Posted by: kenwbudd | October 19, 2010

Twitter and the American Revolution

Twitter is a global information network made powerful by what the American sociologist Mark Granovetter from Stanford University first theorised as “The Strength of Weak Ties.”

Granovetter’s paper was later popularised by the international bestselling book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by the esteemed Malcolm Gladwell.

In his book, Gladwell teaches us how Paul Revere and this “weak-tie” phenomenon contributed to the success of The American Revolution.

Paul Revere had a broad network, a fast communication system (a horse), and a catchy phrase far less than one hundred and forty characters: “The British are coming!”

In “Small Change,” Mr. Gladwell admits that social media activism is “a wonderful thing” empowering citizens with “marvelous efficiency.”

The American Revolution and Civil Rights Movement were not tweeted, but to suggest that emerging tools like Twitter have no part to play in the future of meaningful change is absurd.

Little things can make a big difference and social networks are the carriers of change.

“Viva la revolución.”
“Small Change” dismisses leaderless, self-organising systems as viable agents of change. A flock of birds flying around an object in flight has no leader yet this beautiful, seemingly choreographed movement is the very embodiment of change.

Rudimentary communication among individuals in real time allows many to move together as one–suddenly uniting everyone in a common goal. Lowering the barrier to activism doesn’t weaken humanity, it brings us together and it makes us stronger.


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