Viva La Revolution?

Malcolm Gladwell came under fire recently for downplaying the impact of social media in social revolution.

For those of you who are unfamilar, Gladwell is a US-based writer, whose writing is has featured heavily in the ‘New Yorker’ since 1996. Gladwell has also published several books of sociological theory. The article, published on the ‘New Yorker’s’  website, titled “Why the revolution will not be tweeted” proved heavily provocative — prompting outcry from all over the internet. In the article, Gladwell regards the influence of social media as greatly exaggerated. He also declares social media connections as “weak ties” in comparison to the arguably ‘more human’ efforts of the past.

As quickly as this article was published online, an abundance of backlash surfaced — perhaps most notably from founders of, Ev Williams and Biz Stone. Stone, although stating that there was some validity in Gladwell’s argument, said, “The real-time exchange of information — a service like Twitter — it would be absurd to think it’s not complementary to activism. When it really comes down to it, it’s not going to be technology that’s going to be the agent of change. It’s going to be people; it’s going to be humanity”.

Williams dismissed the article as “absurd” and “laughable”.

Further reading:

There is an interview with Williams and Stone, where the impact of Twitter is discussed in more general terms. Amy Miller’s full blog response to Gladwell’s article offers a human interest perspective on the impact of social media. Shane Richmond of the Telegraph also throws in his two cents about Gladwell’s provocative article.

Finally, you follow Malcolm Gladwell on Twitter here.


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