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[liberationtech] Cyber-sceptics wanted!

Yosem Companys companys at stanford.edu
Wed Mar 2 12:59:43 PST 2011


I don't often comment on the list, other than in moderator capacity...  But
I completely agree with Jillian on Gladwell inaccuracy of weak ties vs.
strong ties argument.  Gladwell cites Granovetter, but Granovetter's work
clearly shows weak ties -> info diffusion, which is what Mario Diani's
empirical work shows about movements.  In other words, tech or not, weak
ties fuel movements.  Otherwise, you can't build critical mass and reach
tipping points, which Gladwell argues in his book summary of Granovetter and
critical mass theory.  No one questions strong ties are needed to some
extent in early stage of activism, but as McAdam argues, strong ties early
on are required either for high risk activism or for securing resources.
 And from my own research on Dean & Clark in 2004, these were bloggers &
forum organizers who had never met each other in person (they met AFTER
starting the netroots movement online), and yet they seemed to run virtual
organizations quite well on weak ties.

On Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 12:42 PM, Jillian C. York <jilliancyork at gmail.com>wrote:

> 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:
> http://jilliancyork.com/2010/09/27/the-false-poles-of-digital-and-traditional-activism/
>
> I unfortunately can't see your link, as it's behind some sort of Stanford
> firewall.
>
> On Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 3:31 PM, Pranesh Prakash <pranesh at cis-india.org>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]: http://goo.gl/Ky1l5
>>
>>
>> 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: http://cis-india.org | T: +91 80 40926283
>>
>>
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>
>
>
> --
> Berkman Center for Internet and Society |
> https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/jyork
> jilliancyork.com | @jilliancyork | tel: +1-857-891-4244
>
>
>
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