October 26th, 2011
05:49 PM GMT
Editor’s note: These are edited highlights of a speech CNN’s Richard Quest gave at Nokia World, October 26.
London (CNN) – It is now almost one hundred years since RMS Titanic hit an iceberg, and sank, on its maiden voyage to New York. Just imagine how the news might break if it was happening now, in the age of the almighty mobile.
The tweets might look something like this:
(11.40pm) @passenger1 OMG! Massive bang onboard Titanic. Think we've hit something.
(11.41pm) @passenger2 Titanic under attack. Sirens and staff running everywhere.
(11.41pm) @boatengineer1 Just seen water surging through lower deck.
All hands on deck sirens blaring.
(11.45pm) @WhiteStarPR RMS Titanic on course for record crossing, says captain. For pics and live updates click http://titan.ic/hubris
And on they would go...
(00.51am) @WhiteHouse President briefed on attack against ship bound for New York. Initial reports suggest Al Qaeda involved.
That's all in the land, or should I say sea, of the 'eternal subjunctive' – how it might have been.
And here's how it actually was on January 15, 2009, when U.S. Airways Flight 1549 took off from La Guardia with 150 passengers and five crew on board, en route Charlotte, North Carolina.
Just three minutes after take-off the Airbus flew into a flock of Canadian geese and three minutes after that, it came down in the Hudson River.
It's been described as the "Miracle of the Hudson" and "the most successful ditching in aviation history."
Not one of the 155 souls on board suffered any serious injuries – and the news was broken by people using their mobile phones.
This is truly is the age of the almighty mobile, and the citizen journalist.
As jkrums put it so neatly in his tweet:
"There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy!"
My own personal first experience of the mobile phone was as a cub reporter, in London, in 1985.
I was given a mobile the size of a small brick and sent off to cover the auction at Christie's of John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls Royce.
I remember phoning my mum, just to tell her I was calling her from a mobile. And I remember, she was excited too – it was such a novelty in those days.
I realised then, from that first experience, the potential power, the new freedom, offered by the mobile phone.
It is changing the world. The Arab Spring has demonstrated the power of mobile telephony as never before. This was the first revolution ever driven by social media.
Brave amateurs on the spot were able to get to places beyond the reach of professional journalists, with however much top quality kit they had with them, however many zillion dollars they had behind them.
These new citizen journalists were tweeting from behind the curtains and courageously posting their reports, on the record, electronically, even though they knew the possible consequences – good and bad.
Perhaps Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson should now be nominated for Nobel Peace Prizes rather than any political leader, however powerful?
So what of the future?
Reports indicate mobile phones already outnumber toothbrushes worldwide and that next year, 2012, there will actually be more mobile phones abroad than there are people to carry them. A billion in India and China. Six billion in the rest of the world – that's the approximate prediction for 2012.
Africa has already jumped a whole generation and the new, developing world will never bother with installing landlines like the Old World always did.
In real terms, the centre of gravity has shifted. The digital revolution is putting power into the hands of the people.