Archive for the ‘commentary’ category

(Malcolm) Gladwell vs. (Clay) Shirky

December 27, 2011

This past September i wrote on Gladwell and Shirky’s disagreement regarding social media and specifically social media activism. [as Sam Spade]  I posted this to and basically opined that Gladwell was wrong.  I summed up Gladwell’s piece thusly:

What I took away from the Gladwell essay is that he believes that “The platforms of social media are built around weak ties…weak ties seldom lead to high-risk activism…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…A networked, weak-tie world is good at things like helping Wall Streeters get phones back from teen-age girls. Viva la revolución.””

Recently I saw an article in updating the topic.  It is called Gladwell vs. Shirky: A Year Later, Scoring the Debate Over Social-Media Revolutions.

What I wrote is below. I still agree with myself.

“I don’t understand why Gladwell named his piece “the revolution will not be tweeted”. His superficial evocation of the powerful Gil Scott-Heron piece “the revolution will not be televised” is at odds with his argument. […

What I took away from the Gladwell essay is that he believes that “The platforms of social media are built around weak ties…weak ties seldom lead to high-risk activism…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…A networked, weak-tie world is good at things like helping Wall Streeters get phones back from teen-age girls. Viva la revolución.”

Essentially Gladwell doesn’t see Twitter as a firestarter. Twitter followers and Facebook friends are weak social bonds. Individuals aren’t going to stick their necks out for someone they’ve never met before. He uses an american civil rights example to back up his point that “high-risk activism…is a “strong-tie” phenomenon.”

I think that Gladwell is overlooking the ideological amplification capabilities of Twitter. While I don’t have the case study prowess of Gladwell I wonder if Wikileaks is an example of an activist organization who’s revolution actually was tweeted. The United States DOJ certainly felt there was twitter information worth seizing via a secret court order. [which twitter challenged and opened –…

There is no way I believe that @CheGuevara could be as convincing as meatspace-CheGuevara or that “I Have a Dream” could have been conveyed in 140 characters-or-less but I don’t think that Gladwell necessarily “gets” twitter. It isn’t apparent that he is an active twitter user in any case.

Twitter allows information to get out and potentially become amplified if it hits a tipping point. It is the place where salesmen, connectors and mavens meet. Heck, it might as well be the connector. From one to many. This is the strength of a network and if the information is compelling enough my gut tells me that people will band together. [is this just my wishful thinking?] Wouldn’t the image below convey the same emotion and information if it were attached as a twitpic?

The revolution definitely won’t be televised. Maybe the revolution won’t be organized by an actitwitst. But I have a feeling that the revolution will be hashtagged. In real time.

“the revolution will be no re-run brothers;
the revolution will be live””

[my profile was restricted and I can’t edit because they want to confirm my identity with a driver’s id.  No longer interested innit.]


over two pints

October 31, 2011
over two pints.

my occupy rant

i’m mad as hell

July 25, 2011

when users of google+ get banned for being anonymous and companies-for-hire start recording your social media presence for potential employers  we are subject to oppression? coercion? in any event, i think there could be negative effects on freedom of expression.

if you provide a platform freely you should provide a platform freely. honestly. i believe that terms of service that force you to use your name on the net really do not accord with the norms of the electronic ecosystem. there are internet community standards of commercial morality and these standards welcome anons. this sort of policy undercuts the net’s value and in effect censors what people share.

i don’t know, i think this whole cloud buzz might just be a way to centralize information and shadow the end to end structure of the net. the structure of the net is its biggest advantage. when you screw around with the little nodes and make em one big node all you reflect is contingency, it might as well be an andy warhol screen print of a node. contingent mush!!

think about the particular value in a network and then decide if i’m way out in left field or not.

and i don’t think accountability is a true problem, although cyber-bullying is a real hazard.  i would like to see moderators and effective complaint system before a categorical rule is enforced. further if pseudonyms do something actually illegal the isps give ’em up.  i would expect an isp to give up a name even without evidence of illegality.

people need some anonymous culture votes but they aren’t gonna get em under the google+ name policy. SamuelClemens+ can’t be +1-ing his google searches, linking social media to his blog, writing without pre-judgment or living without (blog)post-judgment. the “point” of social media is different depending on what side you are on. google wants to exchange a product with your information. they want to control it. the user wants to benefit from the other users, not from google itself. get me on diaspora…i’m disappointed over here.


post script: to the internet and social media scroungers of my potentially future inchoate employers, clients, friends. ye who read this! i accept the fact that this is a certain and polarizing statement. you may not agree. when you meet me, i may not agree with the above-anymore-aNYway. this is merely a part of my online aggregate. these words don’t evolve over time. i do.

a response to

April 8, 2011

“The fact is that consumers can now make choices that are not beholdent [sic] to notions that surround a particular music, but based on the actual music itself.”

you can’t ever step outside of the music’s contingency. the only thing we are beholden to is the contingency of signifier and signified.

