At the start of the year Rupert Murdoch surprised many by opening an account on Twitter. Why did he do that when he was so dismissive of the role of the Internet in the production of content, reducing the public chatter to the “noise” level? Regardless of his motives, this fact alone is a strong signal that social media will increase in significance and we are in for a big change.
When I checked his Twitter status first time he already had over 14,000 followers. Today he had over 120,000 while he has produced over 48 tweets in less than two weeks. Rupert Murdoch must feel the power of social connectivity, and he must wonder where all this connectedness is taking us to in the near future.
The tweets are decent and he handles the rejections and the insults professionally; his many years of tough experience in the very competitive business of media have made him immune to all kinds of attacks.
Maybe the huge “faux pas” his son made in UK gave him a scare. The public reaction and the backlash by the British political institutions were severe. He could have lost the entire empire, if not he has already lost it in the sense that the credibility or the respect imposed by fear inspired by the sheer power of his corporation diminished considerably. Twitter is a way of making out with the public.
Maybe amidst of all this he saw that News Corporation started to lose its height in stature and become small compared with the news produced by the public and consumed by the public.
A year ago he announced plans to charge for content. We don’t know exactly how that is going at the moment, but what we know is that people get the uncensored news from other people much faster. When an earthquake occurs, the global social networks nervous system reacts far faster than any professional news outlet. If you want pictures, you go to Facebook or Flickr to see them, as you know real witnesses have already posted fresh information almost instantaneously. Meanwhile, the professional media is begging viewers to send photos and videos to them as part of their content.
In one of his latest tweets, Rupert Murdoch says “Consumer electronics show this week. Expect to see amazing new tech developments like last year. Will upend, improve delivery, not content” (in reference to CES Las Vegas 2012). Somehow, he is still sceptical about the role of the technology in the creation of content. He does not see the impact on the cognitive level of people and how that stimulates the creativity of content by offering better media production tools and lowering the publication costs to nil.
He says later, “Second thoughts! Content does remain king, but new tech will help improve much, especially education”, but you could see the scepticism is still there.
Well, the evolution of the global social network is exponential, so we should see what happens in one year. In the televised debate “Intelligence 2” on Bloomberg, on the question of should the traditional media disappear (be given good riddance), the public was swayed even more against the idea that the traditional media is still relevant.
More power to the participatory Public!