Activism 2.0

The use of social network sites is growing at an exponential rate. However, the growth that is occurring cannot merely be perceived on a subscription level. The increasing functionality of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is leveraging growth in the ways which society use social media. This increasing functionality is in effect, developing a foundation upon which future possibilities of the internet and the philosophies which extend from it are created.

I agree with Maria Popova’s (2010) statement in that the hierarchies which exist within the social web of the internet, are particularly useful in promoting an understanding of causes. While awareness is certainly not a sufficient condition for activism, it is a necessary one, and the social network platforms available in modern times offer a place in which to draw attention to an issue and convey the messages to a far wider audience than ever before.

In reflecting on the use of social media in the Arab Spring in the article by Morozov (2011), it is of my perception that social media was employed as a tool to assist the movement, however it was not the reasoning behind it. The use of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter during this time were essentially an effective aid to help carry the notion of engagement with political institutions and reforms. However, activism, whether online or offline requires reasoning and passion and desired for change by those involved. These three motives are what drive a reform and a revolution. From a marketing perspective, it could be seen that social media is the execution or strategy which is used to reach an objective. This is not to say that the role of social media in such movements is not valued. In fact, my view is quite the contrary. As our society becomes ever increasingly saturated in technology, the ways of life, including standing up for what you believe in are consequently becoming more prevalent online.

Social media is the tool which carries the voice. It is the users which create the message.

Reference:

Morozov, E. (2011) ‘ Facebook and Twitter are just places revolutionaries go’ The Guardian, 7 March. [URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/07/facebook-twitter-revolutionaries-cyber- utopians].

Popova, M. (2010) ‘Malcolm Gladwell Is #Wrong’ Change Observer, 10 June. [URL: http://changeobserver.designobserver.com/feature/malcolm-gladwell-is-wrong/19008/].

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Twitter: The millennial megaphone

A bridge made of pebbles is an excellent analogy used by Johnson (2009) in describing the use of short Tweets to create something so large – an atmosphere of constant awareness. I feel that this analogy could be applied to many aspects of the internet. The plethora of information which is available online creates the notion of what we know as the internet or cyberculture itself. This overabundance of information, which has been aided by the rise of mass ameaturisation, has developed the organisational habit of sorting.

The previous communication models where the audience is considered passive and absorbent are now being literally rewritten by society. The interactive nature of online content, through selection and sorting of relevance had developed the emergence of a participatory culture. This culture has not only created effects online, but also offline through the advance of new ethics, credibility and collective intelligence. In this world, consumers become prosumers, where participating has its own rewards. However, the ease of creating online content has vastly altered the power balance between traditional news outlets and the emergence of new information hubs. Consumers can now actively seek information and furthermore, critically analyse and evaluate an issue beyond the normative agenda setting of the industrial news outlets.

Bruns (2009) refers to the notion of ‘gatewatchers’ as ‘guide dogs’ who may point their users to useful reports in conventional news publications as well as to first-hand materials from official or unofficial sources or to insightful commentary and analysis; in other words, they watch the output gates of other sources, and further publicise the material published allowing people to compare and contrasts news with only a few clicks. The focus here has shifted from first hand investigation, to the development of retrieval and analytical skills. I think the concept of ‘gatewatchers’ is reoccurring in many facets of the internet beyond citizen journalism and is a reflection of the increasingly critical society which we are a part of.

Reference:

Bruns, A. (2009) ‘News Blogs and Citizen Journalism: New Directions for e-Journalism’ [URL: http://produsage.org/files/News%20Blogs%20and%20Citizen%20Journalism.pdf].

Johnson, S. (2009). How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live. Time [URL: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1902604,00.html].

Mitew, T 2012, Social media and the rise of gatewatchers, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 10/09/2012.

Image sourced from:

http://ukwebfocus.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/twitter-wordle-20100809.png.