Gladwell and Straw Men

The failure of the Green Revolution in Iran to dislodge the regime continues to spark a bonfire of Twitter-hating. The latest prominent figure to throw logs on the blaze is the essayist Malcolm Gladwell, in The New Yorker. The piece merits an essay-length response, but I will confine myself to three brief points. 1. Gladwell…

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Three Questions on Gladwell

In the current issue of the New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell applies his network critique to digital activism and takes the skeptic’s side (article link). I encourage you to read the original article, which is thought-provoking. However, I have some questions about the absolute distinctions he draws between online and offline activism. Gladwell draws an absolute…

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Meanwhile, in Budapest…

This past week Google hosted the first Internet at Liberty Conference in Budapest on “the promise and peril of online free expression”. The event brought together some of the smartest commentators and practitioners working on this issue around the world. Two of the participants, Jillian York and Leila Nachawati Rego, were kind enough to liveblog…

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Reflecting on Tech for Transparency

Technology for Transparency is a Global Voices project to map and evaluate technology projects that promote transparency, accountability,and civic engagement around the world. Recently the project’s co-directors, Rebekah Heacock and Renata Avila, wrote a post about lessons learned from the 37 case studies they’vepublished so far. It’s a commentary not only on tech for transparency,…

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Political vs. Apolitical Swarms

Gaurav Mishra has a very interesting response to my post on the seemingly low level of “bad” activism despite the admitted value-neutral nature of digital technology. He writes: Even as we celebrate swarm behavior on the social web (and what is digital activism if not “good” swarm behavior), we should remember that self-organized swarms can…

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