Will the Revolution be Tweeted?

14 March 2011

Written by: Sofia Monkiewicz

In an influential article in The New Yorker entitled, ‘Small Change: Why the Revolution will not be Tweeted’, Malcolm Gladwell argues that, far from supporting social movements and social change, social media may actually undermine them.

Social media creates weak ties, and can contribute to ‘networked authoritarianism’ just as much as to progressive social change, Gladwell says.

In contrast, Clay Shirky, Professor of New Media at New York University, argues that social media can be used as a critical tool for the sharing of information and enhanced social engagement and mobilisation, empowering ‘loosely coordinated publics to demand change’. He points to the role of social media in recent revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

So who is right?

Decide for yourself at a Monash University seminar, where a panel of experts will debate these views and discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with the use of social media to promote and protect human rights.

The panel will include Professor Sarah Joseph, director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law; Simon Sheikh, national director of GetUp!; Jonathan Green, editor of ABC’s The Drum and Honorary Associate of La Trobe’s Journalism program; and Alex Pagliaro, refugee campaign co-ordinator of Amnesty International Australia.

The seminar will take place from 12.30pm-2.30pm on Tuesday 5 April at Monash University Law Chambers, 472 Bourke St Melbourne.

To attend, RSVP by 28 March to castan.centre@monash.edu or call (03) 9905 3327. Entry by gold coin donation.