot on mobile phones were viewed on the Web by millions of people much quicker than mainstream media was able to broadcast details.

This point of course is already well known, and contrasts strongly with another debate I recently heard on the BBC about the relevance of Social Media.  Andrew Keen noted that with the plethora of blogs and social media available, it is much harder to get trusted and accurate information. This is especially more pronounced as people are able to publish as much material as they want for free.

I guess Surowiecki and Keen aren’t adding anything new to the debate, but it is interesting to know that we’re still at the point where the relevance of the information available in social and conversational media is questioned. Face it, there is a lot of information out there and in order to fully understand the debate one is going to have to read a lot of different viewpoints to arrive at anything close to resembling the truth. Traditional media outlets are still coming to terms on how best to deal with contemporay news generation and consumption. I’m therefore more inclined to side with Surowiecki’s position that information on blogs and other social media gives us as readers a much closer and immediate appreciation of a given situation and places the power of choice back in the hands of individual users and away from traditional media conglomerates.

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