I often share the following narrative to demonstrate the power of social media.
I launched my first blog, Tales from a Travelling Broad on the free server Blogger in 2006 to record & share my adventures of teaching abroad in England. I continued blogging when I moved to Toronto, and one of my posts, Just a small-time renegade vigilante (Oct. 8, 2008) caught the attention of a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation journalist, who left a comment on my website, asking me to contact her.
The post contained a letter I had faxed to my bank’s credit card company, demanding a complete refund of seven year’s worth of unauthorised insurance charges. In total, the credit card company refunded the full value to my account, and I landed a supporting role on CBC-TV’s investigative consumer show Marketplace in an exposé on credit balance insurance premiums called Credit Card Catch (Feb 20, 2009).
The clip featured me lifting weights, getting ready to ‘take on’ the bank. I was surprised to find that the experience had a positive impact on my small fitness consulting & bootcamp venture called Lightfooted.
The unintended benefit of my venting online created an opportunity of empowerment for those in the same position; a change to play a role in raising awareness, educating others and perhaps even altering the current status quo.
Sharing this Web 2.0 Story in this fashion (i.e. using embedded hyperlinks in a blog) means it can continue travelling through the Internet. Click on the Credit Card Catch link and you will jump to an embedded video of the Marketplace episode on CBC.ca, where they could read the many comments from citizens, and even leave a comment of their own, thus becoming part of the story. “[S]tories are now open-ended, branching, hyperlinked, cross-media, participatory, exploratory and unpredictable” explain Digital Storytelling researchers Alexander & Levine.
In this sense, the social web isn’t about technology; it’s about connecting with people, empowering people, turning consumers into prosumers. As the American writer Lev Grossman eloquently stated:
[Web 2.0 is] a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes. Person of the Year: You (Times.com, 2006, December 13)