Pop sociologist Gladwell made it into our readings today as he wrote a relevant piece in the New Yorker in 2010, Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted. It stirred an engaging discussion around some of his key points -mainly that platforms of social media are built around weak ties, but these ties don’t convert to high-risk activism. While there are criticisms of his argument, his article is worth bookmarking as he cleverly weaves in the evolution of media, networking, small world, organizational hierarchies, open models, and he even threw Shirky in there. I’ve always enjoyed Gladwell’s writing because he brings academic thinking into the mainstream… (let’s face it, people don’t go poking around sociology journals or critical thinking textbooks on the weekend).
Mark Granovetter’s weak tie theory keeps sneaking up on us. I think Gladwell does credit weak ties for being actors in the mix, but I think they are more than that. Twitter’s ability to enable and manifest weak ties is game-changing (stealing phrase from Kate). Weak ties echo the cause and the movement; they are critical nodes that help source more evangelists; they spread the message to other social circles who may not have received the information otherwise; they are delicate and vital veins that support the movement.