Twittering Your Thumbs

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This is hillarious.

But what really makes it (and attached post from Radar) interesting is how it contrasts with the writing of people like Jeff Jarvis or NYC blogger Lisa Sabater that make Twittering a cornerstone of their online presence, alongside blogging and social networking.

I’m still trying to decide on how or if to use social networks – I consider them to have limited utility at best as organizing tools, as danah boyd explained in her essay in the anthology Personal Democracy. I think her argument about the online echo-chamber very simply explains why techno-phillia seems so prevalent: social networking sites, twitter, etc. only put you in contact with people who also like and use those technologies.  And if you write about media or technology, that necessarily skews your perception of how many people use that technology, and its relevance – your sense of what matters on a large scale leans towards their world view constructed through the lens of the people they know in (ultimately) local, small scale communities.

In terms of building organizations and effective social change, nothing beats feet on the ground.  The internet only functions as a useful device for social change if people already seek out other people pursuing social change, and already want to use it as such.  (Not to say that there’s an impossible gap between political types and non-, but it’s safe to say that folks use the internet in regular, enclaved ways)  Being ‘in the streets’ shouldn’t be fetishized – I’ve seen enough ineffective face-to-face preachings to know that you can alienate and  frustrate in person – but I think it’s a pipe dream to see social networking, or blogging (ha) as a cure to what ails organizers.

As a caveat, I think Facebook as some advantages, in particular contexts.  What drove Facebook’s early growth was its connection to specific places – colleges.  It built directly on the activity of daily networking students engage in for whatever reason, and made an online presence around that physical interaction, amplifying it in unique ways.  I think social networking can solidify certain types of relationships in ways useful to organizers, but those begin from local, physical interactions.

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One response to “Twittering Your Thumbs

  1. I don’t know what you’re trying to get support for but you appear to be contradicting your own argument by using your blog for everything.

    Feet on the ground then how we could have used this over ten years ago to mobilize our efforts to get people to go to public meetings and write letters to their council members.

    Good luck with whatever cycling activities you’re working on. cookingwithdee.net Dee

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