“The evangelists of social media don’t understand this distinction [between personal risk undertaken for social change and no-risk efforts]; they seem to believe that a Facebook friend is the same as a real friend and that signing up for a donor registry in Silicon Valley today is activism in the same sense as sitting at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro in 1960.”—
Ok, some more on why I think Gladwell, though he brings up a few great points, misses the mark overall.
The conflation here seems actually to be on his part. He seems to confuse activism with risk. Most efforts toward social change don’t involve immediate risk to person or wallet.
Effectively saying that a sit-in is the only important form of social activism is narrow-minded and naïve. Activists online and off- risk speaking out. Speaking out can be dangerous. Whether you’re doing it into a bullhorn at a rally or on your Facebook page, there can be consequences both tangible and non-. Does he think activists that have spoken out online haven’t been targeted personally just like activists who speak out in newspapers, pamphlets and on street corners? Give me a break.
Sometimes a social movement leads to rallies, sit-ins and demonstrations. Sometimes a social movement stays in living rooms and slowly results in a general change in thinking. Whatever path is taken, whether communication about the issue happens in person or online is irrelevant.
“In contrast to groups like the Tea Party, the crowd at Maker Faire is diverse, includes children and adults of all ages, and never finds itself in conflict with other groups based on identity or politics. More importantly, the jobs that many of us have in 2030 will be determined by young people who attended a Maker Faire, in industries that they’ve created. There is no other political movement in America today with a credible claim at creating the jobs of the future.”—
Hot damn. Anil Dash hands Malcolm Gladwell a scotch and says, “Sit down, old man.”
“We have a moral obligation to be precise about what the problems in American education are—like subpar schools for poor and minority children—and to resist heroic ideas about what would solve them, if those ideas don’t demonstrably do that.”—Schoolwork, by Nicholas Lemann
“Think of the internet like an epic cocktail party, filled with chattering 24/7 conversations. Our goal shouldn’t be to ignore everything beyond earshot – that would inhibit our creativity, and keep us trapped in a very narrow world. Instead, we should keep on searching for those smart voices, so that we can remix the right data inside our head.”—Are Distractible People More Creative? | Wired Science | Wired.com
“What did I think about the decision to construct a ‘mosque’ this close to ground zero? I thought it was a no-brainer. Of course it should be built there. I sometimes wonder if those people fighting so passionately against Park51 can fathom the diversity of those who died at ground zero. Do we think no Muslims died in the towers? My husband, Eddie Torres, killed on his second day of work at Cantor Fitzgerald while I was pregnant with our first child, was a dark-skinned Latino, often mistaken for Pakistani, who came here illegally from Colombia. How did ‘9/11 victim’ become sloppy shorthand for ‘white Christian’?”—9/11 widow Alissa Torres (via greaterthanlapsed)
“Some of the best business advice I’ve ever received came from small-scale, creative entrepreneurs who approach business the way they approach the crafty side of their work, with humility, creativity and the heart of a born teacher. I’d love to see more of that co-operative ethic & mutual support in the business world writ large.”—Lauren Bacon | BCBusiness
What I find most interesting about this article is the undertone of “the horror!”. I think the really meaty story is that the subscription-only online version receives two million hits a month. That makes me think people really do value the OED.
And also? The making of the first edition, in the 19th Century, was an astonishing feat of crowdsourcing.