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Twitter Gladwell's Social Media Argument

Twitter Gladwell's Social Media Argument

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Published by Luciana Moherdaui

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Published by: Luciana Moherdaui on Oct 13, 2010
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10/13/2010

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Twitter: Gladwell's social mediaargument 'laughable'
Ev Williams and Biz Stone hit back at the New Yorker article thatgot everybody tweeting
Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter: Absurd to suggest social networks aren't complementary to activism
Twitter founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone have derided Malcolm Gladwell's contentionthat the effect of online networks on social change is greatly exaggerated, saying hisargument is "laughable". Williams, who stepped down as chief executive of the social networking site last week,said Gladwell's New Yorker article was "entertaining but kind of pointless", while Stonesaid it was "absurd" to think that social networks were not "complementary toactivism".The pair are the latest to launch a riposte to Gladwell's dismissal of social networks, afterthe article – subheaded "Why the revolution will not be tweeted" – began to make waves on Monday 4 October. Williams said: "It was a very well-constructed argument but it was kind of laughable."Anyone who's claiming that sending a tweet by itself is activism, that's ludicrous — butno one's claiming that, at least no one that's credible. If you can't organise you can'tactivate. I thought [the article] was entertaining but kind of pointless."In his argument, Gladwell cited the American civil rights movement of the late-fiftiesand sixties as an example of social change that was based on intimate friendship,suggesting that the "weak ties" connecting people online were not of the same influence."Enthusiasts for social media would no doubt have us believe that [Martin Luther] King'stask in Birmingham, Alabama, would have been made infinitely easier had he been able
13/10/2010 witter: Gladwell's social media arguguardian.co.uk//twitter-malcolm-gla1/4
 
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Skiamakhos
12 October 2010 1:41PMTwitter was pretty well central to the anti-police brutality demo that happened inLondon's Scotland Yard after the killing of Ian Tomlinson. The demo was organised within a couple of hours of the death IIRC.Recommend? (0)Report abuse
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Jungla
12 October 2010 1:53PMThe cadre of prominent bloggers, like Andrew Sullivan, who championed the role of social media in Iran, Esfandiari continued, misunderstood the situation. “Western journalists who couldn’t reach—or didn’t bother reaching?—people on the ground in Iranto communicate with his followers through Facebook, and contented himself with tweetsfrom a Birmingham jail," Gladwell argued."But [online] networks are messy: think of the ceaseless pattern of correction andrevision, amendment and debate, that characterises Wikipedia. If Martin Luther King,Jr had tried to do a wiki-boycott in Montgomery, he would have been steamrollered by the white power structure."And of what use would a digital communication tool be in a town where 98% of the black community could be reached every Sunday morning at church? The things that Kingneeded – discipline and strategy – were things that online social media cannot provide."Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, said on Monday: "The real-time exchange of information — a service like Twitter — it would be absurd to think it's notcomplementary to activism. When it really comes down to it, it's not going to betechnology that's going to be the agent of change. It's going to be people; it's going to behumanity."The pair did, however, hold back from the kind of hyperbole heaped upon Twitter for itsrole in last year's Iranian election protests, saying that no one had intimated that 'therevolution will be tweeted'."It's always been our goal to reach the 'weakest signals' all over the world, such as therecent usage in Iran and Moldova," Williams said.
13/10/2010 witter: Gladwell's social media arguguardian.co.uk//twitter-malcolm-gla2/4
 
simply scrolled through the English-language tweets post with tag #iranelection,” she wrote. “Through it all, no one seemed to wonder why people trying to coordinateprotests in Iran would be writing in any language other than Farsi.”That's a good point. People like to feel part of a movement.Good article, Gladwell.Recommend? (0)Report abuse
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encasedsliceofsheet
12 October 2010 1:56PMTwitter, being the easiest and quickest form currently available of mass communication, will obviously be
 part 
of any large demonstration, and any revolution. That is not to say that it will unfold in such a dramatically altered way 
owing
to Twitter. That activism willuse the latest available means of easy communication is obvious, and barely worthstating. Gladwell's point is that mass gathering amongst groups intimate on a personallevel will be necessary and a part of any revolution. Which is unassailable. Anotherproblem with Twitter as a tool to actuall
launch
or shape a revolution is the problem of trust. You have to have absolute certainty that everyone who says they will take to thestreets actually WILL. You have to have the power of the group, otherwise you will worry you will go alone, and end up looking foolish or worse get picked off by the police.I'm no Gladwell fan in general, but honestly a lot of the reaction to his article has been very silly, and smacks of a generation terrified of becoming defunct or being tarred withthe "curmudgeon" brush.Recommend? (1)Report abuse
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creekwhore
12 October 2010 2:56PM bosses defend their company from criticism....would you believe it? Welcome to the age of pointless, droning networks; talk of the "revolution" makes melaugh. The dystopian vision of people connected to mind numbing brain rinsing hashappened; but ironically, not with forced participation but sheep like, unquestioningacquiescence. Quick! Twitter what a luddite i am...Recommend? (1)Report abuse
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fibmac70
12 October 2010 5:45PM
The pair did, however, hold back from the kind of hyperbole heaped upon Twitter for its role in last year's Iranian election protests, saying that no one had intimated that 'the revolution will be tweeted'.
 What sort of benighted critterThinks
 Ayatollahs
can be put to flight by 
Twitter 
?Recommend? (0)Report abuse
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dangrech
13/10/2010 witter: Gladwell's social media arguguardian.co.uk//twitter-malcolm-gla3/4

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