I had a new experience yesterday that helped me understand the “social” in social media a little better. I use Facebook to maintain with far-distant friends and to get back in touch. So, contrary to today’s teens who chat with each other online, I am more likely to talk to my current, nearby friends on the phone and in person and to use Facebook to interact with people who are not in my immediate circle.
But yesterday, I used it to attend the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States.Carried out in partnership between CNN and Facebook, this virtual event was pretty interesting and served my purposes well since I have neither cable nor satellite and wanted to see the event in its original language. The webcast, on the left side of the screen, was surprisingly light on journalistic banter (hats off to CNN for their restraint). The stream of Facebook status updates was on the right side. You could choose either to see the status updates of everybody “attending” or just your friends. So there really was a global conversation going on throughout the event.
It was fascinating to see the reactions. For example, I was interested to see how many people noticed, like me, that the outgoing president was announced as “George WALKER Bush” and the incoming one as “Barack H. Obama” (which one person called a “creepy compromise”). But I have to admit that most of the time I was only viewing my real friends’ reactions because it was too hard to read the global thread. They were registering about 3000 comments from all over the world every minute during the height of the celebration.
The technology did pretty well too, despite the high-level of participation.
I was able to enjoy the inauguration live and participate in a truly global conversation about it at the same time. And that’s what social media is supposed to be all about. And it gave me a new way to engage with the democratic process. I am not sure I ever watched an inauguration before, but with the Facebook president, it was easy and interesting.