Roots of the revolution

Guillotine_(PSF)In May 2009 I talked to some Otago University students about why social media is important – not just because it’s new technology, but because it’s a symptom and enabler of a massive social shift that’s happening.

Over the next few weeks I’ll delve into the roots of this revolution, but first it would pay to explain what this revolution actually is.

In the book “Dawn to Decadence”, historian Jacques Barzun defines a revolution as “the violent transfer of power and property in the name of an idea”. He goes on:
We have got into the habit of calling too many things revolutions. Given a new device or practice that changes our homely habits, we exclaim: “revolutionary!” But revolutions change more than personal habits or a widespread practice. They give culture a new face

In the book “Dawn to Decadence“, historian Jacques Barzun defines a revolution as “the violent transfer of power and property in the name of an idea”. He goes on:

We have got into the habit of calling too many things revolutions. Given a new device or practice that changes our homely habits, we exclaim: “revolutionary!” But revolutions change more than personal habits or a widespread practice. They give culture a new face.

Is this a time of violent transfer of power and property? Are we in genuinely revolutionary times?

Just ask the newspaper industry. Or the movie industry. Or music, or TV. There’s violence (financially speaking), and there’s transfer of power and property. And not all the news is bad, either.

But is it just technology driving this? No. There are a whole bunch of factors that have brought us where we are today. Starting soon, we’ll examine them in-depth.

8 thoughts on “Roots of the revolution

  • Katherine

    Hi Simon, I'm a new reader to your site and I find it fascinating! Well, isn't the social media age revolutionary? Of course, this change didnt happen overnight, and this change wouldn't have happened without the introduction of the Internet. But, still, it changed the landscape of traditional media altogether.

    It is interesting to read about how people from all over the world perceive social media. I'm from Singapore, and i think the youths here have fully taken it on as our lifestyle. I have to admit, it is difficult to go back to the old days of just emails and instant messengers. It is indeed a revolution!

    Reply
  • Simon Young

    Hi Katherine! Lovely to hear from you in Singapore, and glad to hear your perspective on how social media is revolutionising things for you. How do you see your world as different from your parents' world?

    Reply
  • Katherine

    Hi Simon! It's nice to hear from you, and Happy Chinese New Year! (=

    Well, for one, the concept of the internet is still pretty foreign to my parents (though, they are beginning to pick it up), let alone the concept of Web 2.0 where the internet world is about interactivity.

    I think, some parents are more traditional, so the mindset is a little different from the modern parents, and as such, picking up new concepts is a little difficult as well. Is it the same in New Zealand though? As in, what is the degree of differences in internet usage between younger and older generations?

    Oh, by the way, I went to NZ a few years ago for a backpacking trip and I fell in love with the place. We went around the South Island for 3 weeks. Absolutely stunning! Love the diversity of the scenery (i.e. snow-capped mountains and sunny coasts), the people, the culture.. Oh, of course, and the wines!

    Reply
  • Simon Young

    Interesting! I don't think there's as much of a divide between parents and children here in New Zealand; internet penetration has reached most age groups and services like Trademe (like Ebay but better) have made the internet accessible for people of all ages.

    Social media also seems spread out age-wise. Depending on the data you read, Twitter is actually used by an older crowd in New Zealand, although that hasn't been my personal experience.

    Glad you enjoyed New Zealand! Maybe next time you'll be able to sample the delights of the North Island 🙂

    Reply
  • Keith

    The social change gurus are laughing all the way to the banks!

    Reply
  • Simon Young

    Er, I guess so. Not sure exactly what a social change guru is, though.

    Reply
  • Signs Vhristchurch

    Social media age is nathing new. It has been around since there were people and communities I would think albeit in different forms and levels.

    Reply
  • Simon Young

    It is absolutely something new. There has never been the ability for people to connect, many-to-many, all at the same time.

    Reply

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