Does social media make crime detectives like Sherlock Holmes obsolete?

I have been enjoying watching the BBC production of a modern Sherlock Holmes

In these episodes, Sherlock uses a cell phone and texts all the villains. And Dr. John Watson writes a blog about their exploits. Watching the series has started me wondering if really, in today’s society, with big-data analysis and social meida – is a genius like Sherlock still valuable?

In Victorian times – when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle introduced Sherlock – having a genius with powers of observation was a great thing. Now, if , for example you need to  track down a kidnapper who has chalk dust, brick and  chocolate on his shoes, people on the Twitterverse and Facebook might just be able to help you find what you need. There are already many others speculating the same thing. For example, here’s an article about how a town in Texas is leveraging Twitter to fight crime:

As a lover of, and believer in, social media, I’d like to propose that yes, indeed, Social media makes a genius-hero like Sherlock obsolete. In the grass-roots world of solivng crimes, maybe it does.  But maybe  in doing that. we do away with THE HERO – we have “the society/the group/ the Collectiv” who solves crimes, which is great, but… we no longer have a hero. (more on heroes here )

…and as long as our human psyche craves having heroes – individuals – then brilliant misfit detectives like the Sherlock Holmes character will be popular.


  1. #1 by Thomas Duff on June 13, 2012 - 20:53

    Interesting angle, and had never considered that…

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