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[liberationtech] Cyber-sceptics wanted!

Jillian C. York jilliancyork at
Wed Mar 2 12:42:50 PST 2011

I do believe that; I also think that Gladwell's "weak ties" vs. "strong
ties" argument is inaccurate.  And, I think that Gladwell--who admittedly is
not a user of social media--is not well-positioned for this discussion.

I also don't particularly feel that Gladwell has brought anything new to the
debate; rather, it's his fame that makes it seem that way.

I wrote this awhile back but I stand by it:

I unfortunately can't see your link, as it's behind some sort of Stanford

On Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 3:31 PM, Pranesh Prakash <pranesh at>wrote:

> On Thursday 03 March 2011 12:49 AM, Jillian C. York wrote:
>> Thus solidifying Gladwell as one of the most irrelevant voices in this
>> space.
> I'm a bit confused. I thought you believed that calling things "Twitter
> revolutions" is inappropriate.  Gladwell agrees, for very similar reasons,
> as it happens.
> He looks at the activism associated with social media from a telescopic
> perspective seeing that most of it is actually what is derided as
> "slactivism", while looking day-in day-out at activists you see social media
> services as potent tools in their hands.   His view seems seems to be that
> most of the activism using social media is really not done by (what he
> deems) real "activists" on the ground, but by people who click "Like" on a
> "Save Darfur" page (or by people up in arms about a Facebook homepage
> redesign).
> While there are certainly a great many reasons to disagree with him (and I
> do[1]), our disagreement with him hardly makes his voice and his ideas about
> digital activism irrelevant.  I think he has contributed to the debate.
>  [1]:
> On Thursday 03 March 2011 12:39 AM, Alec Muffett wrote:
>> In essence the exchange boils down to:
>> MG: Because revolutions did occur in the pre-internet days, ergo the
>> internet/web/socialmedia is irrelevant to revolutions. Nyaah!
> What a gross oversimplification!  (Which is quite rich when you yourself
> write, "I'd go further and say that there's a general lack of understanding,
> let alone nuance".)  So you don't think people are entitled to hold that
> social media technologies can be helpful for protests without
> revolutionising them?  So we will now separate people into two water-tight
> compartments of believers of the revolutionary powers of social media and
> the non-believers?
> Gladwell doesn't believe that social media tools are "irrelevant".  He
> admits that Shirky's pointed out good examples of how they've been put to
> good use.  He still holds that Shirky hasn't discharged his burden of proof
> in showing their centrality.  "Not being central" != "irrelevant".  That's
> something called nuance.  We both agree, thankfully, that more of it is
> needed in debates around digital technologies and societal impact.
> Regards,
> Pranesh
> --
> Pranesh Prakash
> Programme Manager
> Centre for Internet and Society
> W: | T: +91 80 40926283
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Berkman Center for Internet and Society | | @jilliancyork | tel: +1-857-891-4244
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