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101: 2Media and Community

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by

David Moscowitz

on 4 September 2017

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Transcript of 101: 2Media and Community

1. Do online communities really exist?
2. Can they endure? Does (social) media make civic engagement more or less likely?
3. Has (social) media changed our notion of
community
and/or
public activism
?
"The revolution will not be tweeted."

Malcolm Gladwell in 2010
Many critics of the internet and social media claim:
a. We relish our online
anonymity
.
b. Social media encourages
short-term
pleasures.
c. Society today is a bottomless pit of
distractions
,
an endless stream of "
interruption technologies
."
The question:
Can screen cultures spur meaningful forms of public engagement?

Here are three high profile
examples
of this...
3. Haiti:
Paul Conneally, public communication director for the International Red Cross...
The UN and the International Criminal Court declare Joseph Kony a war criminal.
2. KONY 2012
, a 30-minute film, was a social media sensation...

Over 100 million YouTube views
Justin Beiber, Will Smith, and J.K. Rowling tweeted related links.
"The KONY 2012 campaign started as an experiment. Could an online video make an obscure war criminal famous? And if he was famous, would the world work together to stop him?"
Does public expression show new forms of community and of the public sphere?
Gladwell notes the Greensboro, NC sit-ins. They resulted from many hours of in-person group training about how to pursue this form of protest.
Gladwell concludes that social media could never facilitate this type of protest.
So...does Twitter topple dictators?
1. Arab Spring:
Muhammad Bouazizi sets himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, on Dec.

18, 2010.

Using social media, news of his death and video of the event and Bouazizi's funeral catalyzed protests.
Protesters used social media to organize continued protests.
Ben Ali, Tunisian dictator, fled within a month.
Revolutionary protests spread throughout the Arab world in 2011 and 2012.

Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, and Libya all have new governments as a result of both violent and non-violent clashes between protesters and pro-government forces.
Inspired by Tunisians, Egyptians declare a "day of rage" and fill town squares in January 2011.
Once people are digitally networked, they can experience two kinds of "
dense
" information:
1.
flow density
- the number of times that people hear and see events
2.
emotional density
- people experience others' reactions to and perceptions about the events
KONY 2012
Discipline:
To Stanford sociologist Doug McAdam and his studies of the civil rights movement in the 1960's, what mattered was
degree of personal connection
. "Participants were far more likely than dropouts to have close friends who were also going to Mississippi. High-risk activism, McAdam concluded, is
a 'strong-tie' phenomenon
."
Gladwell: Social media platforms "are built around
weak ties
. Twitter is a way of following (or being followed by) people you may never have met. Facebook is a tool for efficiently managing your acquaintances, for keeping up with the people you would not otherwise be able to stay in touch with."
What
form(s)
of activism do social media campaigns ask of their followers?
Organization:
Social media avoids hierarchical organization; it builds networks, "which are the opposite (in structure and character) of hierarchies." Networks "aren’t controlled by a single central authority. Decisions are made through consensus, and the
ties that bind people to the group are loose
."
Gladwell wrote that
before
Arab Spring.
Did those events change his views?
In-person communities have two advantages:
discipline
and
organization
KONY 2012 reached the highest levels of American government.
When Gary Ackerman, Democratic Representative from New York, retired in 2012, he was asked what had changed since he was first elected in 1983.

“I think the people have
gotten dumber," he said.
McLuhan: "The medium is the message."
Gladwell: "The revolution will not be tweeted."
child soldiers
sex slaves
mutilation and murder
http://invisiblechildren.com/KONY/
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/10/04/small-change-malcolm-gladwell
Full transcript