ANNALS OF INNOVATION
Why the revolution will not be tweeted.
by Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker
OCTOBER 4, 2010
Social media can’t provide what social change has always required.
The evangelists of social media don’t understand this distinction; they seem to believe that a Facebook friend is the same as a real friend and that signing up for a donor registry in Silicon Valley today is activism in the same sense as sitting at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro in 1960. “Social networks are particularly effective at increasing motivation,” Aaker and Smith write. But that’s not true. Social networks are effective at increasing participation—by lessening the level of motivation that participation requires. . . . . . . . In other words, Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice. We are a long way from the lunch counters of Greensboro.
Phi Beta Iota: What is revolutionary about Twitter and Facebook is the ability to move information. Nothing more. It is the content, the nature, the biting, arousing, energizing nature of the content that moves people to burn tires in the streets or do other non-violent mass demonstrations. We are not there yet because nobody–not Ralph Nader, not Ron Paul, not Cynthia McKinney, not Jackie Salit, and certainly not Mike Bloomberg, who could be President–is actually trying to create public intelligence in the public interest. Our Virtual Cabinet series at Huffington Post is a start, but until funding or cognitive surplus can be found for the World Brain and Global Game, Twitter and Facebook will remain in grade school and not graduate to real life. IOHO.