Three little words and a question mark:
“The MT curse?”
This was the tweet John Henry, the owner of the Red Sox, sent out last week after the Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees. He was referring to the Yankees’ $180 million dollar, off-season acquisition, Mark Teixeira. An irritated Teixeira responded (according to USA Today):
“I laughed. It’s just silly. It really is. We talked to probably 10 or 12 teams this offseason. If 11 owners want to take their shots at me, that’s fine. They can say whatever they want. but there’s no reason for me to, you know, get into any war of words with a 70-some-year-old man. it doesn’t make any sense.”
For the record, Henry is 59 years old. Henry’s tweet started a fire storm on sports networks, radio stations and in the newspapers and brought the Sox vs. Yankees rivalry to a fever pitch.
The tweet was covered by every major sports outlet – and picked up by more than 2,300 outlets around the world. But after the initial coverage of Henry’s tweet the sports world, the tweet did something else. It shifted the sports coverage. Sports radio stations and newspapers began to explore the the importance of chemistry (which the Red Sox have) vs. having a team loaded with expensive super stars (the Yankees).
All of this over three little words.
This is an example of the power of social media – and the power of an idea, a suggestion (or in Henry’s case a mild bit of teasing) when shared on the web. It can go viral – fast – and it can capture attention.
We are seeing this awesome power on a more global scale in Iran – when protesters hit the streets enraged by alleged election fraud by the hardline government. As the government cracks down on mass communications, protesters are using Twitter to communicate with each other and with the outside world about what is happening during the country wide lock-out. The U.S. government even asked Twitter to postpone a scheduled maintenance update so as not to disrupt service during the Iranian upheaval.
Lev Grossman of TIME gets it all wrong when he complains about Twitter as a toy and says: “It is either sublime or ridiculous that one of the most important tools available to Iranians protesting the June 12 presidential election is Twitter.”
Where has Lev been?
Twitter isn’t a toy. It never has been. It’s a powerful mode of communication – a platform like no other for instant information. It is CNET’s Caroline McCarthy that drops the real bombshell:
“Therein lies the uneasy truth: In a major international crisis, one of the prime channels of communication and news for individuals, media outlets, and governments alike is a 2-year-old start-up in San Francisco with 50 employees, no discernible business model, a history of technical instability, and a misinformation-related lawsuit on the table.”
This is how drastically the social web has changed everything. It’s not just Twitter – it is all of the communication vehicles now available on the web – from blogging and Facebook to Flickr and Digg.com. While McCarthy asks probing questions about Twitter and the huge responsiblity it shoulders, it is almost besides the point. Twitter really isn’t that important in the grand scheme of the web.
But web communications – engaging, sharing and broadcasting – will continue to explode with or without Twitter and all of the other platforms (because if they don’t emerge as winners – something else will). From baseball in the United States to massive civil rights protests in Iran – the way we communicate and share information will never be the same.
Are you ready?