Clay Shirky on How social media can make history

Here’s an interesting video about what social media can or perhaps could do. In it, Clay Shirky talks to in 2009 about the possibilities social media holds for political protest and participation. Four years later, does what he says still resonate?


1 thought on “Clay Shirky on How social media can make history

  1. I am inspired but somehow not wholly persuaded by Shirky’s belief in the transformative potential of social media and ICT’s. All the time I listen to this argument I ask the question what amounts to participation?
    Is it the Awaaz online petitions I just forwarded to stop elephant slaughter or some other atrocity? Is this not just another example of the ‘commodification of protest culture’? Chantal Mouffe on ‘agonistic democracy’ said that the internet and by extrapolation social media, has no role in the creation of a healthy (and in her view necessary) agonistic pluralism (adversaries sharing a common space) because we only buy-into the causes and values that support our world view. Instead it offers what Malcolm Gladwell refers to as ‘weak ties’. I am more inclined to the perspective that its the application and use to which social media platforms are engaged which is potentially transformative, and to the view that this is but one tool in the activists toolbox, not an end in itself. Technology does not create agency.

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