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bronnen edine

bronnen edine

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Published by: xxanne_vervoortxx on Oct 12, 2011
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Can you social network your way to revolution?
Sep 27th 2010, 20:56 by R.A. | WASHINGTONMALCOLM GLADWELL is generally quite good at brushing away complicating detailsand getting the big picture. But not always. His latest New Yorker HYPERLINK"http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_gladwell?currentPage=all" piece, on the revolutionary power of social media, is one of thosenot always times.Mr Gladwell argues that social networking platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, arenot likely to be helpful in generating real social change, a la the American CivilRights movement. Why? He cites two key reasons. First, effective social movementsrequire sacrifice, which is built on strong bonds between people—the kind where youcan demand real participation from each other. Social networks, on the other hand,are good for building and maintaining thousands of weak relationships—the kindwhere you can get people to "like" your cause or re-tweet your message, but notshow up to an actual protest.Secondly, real social movements require hierarchical organisation to be effective—someone has to be strategising and coordinating. Social networks aren't hierarchical;they're networks. That makes them flexible and resilient, but not particularlystrategic or goal-oriented. And so, Mr Gladwell says, social networks will be usefulfor all kinds of things, but not for the really hard tasks involved in social change.Tyler Cowen HYPERLINK "http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2010/09/will-social-networks-boost-social-change.html" suggests Mr Gladwell maynot have this quite right.The point is well-taken but still activism of some kinds should go up. Loose tiesfavor campaigns to get out the vote and sign petitions; those developments canbring about many positive changes. Most unsettled issues in American politics odaywould not be well-served by organizing less cooperative confrontations, even if youperceive a great injustice. I believe that "making the existing social order" moreefficient, to use Gladwell's phrase, is positively correlated with many desirablereforms, as are the qualities of "resilience" and "adaptability." If we look at therecent experience in Iran, web mobilization seems to have encouraged -- notdiscouraged -- people from risking their lives for a cause.I think Mr Gladwell misses a number of crucial things. One mistake is to assumethat social media merely increases weak ties. In my experience, it strengthens tiesgenerally. Networks like Twitter and Facebook reduce the cost of minor interactions,which leads to more minor interactions. Mr Gladwell sees this and notes the rise in
 
minor interactions between thousands of quasi-friends. What he misses is thatrepeated minor actions are also the means by which stronger relationships are keptstrong. These platforms make it easier to maintain friendships through trying timesand circumstances.Another of his errors comes from downplaying the significance of resilience andredundance. The problem with a hierarchical system is that it breaks easily andcatastrophically. If its leader makes a mistake or is somehow neutralised, themovement suffers a crucial blow. Networks, on the other hand, are bottom-upenterprises. They're very difficult to shut-down or break.And this gets to the really, marvelously subversive thing about networks: the way inwhich they equalise information relationships. On social networks, anyone andeveryone becomes a producer of content, and this function is taken away fromcentral actors susceptible to control by the powerful. Where social networkspenetrate, governments cannot control the story. This is true in places like Iran, andin America. It has been fascinating, in recent years, to observe the number of casesin which police abuse of some sort or another has been exposed thanks to thedistributed information gathering and filtering powers of social networks.Social networking, it seems to me, has quite clearly shifted the balance of poweraway from centralised power and authority. Perhaps we haven't observed clearevidence of its revolutionary potential yet, but this shift alone seems extremelypromising. And what is not seen might be just as important; in a world in whichinformation can't be controlled, abuses of power should become costlier and morerare. Twitter might, in some cases, make actual protests unnecessary. And thatwould be a good thing. 
 
The truth about Twitter, Facebook and theuprisings in the Arab world
Recent events in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt have been called 'Twitter revolutions' –but can social networking overthrow a government? Our correspondent reports fromthe Middle East on how activists are really using the webFacebook graffiti in Tahrir Square, Cairo. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/GettyImages EuropeThink of the defining image of the uprisings in the HYPERLINK "http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/middleeast" \o "More from guardian.co.uk on MiddleEast" Middle East and North HYPERLINK "http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/africa"\o "More from guardian.co.uk on Africa" Africa – the idea that unites HYPERLINK"http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/egypt" \o "More from guardian.co.uk on Egypt"Egypt with HYPERLINK "http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/tunisia" \o "More fromguardian.co.uk on Tunisia" Tunisia, HYPERLINK "http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/bahrain" \o "More from guardian.co.uk on Bahrain" Bahrain and HYPERLINK "http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/libya" \o "More from guardian.co.uk on Libya" Libya.It has not been, in itself, the celebrations of Hosni Mubarak's fall nor the battles inTahrir Square in Cairo. Nor even the fact of Mohammed Bouazizi's self-immolationin the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, which acted as a trigger for all theevents that have unfolded.Instead, that defining image is this: a young woman or a young man with asmartphone. She's in the Medina in Tunis with a BlackBerry held aloft, taking apicture of a demonstration outside the prime minister's house. He is an angryEgyptian doctor in an aid station stooping to capture the image of a man with ahead injury from missiles thrown by Mubarak's supporters. Or it is a Libyan inBenghazi running with his phone switched to a jerky video mode, surprised when theyouth in front of him is shot through the head.All of them are images that have found their way on to the internet through socialmedia sites. And it's not just images. In Tahrir Square I sat one morning next to a60-year-old surgeon cheerfully tweeting his involvement in the HYPERLINK "http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/protest" \o "More from guardian.co.uk on Protest"protest. The barricades today do not bristle with bayonets and rifles, but withphones.

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