Week 14

 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?


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3 Responses to Week 14

  1. Sophia Lief says:

    Your argument really stands out across each section of your blog post, and you do a good job at relaying the main points of each reading. In answer to your question, having the government catch on to social media to the point that they are equal with its citizens could bring good and bad to the specific community.
    If governments learn and understand how and why their citizens are using social media/the Internet the ways that they are, they too can jump on trends and help jumpstart certain projects and policies that they see applicable to this realm. Also, they could use these tools as a way to promote certain messages in a more direct manner than they otherwise could. However, some negative consequences could rise from this level of equality in terms of understanding the power behind social media. Reaching this level of knowledge could allow government officials to tap into the minds and live of its citizens as they plan a revolution/revolt of some sort. In a way, it would not be too much of a reach to assume that governments would find a way to use the information they gained from social media accounts against their own people in order to self-benefit. While this may seem pessimistic, it is definitely a possibility to consider.
    I think that citizens would have trouble resorting to other tools, seeing as these would seem “outdated” given that social media has taken the world by storm. Transitioning backwards could create a sense of chaos and confusion that citizens would be thrown off by. While it is likely that new tools would be created and developed in order to make up for this loss, there is great possibility that older technologies/tools for communicating would be brought back to the forefront.

  2. janesugi says:

    Governments are trying to catch onto the social media trend as it is evolving, and their goal is to evolve and educate themselves as a faster rate than their citizens so that they can prevent these revolutions and movements from arising. The extent to which this may occur is uncertain because if we look at past revolutions and the government’s role, it is as if we are looking at a guessing game or a game of chess. On both sides, the activists/public and the government, each group is trying to read into the minds of the other and counterbalance/counterattack what they think is the best move or what is the right course of action. With the government reaching the same level of knowledge as its citizens, we will probably see more filters and restrictions as consequences.

    We have seen social media evolve rather quickly over the past few years, but it is hard to say what other tools people can resort to. My best guess, is that people will use the same new communicative tools, as well as some of the older ones, that we have and learn how to use them more effectively.

  3. christinab3 says:

    As social media continues to emerge as a prominent tool in political and social movements, governments are attempting to become equally, if not more, knowledgeable about social media than their citizens. If they can get one step ahead of their citizens, then they will have the knowledge and tools to see a revolution emerging and stop it before it can become a threat. If governments do become as knowledgeable as their citizens, citizens might be forced to use other tools. I do not think they will have a problem finding other means to organize and communicate with one another (since social movements have been occurring long before social media even existed). Citizens’ main challenge will be finding another way to spread the word (and pictures/videos/other information) to countries outside of their own. Spreading awareness to the West might become more of an issue without social media. Overall, however, a governments’ knowledge of social media might slow down or redirect the process by which a movement operates, but I do not think it will be able to stop the movement entirely.

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