Richard Grusin on Wed, 23 Feb 2011 20:55:16 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Twitter does not cause revolution, people do

Are people really still having this ridiculous argument?

All individual and collective action, revolutionary or otherwise, happens at a particular historical moment and is enabled (but not determined) by the potentialities (social, cultural, economic, human, technical, natural, affective, and so forth).  At this moment those potentialities include, but are not limited to, networked media (understood broadly to include television, print, etc.). To continue to argue over whether the ongoing revolutions in the Middle East and demonstrations in the US Midwest are "caused" by social media or by "the people" or "the masses" or "the desire/will for freedom" is to operate with an impoverished account of human agency.  

I have tried to address this in regard both to Egypt and to the shootings in Arizona, where the argument of individual vs. media agency took the same structural form.  Except that the position held now by many on the left that social media did not cause the revolutions in the Middle East is virtually identical to the position put forth by Sarah Palin on the cause of the Arizona shootings.

If we seriously want to understand what is going on in the world right now, we need to attend to all of the complex network of forces that are enabling these potentially world-changing events.

If you're interested, here are the blog posts I'm referring to:

On Feb 23, 2011, at 8:02 AM, David Golumbia wrote:

On Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 2:24 PM, Ivan Boothe <> wrote:
OK, this is getting annoying. No one's arguing that Twitter "causes" revolution. 

But I challenge this author or anyone else to find anyone above the level of Some Guy On the Internet arguing that Twitter "causes" revolution.

we are living in different worlds, then.

because i hear it up to a dozen times a day, from every direction, at every level of authority. 

"twitter revolution" was first uttered by clay shirky and jeff jarvis, neither one "Some Guy On the Internet." Shirky has changed his tune once he actually thought about it. jarvis meant a software revolution, but there's not much difference between a change in software and a change in government. apparently. 
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