So it seems that Malcolm Gladwell is wading in to some media ecology questions too. I guess we can all quit now.
Here's what he had to say in an online Q&A over at The New Yorker.
On the Internet’s transience:
The essential fact of the internet is that nothing is permanent. AOL was once the king of online—remember? I doubt that anything that is done electronically will facilitate social activism all that much—at least not unless you’ve put a real world structure in place first.
On technology’s impotence:
This is what drives me crazy about the digerati. They refuse to accept the fact that there is a class of social problems for which there is no technological solution. Look. Technology is going to solve the energy problem. I’m convinced of it. Technology is going to give me a computer in ten years time that will fly me to the moon. Technology is going to build a car that goes 100 miles to the gallon. But technology does not and cannot change the underlying dynamics of “human” problems: it doesn’t make it easier to love or motivate or dream or convince.
On using Twitter to motivate social activism:
The issue isn’t informing people. It’s organizing people. Twitter is great at the first. But not so great at the second—and Dr. King and his counterparts needed organizations, not communications tools. Remember in the 1960’s you could reliably reach upwards of 95 percent of the black community in urban areas in the South through the church. And there you had their undivided attention for an hour! Who needs Twitter when you have sermons and regular prayer meetings?