Channeling Sun Tzu, Not Orwell’s 1984

Sadness. Shock. Disbelief. These are the emotions I felt reading a recent report by the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College indicating the U.S. military's information operations (IO) and strategic communication efforts were bungled in the very places they were needed most to curb Islamist extremism. As I've blogged about before, it's mindboggling that the suggested reason is large contractors hoping to make an easy buck … [Read more...]

Following the Organizing Advice of Mao Tse-tung?

“The pen is mightier than the sword, and considerably easier to write with.” —Marty Feldman Did you know a '60s-era campaign organizing strategy inspired by Mao Tse-tung foreshadowed social media's power? From Richard Hofstadter's 1964 essay The Paranoid Style in American Politics: "In his recent book, How to Win an Election, Stephen C.  Shadegg [Barry Goldwater 's Campaign Advisor] cites a statement attributed to Mao Tse-tung: 'Give me just two or three men … [Read more...]

Video Clip of the Month: Drought & Filter Bubbles

With East Africa facing its worst drought in 60 years, I wince more than ever at a quote by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg: “A squirrel dying in your front yard may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” What Zuckerberg's assertion means on a societal level—such as during a regional famine overseas—is the topic of my August 2011 video clip of the month. It features Eli Pariser, author of The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is … [Read more...]

Social Media, Democracy & the Death of the ‘Big Lie’

I let out a huge sigh of relief after reading the results of a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey released today. It wasn't because the survey didn't find social media is isolating us inside digital bubbles. Rather, I was relieved because it didn't find social media polarizing perspectives and harming democracy. According to Pew's website: "We measured 'perspective taking,' or the ability of people to consider multiple points of view. There is no … [Read more...]

Egypt and the Rise of the Social Media ‘Swarm’

Last May I wrote that "we are on the verge of a massive shift in the way we communicate and inspire action." As I watch jubilant Egyptians in the video below celebrating the resignation of their 82-year-old former president, I think I can safely say that paradigm shift has arrived. The leaderless Revolution 2.0 in Egypt, and earlier in Tunisia, illustrate how powerfully social media can be used to galvanize real action in the real world. Social media contributed … [Read more...]

The Social Media Revolution Nobody Watched

"Huh?" I thought to myself as a Twitter retweet from @Galrahn flashed across my screen: "I just watched a government fall on Twitter while #CNN interviewed the Jeopardy host about a robot contestant." Then I saw another retweet from @pareen reading: "I am relying on someone live-tweeting al-Jazeera to keep up with Tunisia news. MSNBC reports that Martha Stewart's dog split her lip open." "Wow," I thought, "what is going on?" So I checked the Washington Post's web … [Read more...]

Social Media: Democracy’s Ruin or a Better Planet?

With summer over and more time to read in the rainy fall days ahead, I decided to finally buy The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change, a book by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine that I've been meaning to read since it came out in June. So I drove to the nearest Borders, but it didn’t have the book. Then I drove to Barnes & Nobles. It wasn’t there either. Then I remembered the words of Jacques Ellul in Propaganda: The Formation of … [Read more...]