Six years ago I was a fresh college graduate just getting started in the online marketing world. The average person didn’t know what a blog was, Facebook was restricted to university students in the U.S., and Twitter had yet to be invented. And the web was just starting to be respected and understood by mainstream marketing firms and teams.

Today, bloggers appear in commercials and social media is a key part of the marketing mix for brands both large and small. Finally, some respect! That said, I still see companies struggling with the connectivity, the immediacy, and the transparency of the web, and how it is all integrated into their organization. It’s an interesting problem, and one that I’ll continue to write more about on this blog.

Unrelated and relevant only to fellow Chicagoans – my agency is hosting an event at Social Media Week on social engagement and content creation – RSVP! It will be a great chance to gain some expertise, network with your fellow members of the media, and generally have a fabulous time.

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“And I believe that good journalism, good television, can make our world a better place.”

“In emerging democracies like Russia, in authoritarian states like Iran or even Yugoslavia, journalists play a vital role in civil society. In fact, they form the very basis of those new democracies and civil societies.”

– Christiane Amanpour
These two quotes seem particularly apt given recent world events.  And by journalists, I don’t mean just the official press, I mean the courageous citizen journalists like the twitter users who are giving everything they have to make sure the world hears their story and perspective from inside Tehran.

Everyone who doubts the power/usefulness of social media should read Andrew Sullivan’s post, “The Revolution Will Be Twittered“, and then check out the #iranelection hashtag on Twitter.

The key force behind this is the next generation, the Millennials, who elected Obama in America and may oust Ahmadinejad in Iran. They want freedom; they are sick of lies; they enjoy life and know hope.

This generation will determine if the world can avoid the apocalypse that will come if the fear-ridden establishments continue to dominate global politics, motivated by terror, armed with nukes, and playing old but now far too dangerous games. This generation will not bypass existing institutions and methods: look at the record turnout in Iran and the massive mobilization of the young and minority vote in the US. But they will use technology to displace old modes and orders. Maybe this revolt will be crushed. But even if it is, the genie has escaped this Islamist bottle.

I think the days of CNN breaking the news are over – people will share their stories themselves, bypassing the mass media conduit if necessary, and the role of the media will be to verify, organize, track, and curate the information reported via liveblogs, Twitter, etc.  The Huffington Post is doing a great job of that right now with their page on the Iran elections and subsequent fallout.

Check out the winners of Copyblogger’s Twitter Writing Contest – their short (really short – Twitter messages have to be 140 characters or less) stories proved that sometimes creativity flourishes with tight constraints.