Networked Creators

I had the rare privilege of being a guest lecturer at the University of Toronto today for Barry Wellman's Technology and Society class. Above all else, it was exciting (and nerve-wracking!) to be back at my alma mater on the other side of the classroom.

Covering content from one of two chapters I co-authored with Professor Wellman and Pew Internet's Lee Rainie from their upcoming book, Networked: The New Social Operating System, I spent time discussing what we like to call, "networked creators"- --the many non-credentialed amateurs who are now participating in the many arenas that were once limited to recognized and sanctioned experts. 

The internet, mobile, and social network revolution has ushered in a new generation of creators, blurring the lines between producers and consumers. As Douglas Rushkoff says, “The people have crashed the gates of professionalism, penetrating the formerly sacrosanct boundaries protecting elites of all industries from challenges from below”.

View the slides below for more...


Egypt: The First Internet Revolt?

This is a bit of a break from the usual whimiscal and light hearted posts that I seem to have been obsessed with lately, but Peace Magazine recently published an article that my mentor Barry Wellman, my colleague Xiaolin Zhuo, and I wrote about the revolts that rocked Egypt early this year and the role that information and communication technologies played. With no arrogance intended, I think it's an important read that takes a sobering look into the recent debate of social media's organizing capacity.

T-shirts for sale in Cairo commemorating the January 25, 2011 revolution. Photo by Zeynep Tufekci. Used by permission

“What brought Hosni Mubarak down was not Facebook and it was not Twitter. It was a million people in the streets, ready to die for what they believed in,” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently proclaimed.

Friedman appears to have had an either/or dichotomy in mind when assessing the Egyptian revolt that started in January 2011. That’s an oversimplification, ignoring not only the lack of opposition from the elites, military, and US government, but also the role of social media and the organized groups and informal networks that brought people to the streets. It’s clear that social media such as Facebook played important roles in transforming organized groups and informal networks, establishing external linkages, developing a sense of modernity and community, and drawing global attention. Their impact suggests that those concerned with the quest for democracy and peace should pay more attention to the explicit and implicit effects of these social media. Read the full article here.