Social Media – Tomorrow Never Knows?

Innovation and Social Media (pic from Flickr user 'oddsock')

Innovation and Social Media (pic from Flickr user 'oddsock')

Listening to ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ by The Beatles never fails to astound me. It a song that is drenched, almost to the point of saturation, with innovation. Not only does it feature a reversed guitar solo, but also, for the first time ever, the vocals are put through a Leslie Cabinet Speaker to generate a haunting vibrato effect. These techniques work to create an unsettling yet mesmerising three-minute, drug-fuelled journey. The power of the track to shock the listener out of their comfort zone is enhanced by its position at the end of an album largely composed of shorter, happier pop songs. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to those hearing this for the first time in 1966; it still sounds way ahead of its time and I doubt that time will ever catch it up.

The theme I want to pick up on here is innovation. The Beatles were masters of it and, along with Bob Dylan, did much to set the blueprint for popular music that endures to this day. Have a listen to the Beatles’ song ‘Rain’. It exposes one myth and confirms another: Ringo could actually drum, and Oasis really do owe much to the Beatles. John Lennon’s drawling vocals are a clear precursor to those of Liam Gallagher, and you could probably write a couple of Oasis songs using the lyrics sung on this track alone.

Innovation can also be a frightening prospect, and popular music again offers a prime example. Many Dylan fans apparently recoiled in horror upon hearing his set at Newport in 1965, when he plugged in a guitar and began to distort the acoustic folk songs to which they were accustomed. However, I would put money on it that by now the same people have long since embraced his act of electric rebellion, and here is where the message of this post can be revealed.

What will happen tomorrow can never be known in journalism, and this is true both in terms of the news and the industry itself. Journalists can be prepared though, and I believe that embracing new forms of social media is an essential part of this preparation. I will freely admit that I have not long been acquainted with tools such as Twitter and Flickr, but I can see why they will be essential components of any journalistic armoury in the future. Even if these particular sites fall, others will rise to take their place. The key point is that modern hacks are aware of, and adaptable to, the prevailing winds of change in social media and how news can be sourced and communicated.

It is said that some of the crowd clapped and some booed Dylan when he gave his first electric performance over forty years ago. There is potentially much to gain if we applaud and embrace the opportunities afforded to us by social media, and so there may be a lot to lose if we jeer at and retreat from them. Change is not to be feared, and it could be a distinct professional advantage to stay with the leading pack in the innovation game.

Changes certainly never did this man any harm:

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~ by seanbradbury on November 2, 2008.

One Response to “Social Media – Tomorrow Never Knows?”

  1. Some really good points in here Sean. It is dangerous to believe a form is finished, or that technology can solve all problems.

    But your attitude is a good one, and I think the right one in these times.

    Try working with the different tools, and how they can plug into your blog to start developing a new media toolkit which you can use to your own advantage.

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