October 20, 2011

Social media: rethinking the limits

About a year ago, popular New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell published an article in that magazine about the limits of social media like Facebook and Twitter in movements for social change.

I was pretty impressed with his argument at the time. If memory serves, he talked about how weak ties such as those from an online community could help in accomplishing some things, these would not be enough when push came to shove. The US Civil Rights movement, for example, relied on strong ties based on trust and commitment.

Then came the events of the "Arab spring" earlier this year and the success of the Occupy Wall Street movement in which social media played a major role. It might be time to rethink Gladwell's argument. Obviously, it's not a case of either/or but social media has turned out to be more of a game changer that I would have expected.

Here's a little anecdote about the impact of social media from the Occupy efforts in Charleston, WV. Yesterday, a wet and miserable day for occupying anything, an official connected with the city apparently came by the Occupy site and told people they'd need to take down their tarps and signs.

Word got out via Facebook right away. People jumped in, made calls, contacted the media, etc. In the end, a compromise was achieved. That's not exactly a case of turning back the tanks but it was interesting.

FRAMING THE OCCUPATION. Here are some suggestions from George Lakoff on messaging for the movement.

THE END OF THE WORLD, AGAIN. Oct. 21 is the latest predicted date for the end of the world. Here's a look a predicted apocalypses of the past. There seems to be a common theme...something about not happening.

OCCUPYING THOUGHTS. Here's the latest edition of the Rev. Jim Lewis' Notes from Under the Fig Tree.

URGENT ZOMBIE WASP UPDATE here. And it's really creepy. This would make one hell of a gross out horror movie if it happened to people.


1 comment:

Elizabeth Gaucher said...

I agree. Not sure it was Gladwell but when I heard that line, "The revolution will not be tweeted," it didn't sound entirely convincing to me.

My husband quotes John Chambers about the Internet and social media, "All of the gatekeepers are going to lose." Excellent!