Twitter, Facebook, and social activism: newyorker.com

Jon Breschak, the PhD student working with me, is a voracious reader of both academic works and more popular media interpretations of social science and networks. Consider this recent e-mail...

You may already be aware if you have read any of Gladwell's material (Blink, Outliers, etc.) that an underlying theme he walks around without ever robustly addressing are the roles of networks. I was always so curious how long before his network thinking evolved, as many who look at social issues seem to, to a point in which their own work delivers them directly to the social network literature. In this piece the title makes the subject matter appear obvious, but Gladwell actually brings in Granovetter, and then quite a bit about the role of strong and weak ties, and how context is what makes social media of importance or not.

Gladwell's evolution aside, the article delves into how social networking (i.e., facebook and twitter) yield social ties that is fundamentally different than the ties one might have with close friends (i.e., weak versus strong ties). These different ties are good at doing different things. For those who pay attention to the social science literature, this isn't particularly new, but (well how many actually do that?)...


Read the full New Yorker article Jon reviews

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