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3120: 2Media and Community

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David Moscowitz

on 28 December 2016

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Transcript of 3120: 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
public activism
The revolution will not be tweeted.

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

Some argue that
several high profile examples
affirm 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?"
It is a call for communal connections facilitated by technology.
Does public outpouring show new forms of community, new forms of the public sphere?
Gladwell tells the story of the Greensboro, NC civil rights sit-ins, notes that these were the result of 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. The Arab Spring:
On December

18, 2010, Muhammad Bouazizi sets himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia.
News of his death, and video of the event and Bouazizi's funeral, catalyzed more protests.
Protesters relied heavily on social media to distribute videos and organize more 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" in January 2011, and flooded their town squares.
Once people are digitally networked, they can experience two kinds of "dense" information:
flow density
- the number of times that people hear and see events
emotional density
- people experience others' reactions to and perceptions about the events
KONY 2012
Stanford sociologist Doug McAdam: What matters more is
degree of personal connection
(to the civil-rights movement in his studies). 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
"The platforms of social media 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."
Do social media campaigns ask much of their followers?
Social media avoids hierarchical organization; it builds networks, which is the opposite (in structure and character). Unlike hierarchies, with rules and procedures, 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
the Arab Spring.
Did those events change his views?
In-person communities have two advantages:
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 in our political culture 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
Full transcript