Both Cohn and Morozov’s pieces point out not only the shift in government’s usage of technology, but also how technology as a whole may not be the ultimate ‘fix’ societal problems. What defines ‘success’ or ‘legitimacy’ of a revolution? And if governments are inevitably going to know how to play the game of social media just as well as activists and bloggers, people who are the central motivating individuals in the setting of a revolution, is social media going to be a passing fad? Although I don’t think social media is going to diminish in power as an instrument used for communication and spreading awareness, we might need to rethink overall if technology is the best possible solution to problems.
Cohn focuses on the transition of the U.S. State Department from using traditional websites to making their presence on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Abandoning further work on America.gov, the State Department asserts that when half the world is under 30, it needs to start connecting more with youth generations using more dynamic methods. Moreover, after witnessing the happenings of Egypt, it realized the need for governmental bodies to communicate better with the masses to know earlier of any planned events.
Morozov’s ‘The Wicked Fix’ focuses moreso on the supposed functions of technologies in general. He states that “as the Internt makes technological fixes cheaper, the temptation to apply them even more aggressively and indsicriminately also grows” (p.303). Living in a modern society where the Internet has sped up efficiency of daily transactions, we often overestimate the promises that Internet could bring. Morozov critiques that policymakers should not believe there is a simple technological fix to the large-scale problems. Thus, instead of being cyber-utopians, we need to be cyber-realists who focus on the policies at hand and searching for more grounded solutions other than the technological fix.
Social media doesn’t seem to be a fad that will pass; it has become a phenomenon that has revolutionized ways of communication. It will continue to play a role in spreading awareness to the public and coordinating actions. However, we cannot depend on technology to do everything in times of trouble, especially when we don’t know the entirety of it capabilities yet.
If governments as knowledgable as citizens on social media, what will be the consequences? What other tools will citizens resort to?