Small Change

Why the revolution will not be tweeted.

The world, we are told, is in the midst of a revolution. The new tools of social media have reinvented social activism. With Facebook and Twitter and the like, the traditional relationship between political authority and popular will has been upended, making it easier for the powerless to collaborate, coördinate, and give voice to their concerns... But there is something else at work here, in the outsized enthusiasm for social media. Fifty years after one ... Full Story »

Posted by Donica Mensing - via Rebecca McKinnon, Hiroko Tabuchi, Dave Winer, Memeorandum, New Yorker, Columbia Journalism Review, Jon Mitchell (t), Fabrice Florin (t), Jason Samfield (t), Josh_Young (t), Mark Pegrum (t), Ray Nichols (t), Kaizar Campwala (t), George Moga (t), Joey Baker (t), Donica Mensing (t), mark breslauer (f), Jeremy Caplan (f), Phylora Uppman (f), Joe Bonner (f), Tiffany Hebb (f), Fabrice Florin (f), Tshiung Han See (f), JR Russ (f), Jon Mitchell (f), Jeppe Kabell (f), David K. Miller (f), Gian Antelles (f), Subramanya Sastry (f), Kaizar Campwala (f), James Joaquin (f), David Fox (f), Tobie Openshaw (f), sahajajnana thirthaji (f), Moises Figueroa (f)
Tags Help
Member Tags: social media, activism
Stats Help
# Diggs: 28 (as of 2010-10-01)
Editorial Help
Posted by: Posted by Donica Mensing - Sep 26, 2010 - 10:27 PM PDT
Content Type: Article
Edit Lock: This story can be edited
Edited by: Jon Mitchell - Sep 28, 2010 - 9:39 AM PDT
Jon Mitchell
4.1
by Jon Mitchell - Sep. 28, 2010

Gladwell makes a salient point: activism in the age of social media has dispensed with the close ties of personal connections in favor of the weak ties of abstract fandom. We have more access to information now, but our networks are no longer resilient in the face of actual adversity.

I think there are some chilling implications in this article. Social media have created a compelling illusion of connectivity and common purpose, but in participating, we're actually isolating and separating ourselves in the physical world, where politics actually happens. You can't lean on someone who isn't really there.

See Full Review » (12 answers)
Donica Mensing
4.6
by Donica Mensing - Sep. 28, 2010

This is a thought provoking piece that challenges conventional wisdom about the power of social media. Gladwell chooses his anecdotes and evidence carefully to build a persuasive case. Other anecdotes could tell different stories, which means his perspective might be completely wrong. But his level of detail, arguments and evidence are clearly worth considering carefully.

See Full Review » (11 answers)
Katie Boswell
4.5
by Katie Boswell - Oct. 3, 2010

Beautifully written piece on "Why the revolution will not be tweeted". As usual, Gladwell cuts to the point and transforms our understanding of a phenomenon. In this article, he provides a devastating critique of the idea that social media will increase social activism and its impact. Through a series of examples and consideration of network theory, he argues convincingly for an alternative interpretation: social media "makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact."

My first thought on reading this piece was to wonder what Gladwell would make of movements like the Obama election campaign, that used a mix of methods to engage people. He answers this question on a Q&A linked to the article: "The Obama election campaign did a very good job of doing both—augmenting social media tools with old-school grass roots organizing. To me, that’s the gold standard." This sums up the spirit of the article: for Gladwell, there is a place for social media ... More »

“Social networks are effective at increasing participation—by lessening the level of motivation that participation requires.” More »

See Full Review » (20 answers)
Jack Dinkmeyer
4.4
by Jack Dinkmeyer - Sep. 28, 2010

As usual the New Yorker comes up with a thoughtful, well constructed article using powerful narratives to contrast live participation in events to the growing trend of cyber-participation. Underlying the article is the concept that traditional relationships and face-to-face socialization are in flux, as we as we make greater use of emerging powerful, more depictive technology.

This strikes me as an updated version of the “high touch”–“high tech” debate of the late sixties. “High touch:” actively interacting with an event–vs–“high tech:” participation through technology with minimal effort and even less emotional buy-in. Although in the sixties digital technology was yet to have an impact, today’s increasingly realistic technology is altering our lives. High tech replacing high touch. Enormously affecting personal relationships, ... More »

See Full Review » (19 answers)
Joe Pallas
4.0
by Joe Pallas - Sep. 28, 2010

The author provides strong arguments for why organizational structure is important to effective activism—and why today's digital networks are not structured to achieve real change.

This piece helped clarify some things that bother me about social networking for change. I'm somewhat disappointed that my vague sense of ineffectuality may be thoroughly justified.

Because networks don’t have a centralized leadership structure and clear lines of authority, they have real difficulty reaching consensus and setting goals. They can’t ... More »

See Full Review » (7 answers)
Don Bertschman
4.0
by Don Bertschman - Sep. 28, 2010
See Full Review » (10 answers)
Alexis Kunsak
4.0
by Alexis Kunsak - Oct. 24, 2010

A timely, thorough wake up to the irrationality of some of the beliefs being spread around about social media and what it can achieve.

See Full Review » (4 answers)
Juliana Onieal
3.9
by Juliana Onieal - Sep. 28, 2010

This is good journalism because it recalls a story from first hand experience while drawing on current trends and global news. It's pitch is captivating and the first half is well written. Although, I did not understand fully understand why I was reading the article until about halfway, I thought Gladwell brought it together in a concise conclusion. He used references from respected professionals and was able to reach a wide audience. I really enjoyed this article.

See Full Review » (11 answers)
Elizabeth Harris
4.0
by Elizabeth Harris - Oct. 3, 2010

This story is extremely relevant to this day and age, many people, especially the younger generation, are very reliant on their Facebook and/or Twitter accounts which makes this article right up their alley.

See Full Review » (11 answers)

Comments on this story (1)Help (BETA)

NT Rating | My Rating

Ratings

4.2

Good
from 13 reviews (43% confidence)
Quality
4.2
Facts
4.0
Fairness
4.0
Information
3.8
Insight
4.2
Style
4.3
Accuracy
4.0
Balance
4.0
Context
4.2
Depth
4.3
Enterprise
4.5
Expertise
3.6
Originality
4.2
Relevance
4.2
Transparency
3.0
Responsibility
4.1
Popularity
4.3
Recommendation
4.5
Credibility
4.3
# Reviews
5.0
# Views
5.0
# Likes
1.0
# Emails
1.0
More
How our ratings work »
(See these related stories.)

Links Help

No links yet. Please review this story to add some!