Editorial 

Social media - no longer a gimmick

"Twitter represents a collective collaboration that manifests our ability to unconsciously connect kindred voices through the experiences that move us. As such, Twitter is a human seismograph." - Brian Solis, Principal of FutureWorks

"Twitter is a great place to tell the world what you're thinking before you've had a chance to think about it." - Chris Pirillo, blogger

None of us should have been surprised by the incredible response to the story of the sled dog deaths on social networks.

And yet many of us were.

Perhaps it wasn't the use of the medium as much as it was the incredible reach of the information to all parts of the world, and then in response, the comments back that caught us off guard.

It didn't help that so many of them were vitriolic and anonymous. Whistler was tried and convicted before all the facts were even established.

It's easy to lash out using a keyboard as weapon. Thankfully in today's world digital fingerprints and trails can be followed so the anonymous nature of networking is changing.

Somehow the use of Facebook, Twitter and cell phones work when it is helping to overthrow governments far away as it has done recently in Tunisia and Egypt.

Said Brad Shimmin, principal analyst with Current Analysis recently on the Egyptian uprising: "I certainly do not think (President Hosni Mubarak) would have left office at this point if it wasn't for social networking tools."

Egyptian activists didn't simply look for people to "like" their protest pages or to give people a venue to express their frustrations. They used social networking sites to encourage them into action, not just online but in the real world.

Now the pattern might be repeating in Algeria and elsewhere.

We saw the same thing happen with the sled dog death story - though on a much more modest scale.

A Facebook site created to call for a boycott of the adventure company whose employee allegedly killed the dogs grew from a few hundred when the story broke Jan. 31 to over 50,000 this week.

Using Facebook and Twitter, marches were organized in support of changing animal cruelty laws or just in support of dogs. They were held in B.C., across Canada and even in Italy's famous Colosseum long known for its cruel treatment of lions used as executioners of Christians and others who offended the Empire.

The first-ever doggie tweetup was held in West Vancouver Feb. 6. It was organized solely online using the hashtag #BarkingMad and drew a few hundred people.

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