Over the past two months I, along with the rest of the world, watched the events unfold in Tunisia and Egypt which resulted in the toppling of decades old repressive regimes. Then the outbreak for freedom spread to other countries in the Middle East and Libya , and is even trying to gain a toe hold in China. Governments can shut down the internet for a time, but eventually people will figure a way around the firewall. I thought about the part social media played in these events and the discussions in mainstream media about what social media has done in these countries to fuel the protests.
Social media and the technology behind it are not inherently good or bad and do not have any power on their own to do anything. The technology is just another means of communicating. What Social Media has done is enable the world to connect and communicate in ways, and at a speed and distance, never before seen in human history. And right now it is in it's infancy.
As a student of social media and how it might be used in business and private aviation to change the ways we do business for the positive, I have been met with skepticism as I talk and write about it.
Questions and Comments include:
- Nobody on Facebook will book a charter flight or buy an aircraft
- The affluent (our current clients) don't use Social Media
- Social Media is some kind of fad and won't last
- Those who use Facebook only communicate silly chatter about what they had for breakfast and where they went the night before
- I don't want anything to do with this social media stuff, it is a waste of time
- How do you monetize this stuff and what is your ROI?
Back to Egypt and Tunisia:
History will show that the power of the people to communicate with each other was the undoing of repression. The worry now is that another repressive regime will fill the void as so often has happened in Africa. Somehow this time, I don't believe the people will allow that to happen. Now that the people have won, who in Egypt or Tunisia will be able to lead the country and not allow the people to communicate online? Another demonstration can happen in an instant. Once freed, people will not go back willingly to being repressed.
So if the power of this communication on steroids called Social Media can topple governments, does its use also have the potential to open up markets and change the way people buy goods and services? I think the answer is that it's already happening. And it will pick up speed just as the development of the technology has picked up speed.
People, given the tools to communicate unfiltered across borders, culture, and any other boundaries, will drive solutions to market problems that have been begging to be solved.
The air transportation system in this country has major efficiency problems that cannot be solved by the government or the airlines overnight. Our government can't even agree on a funding solution to update the 1960's generation air traffic control system, much less solve a market problem.
So if the government can't solve the problem of inefficient air travel who can? How about we the people, through communication which creates new knowledge and creates innovation and brings new solutions.