As some of you might remember, the use of social media in organizing the protests in the Middle East was sort of a thing. No one really talked about it, thought about its implications, or even went so far as to credit the success of protests in places like Egypt, with its use… oh, wait–they did! And it was warranted, during the Arab spring, social media proved to be a highly effective tool for social mobilization. But, as Clay Shirky, Evegny Morozov, and Mathew Ingram would like to remind you–this is not always the case. And, more importantly: we should all stop pretending like it is. These protests and movements would have happened eventually. Even if the Internet didn’t exist. Incredible right?
There’s a reason that these events would have happened eventually and it has something to do with something called the “public sphere.” Shirky makes a reference to this in his article and he claims that without a strong public sphere, positive change won’t occur. Now, in his article and up until this point in the post, the focus has been on the use of social media in developing this sphere. HOWEVER, it’s not just the use of media or technology that is important–to Shirky’s point–it’s the conversation that’s occurring in this sphere. Specifically, what are people talking about? What are they using to express themselves? How are they drawing the line between the public and private (and how is that a reflection of their cultural identity)? How are these elements all coming together and what are the implications?
So that’s the purpose of this blog. To document and discuss all of these really fascinating questions. Ultimately, this will involve articles about social media, “traditional media,” art, music and a multitude of other things (hopefully not too many though) that other people, outside of myself, will find interesting.
[image via The Atlantic]