Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Malcolm Gladwell, Egypt, and Social Media

With all that is going on in Egypt and all over the rest of the Arab world, Malcolm Gladwell is focusing on the most important thing: He’s making sure nobody gives Twitter and Facebook too much credit for this, since we all know that social media is useless when it comes to affecting social change:

“But surely the least interesting fact about them is that some of the protesters may (or may not) have at one point or another employed some of the tools of the new media to communicate with one another. Please. People protested and brought down governments before Facebook was invented. They did it before the Internet came along. Barely anyone in East Germany in the nineteen-eighties had a phone—and they ended up with hundreds of thousands of people in central Leipzig and brought down a regime that we all thought would last another hundred years—and in the French Revolution the crowd in the streets spoke to one another with that strange, today largely unknown instrument known as the human voice.”

Is there something weaker than straw? I am honestly flabbergasted that someone as bright as Gladwell wrote these words. NOBODY IS CLAIMING THAT SOCIAL MEDIA INVENTED SOCIAL PROTESTS. STOP ARGUING WITH A CLAIM NOBODY ON THE PLANET HAS EVER ONCE MADE. This is like saying, “People got from one place to another before cars. Our ancestors who crossed the Bering Straight had nothing but their own two feet! So who gives a shit about a cars?” Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while calling Klondike 5-3226…

Monday Medley

What we read while asking and telling like crazy…

Monday Medley

What we read while appreciating the human element…


  • Two games that are, indeed, all about corners — Monopoly and The Wiretogether at last.

The Social Network: What’s Your Status?

There is a scene about midway through The Social Network, the new David Fincher movie about Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook, in which Zuckerberg and his business partner, Eduardo Saverin, meet with Sean Parker, the celebrity Internet entrepreneur and co-founder of Napster. The scene takes place in the spring of 2004, when thefacebook.com had been out long enough for people to realize it was big, but not long enough for anyone to grasp how big. After many rounds of Appletinis and much discussion of how the Internet business world operates, Parker (played by Justin Timberlake) leaves, but before he goes he imparts some advice to his younger colleagues: “Drop the ‘the.’ It’s cleaner.”

This is a nifty bit of storytelling, in which a magnetic personality with only a little bit of substantive input manages to charm the Internet’s Next Big Thing with a beautiful grasp of marketing.

Except it’s not really accurate. Facebook was initially known as The Facebook because the rights to “www.facebook.com” were already owned, and Facebook wouldn’t actually be able to purchase the rights to the cleaner domain until the summer of 2005.

But, as I said, the scene makes for good storytelling, and that’s really what Fincher and Aaron Sorkin, the film’s screenwriter, are after with the movie. Continue reading

Whose Ties Are You Calling “Weak”?

In this week’s New Yorker, the estimable Malcolm Gladwell takes, among other things, umbrage at the idea that tools of social media, like Twitter and Facebook, can be used for social activism. This idea has been popular for over a year now, dating back at least to the so-called “Twitter Revolution” in Moldova last year, as well as the site’s role in Iran’s 2009 elections. Gladwell, however, insists the “weak ties” promoted by these sites can never effect real social change. He compares it to the civil rights activism of the 1960s, in which “participants were far more likely than dropouts to have close friends who were also going” down South. This kind of activism—what Gladwell calls “high-risk activism”—is about strong ties.

As usual, Gladwell’s piece is brilliantly written and very compelling, but I’m afraid he falls into the same trap that many critics of modern social media are stuck in: this false dichotomy between “strong” and “weak” ties. It is indeed true that Facebook and Twitter are not built to maintain “strong ties” (like the ties between the four Greensboro students who began the Woolworth’s sit-ins, who were roommates). In fact, Gladwell provides as good a description of the uses of these sites as I’ve seen: Continue reading

Aught Lang Syne: What Josh Is Looking Forward To Next Decade

In a three part conclusion to Aught Lang Syne, we at NPI turn our attention away from the past and towards the future. Josh presents what he’s looking forward to in the Teens. Tim and John S’s posts on the matter will follow this afternoon.

In the Teens, I am looking forward to…


…The Next Film that Charlie Kaufman Writes and Directs: Charlie Kaufman (who looks kind of like Malcolm Gladwell, doesn’t he?) wrote arguably the best film of the Aughts, despite what John S doesn’t have to say. Being John Malkovich, a great film too, just missed the Aughts, and he wrote the screenplay for Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, one of the better films of the Aughts. And, Adaptation ain’t too shabby either. Wired has rightly pegged Kaufman as Hollywood’s brainiest screenwriter, and the themes and developments in his movies force you to consider and reconsider psychological and cognitive scientific assumptions. And, he seems to have a knack for generating excellent acting performances (see Sam Rockwell in Confessions, Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine, and Catherine Keener in Being John Malkovich, among others).   Kaufman wrote one film this decade—Synecdoche, NYwhich tried very hard to be groundbreaking and innovative but unfortunately bordered on incomprehensibility. But, Kaufman is too talented not to try again and it may just result in one of the best movies of the Teens.

…Whether Lacrosse Becomes a Major Sport: I’m finally reading The Tipping Point, which has gotten me thinking about what’s going to tip in a variety of domains. Of course, much of tipping is due to luck—though not arbitrary luck—which is why I’m so intrigued about whether lacrosse is going to become a major sport. Bill Simmons implies that it is going to tip soon, largely because it’s a safer sport than football. If it does, this would be the first time a sport—not initially major—has became a major sport in a VERY long time, arguably since basketball in the 1950s. Although, I sincerely hope it doesn’t come at the expense of football, which has become in recent years, unquestionably, my favorite sport to watch.
Continue reading