[Humanist] 26.405 weak ties of social media

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Oct 22 08:50:04 CEST 2012

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 405.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2012 13:38:08 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: the weak ties of social media

David Runiman, in "Stiffed", his London Review of Books assessment of 
Janet Byrne's The Occupy Handbook, contrasts the involvement of those
who are physically present at a protest (such as Occupy Wall Street) and
the virtual involvement of those others who are involved only online. He
asks to what degree the online activists "really represent like-minded 
people who have better things to do than protest themselves" and 

> Social networks have made it much easier for individuals to form
> shallow connections of shared concern and vicarious experience.
> Occupy Wall Street has taken advantage of this on websites designed
> to tap into the affinity between the life stories of the protesters –
> ordinary people at the end of their tether – and everyone else. At
> the same time, the protesters talk about their extraordinary
> experiences at the protests and the bonds they have formed with
> people they might once have believed they had little in common with:
> the homeless, the destitute, the afflicted. This is the result of
> unexpected face to face encounters. Strange things happen when people
> talk to each other. But that experience is emphatically not being
> shared by anyone who is Occupying Wall Street from the comfort of
> their own homes. There are really two different kinds of link being
> forged here: the transformative interactions of those on the ground
> and the fleeting connection being made with those looking in. The
> first have almost nothing in common with the second. Direct democracy
> and representative democracy remain poles apart.

Comments? The whole article may be read at 


Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Professor, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics,
University of Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist
(www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/

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