Revolution in the Digital Age

Oct 03 2010 Published by under Blogging, politics

Check out this article at the New Yorker. Read it all the way through. It will be worth your while. [via Slashdot]

The author challenges the assertion that social media can foment and hasten social and political change in a society. The author contrasts the loose ties of “networks,” with the structure of “hierarchical organizations” and examines how each of these function to illustrate his point. He also cites examples from American history – the fight against segregation, and the movement to end the Vietnam War. Segregation was not defeated because people got together to merely say it is wrong. They undertook boycotts, sit-ins, and protest marches. The Vietnam War did not end because millions of people just professed the belief that it should. Organized groups of people stopped it. Large chunks of the population mobilized to take action against a government that failed to listen to the will of the governed.

I agree that social media in-and-of-itself does not represent an upgrade in the tools of political activists. I will add that social media hampers not only total upheaval, but even intermediate levels of change. It preserves status quo. Real change in a society’s power structure requires that at some point individuals have to take action directed against those who hold power. People need to organize and establish a real-world physical presence in order to even contemplate this possibility.

Social media accomplishes zero in the area of organized action. There is nothing active about it. It keeps people locked at the level of merely expressing opinion, which others ‘like’ and ‘re-tweet,’ but no one ever ventures out from behind the computer to take real action. Social media allows people to express an opinion, and build agreement around that opinion, but there is no link to click that attacks the system. It can create consensus, and bring together like-minded individuals, but it offers nothing in the way of tangible action. While social media may give a voice to the oppressed, that voice grows hoarse if the oppressed cannot take action against their oppressors.

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One Task at a Time

Aug 22 2010 Published by under Blogging

Found this great little article about how to maintain in-the-moment focus on individual tasks in order to be a more prolific blogger. [by way of my BloggingPro feed.]

The author describes bloggers who face mounting to-do lists associated with their blogging projects, who must juggle all these tasks with the many responsibilities from their lives beyond blogging. He outlines a plan for “unitasking” – as opposed to multitasking – in the face of so many tasks. A blogger can be overwhelmed by the many tasks required to complete each post and try to tackle them all at once. The author suggests you focus on one task at a time, rather than spread yourself out too thin by trying to touch on several projects simultaneously. Multitasking is Fool’s Gold – on the surface it seems we can complete more work if we tackle our tasks concurrently, but what really happens is we delay completion of each task, and in turn, the larger projects which are they are a part of.

This may seem obvious to some, but the execution of this simple approach to getting work done is difficult in practice for many people. Many of us find it hard to concentrate on any one task long enough to complete it, when we face the totality of all the separate steps related to the projects we juggle. Seeing the trees for the forest, so to speak. Sometimes just a short, simple reminder is enough to keep us focused. The author’s advice in this article is aimed at bloggers, and offers a prescription to balance workflow with life and not become overwhelmed. It also made me think about how the inability to focus on one task at a time affects other aspects of our lives.

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