Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Why the revolution will not be tweeted" - Malcolm Gladwell

In a forthcoming publication for the Rockefeller Foundation, my colleague Edgar Masatu and I reflect on ICTs and Citizen Agency.

The soaring penetration of mobile communication devices around the world is having profound effects on access to information, business models in financial services, forms of social mobilization, and sources of innovation. We explore the ability of social media to serve as an “aggregation of voices from the bottom up,” and cite examples such as social media being credited with amplifying the mobilizing power of Thailand’s Red Shirt protestors and facilitating citizen journalists to “report” on the Chinese and Iranian authorities’ responses to recent street protests. Lawrence Haddad from the Institute of Development Studies in the United Kingdom predicted that driven by ICTs, “people power in development will move into a new age.”

But, should we believe the hype that ICTs may re-shape the relationship between the state and the citizen? Is the technology enhancing citizens’ participation in civic life or their ability to hold governments more accountable? Can social media change politics?

Malcolm Gladwell has a different perspective and does not think that social media is (or can be) an instrument of big change.The article is called ‘Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted” Here is one of his sentences in his inimitable style:
“...Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice. We are a long way from the lunch counters of Greensboro.”

Intrigued? Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_gladwell?currentPage=all#ixzz10odV5zGi


Anonymous said...

It just happen with Obama, we all know the facts, regarding that.

The internet in particular play a Big roll on his ascendants to Power, mobilising the young, the Tweets, and all the facinating people who rely heavily on internet to communicate and charge themselved up, for a common cause, and it happen.

The same can be said, with Tanzania. There are a lot of fresh minds and ideas which are pretty much blogged and tweeted, and in fairness to say, they have been effective on the peoples involved, who do the ground works.

in my assessment it is inevitable to happen. We are all rely on it, it is an information age.

Anonymous said...

Good read. The Gladwell's main point in this article based on the notion that "strong-ties" are essential to engage in high risk activism. That Tweets and Facebook posts are only good enough for good-will activism with low risk and they lack structural hierarchy needed for more sophisticated activism.

I think he has a point, but the true genius of tweets/facebook/texts message is their collective mobilization prowess. Their risk is obvious, they can easily be censored, and counter productive. The truest revolution will be incredibly difficult to be tweeted, but at least one can stage a sophisticated get out to vote mechanism by using social networks.

Anonymous said...

What exactly his point, I can understand your assertion on the notion, of the revolution of let say Mapinduzi ya Zanzibar or peacefull revolution of the Gandhi, but on both cases before the internet age, the revolution was caused by mobilizing the people in secretive organization or alternatively by prowess of words and charming offensive, which become increasingly difficult to ignore, which can be proven by Gandhi revolution for independence.

but at the same time, all of these can really happen and enhancing the base with one step of smartness, that is the use of the internet facilities, blogging, message boards, youtubing and so on so forth.

But I would agree on one point, although they are censored, luck structured approach, and hierarchy organisation but at the same can be said of the ground revolution, without the tweets and internet, which will be proven to be more difficult to organise on these days in age.

and I have firm believe that, internet has become a greatest weapon influencing decision makings on the government and its apparatus, whatever your thoughts on this, and this has been proven on number of occassions. I would call it a one MAN revolution, and thats how easier it has become. For instance if I post a youtube video that alleged a government official that is accused of misuse of power, that evidence can influence the decision by its subordinates to request his resignation, or same can be said by enforcing the government to act, in terms of legislative natures. thats huge in my understanding.

Do you know that, the biggest threat to Communist CHINA is internet, they go on much length in censoring it, such as the decision taken to such down GOOGLE, it is just the matter of time.

Anonymous said...

I just looked at my first comment(september 28 & 29) on this thread, thanks to my own insight of things, this theory of "Why the revolution will not be tweeted", it has just been debunked in Egypt...