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Human Potential in the Age of Exponential Tech

This is the second part of a series on social media by digital strategist, author, and speaker Rahaf Harfoush. Check out Part 1 The Evolution of the Web Persona Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Tumblr, Pinterest, FourSquare, Google+, and are just some of

It is evident that the role of social media and digital communications play a critical role in sharing information during environmental disasters or times of political unrest. These tools help spread information, share news and level the playing field in a way that (at least for now) traditional governments can't seem to stop, and not for lack of trying. Using social media sites to organize and mobilize groups of people is nothing new. What I am finding particularly intriguing as I watch the Iranian Election crisis unfold, is how some of these social networks are making decisions as corporate entities that are evolving their roles from neutral platforms to powerful players within a new digital narrative. It's no longer about USERS leveraging a site's features, but organizational decisions which are adding a new variable to social media's role in impacting global change. For the first time, tech companies like Twitter, Facebook & Google are taking direct action in response to an unfolding crisis and are having a big impact. I'm trying to puzzle out the corporate agendas behind these acts as well as thinking of the implications that these decisions will have on driving the development of governmental IT policies and the creation of emerging digital rights legislation. 1) Twitter Reschedules Maintenance after US Government Appeal The US State Department asked Twitter to reschedule its maintenance in order to keep the service available to Iranians so they could continue to share up to the second reports of the unfolding situation. A CNN blog post reported that US Government officials are pushing to ensure that they (and the rest of the world) continue to receive as much information as possible from social networking and content sharing sites. With this request coming from the US Government, it is clear that social media channels are being monitored by the Obama administration which has no diplomatic relationship with Iran. The content they are receiving through Twitter, Facebook and Youtube is an invaluable source of information. Twitter made the corporate decision to change their maintenance date to provide the Iranian people the opportunity to share information at a critical juncture. On to Facebook & Google

The randomness of  viral videos fascinates me. I'm always surprised at how certain clips  seem to capture the public's fancy and  quickly take off, amassing millions of views. What's really interesting is the set of responses that have been created when a video takes off. The latest one to hit my inbox is the clip called David after the dentist, a seven year old's funny reaction to being medicated after a dental procedure.  At the time of this post it has already generated 7 million views! Here's the video if you haven't seen it:

Funny right? I love the part where he asks "Is this real life?" Poor little guy. Let's take a look now at the different ways that people interact with this video. I've categorized them into a framework that I'm testing that I'm calling the 5 Rs: Reposting, Remixing, Re-enacting, Reacting and Reinventing. You don't need to watch every video all the way through, but it's interesting to get a taste of the different types of ways that people interpreted and played with this content.

1) Reposting

The easiest and most passive way for people to engage with this content is to simply repost a copy of the video on their own channel. This differs from embedding or linking the original video because it represents the desire for someone to create a carbon copy and pass that around. There are several copies of this video available already.  People could do this for several reasons: to jump on a hot topic and increase their channel views, or because they like the video so much that they want to "own" it and push it out from their channel. Either way it adds to the viral-ness of the content.