“actual music itself”? there is no access to the actual music itself. there is only access to our observation.

i also entirely disagree with this: “We are entering an era where “way of life” music genres (genres which stand oppositional to other genres) are rapidly losing their hold over consumers’ aesthetic choices.”

all genres stand oppositional to other genres. that’s what makes a genre a genre. the relational aspect. if a song doesn’t fit any genre it starts its own genre. too electronic to be shoegazer?? shoegazer-electronica it is! so as far as i can tell this claim is that all genres are rapidly losing their hold over consumers’ aesthetic choices.

and what is an aesthetic choice in music? the choice to listen to something because it is artfully pleasing? or, really the choice to listen to music in order to look aesthetically pleasing to others? personally i think that this is closer to the definition of hipster. the hipster consumer makes aesthetic choices rather than utilitarian choices. the hipster that shops in thrift stores get a free pass on this one, at least they did some work to look cool.

I agree with dustin. while i don’t think anyone can step outside of the contingency of mass media, culture and societal norms, the hipster is certainly an obvious barometer for these influences.

we’re all in this together i’m not gonna fault someone for looking different. if everyone has “i am a beautiful and unique snowflake” tattooed on their arm however, they are no longer unique. they all become part of the same signifier. (above and beyond the bit about us ALL being decaying organic matter who kick inert symbols back and forth)

furthermore, i don’t find the “Hipster” to be very faithful to being postmodern, poststructuralist, antifoundationist ETC., ETC. they appropriate from the surface for the surface. but whatever, i’m not going to say that any one else can do any better, or that it’s the worst thing to do.

because what else is there than surface?

weighing in on arizona

January 11, 2011

two things have happened in the past few days that have caught my attention

  1. the U.S. DOJ has subpoenaed obtained an order to compel Twitter to disclose information on certain @wikileaks followers.
  2. a 22 year old gunman shot down a child, a judge and a congresswoman.  the congresswoman is lucky to be alive as the bullet passed clean through her head

I have read a good bit of the early response to the shooting and i feel that this event is going to [already has] become a polarizing  issue.  The ostensive left has suggested a link between the Palin camp’s loaded language and the tragedy.  Here, Egan suggests the potential that a “poisonous variant of free speech” could be the cause of the shootings in Tuscon.  The ostensive right counters that the individual was unstable to begin with.  The impetus for the attack rested in the individual accused and not in the political media that surrounded that individual.  Further, Thiessen points out that this kneejerk partizanship is becoming a sloppy trend in left wing rhetoric.

What i find interesting is that both instances involve a freedom of speech argument.  Palin hasn’t really done anything other than be in poor taste.  How should she be censored??  Hopefully this incident could be used to raise awareness that 22 year old dangers-to-society have guns.

In the times article, Egan argues that:

“Even if the gunman’s motives are never truly known, the splattering of so much innocent blood on a Saturday morning gives a nation as fractious as ours a chance to think about what happens when words are used as weapons, and weapons are used in place of words.”

The rhetorical undoing of Egan’s assertion however is that he uses the same Pey-Lin allegories [words are weapons that can neutralize security].  this argument subverts free speech.  when speech (words, signs, contingency?) can threaten our physical selves it is easier to control.  Further, when the media can convince the user that words are weapons, words are easier to control.

Paralleling this is the wikileaks debacle.  The U.S. government is definitely going to try and sidestep any freedom of expression appeals as they will likely argue that assange and manning conspired to steal the documents.  This wrong is separate from the actual publishing of the material.  In other words the U.S. really wants to get Assange so they don’t get caught on record like this again.  Again this censorship flies under the flag of security.

There is, of course, a security argument regarding the wikileaks.  uncensored information is foolish.  we are continually holding the edit button to manipulate our autonomy.  the diplomatic core should be able to function with this same freedom.  let international policy mimic internal policy.

the threat that looms in the wikileaks saga is its consequence.

after 9/11, international travel changed.  after wikileaks, information travel is tracked by crosshairs.  what guides the cursor must never be followed without doubt!


November 24, 2010