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[liberationtech] Malcolm Gladwell on Traditional vs. Online Activism

Mary Joyce marycjoyce at
Mon Sep 27 07:45:59 PDT 2010

... in the current* New Yorker*:

Some questions:

   1. Gladwell draws an absolute distinction between the *strong ties* of
   offline activism (example of the civil rights movement) and the *weak
   ties* of online activism (examples of Darfur Facebook groups). Is this an
   accurate distinction?
   2. Gladwell reiterates the observation that offline activism is *
   hierarchical* and strategic while online activism is *decentralized* and
   ad hoc.  Does this distinction doom online activism to failure or just
   indicate a new mechanics of activism?
   3. Gladwell argues that centralized and hierarchical protest movements,
   like the civil rights movement, which "help us persevere in the face of
   danger" and "promote strategic and disciplined activity" are unequivocally
   more *effective* than a decentralized and networked movements.  Might
   this statement not be true under repressive regimes?


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"Digital Activism Decoded"  |  New Book Drops in Summer 2010
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