Social Media for Social Change

Friday, February 28, 2014

Emily Parker, digital diplomacy adviser, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, and former State Department official, discusses her new book Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground (Sarah Crichton Books, 2014) and talks about how protesters and activists are using social media to combat repressive regimes around the world.



Emily Parker

Comments [8]

Brenda Steele from Scotland (near Inverness)

It is not just repressive regimes where social media and on-line are having an effect.

Come and take a look at the Scottish Independence debate. The entire media is on the No side including the BBC. We (the Nats) now WE know who our comrades are.

Go to (not .org) for a fairly comprehensive list of sites.

Mar. 03 2014 10:09 AM
Alan from New York

She must be annoyed with her editor: the book contains some sentences that don't begin with so.

Feb. 28 2014 04:02 PM
Rinaldo from NYC

The speaker and ostensibly her book, oversimplifies as does the Internet, often very complex political issues. The Tianamen Square "Massacre" is a case in point. I then led bicycle trips to rural China before and after the Tianamen event. Before Tianamen there were dramatic economic, social and even political improvements in the lives of the Chinese people. Big Brother still controlled and watched everyone. But Chairman Deng had installed the Two-Enterprise system that allowed individual peasants to sell their surplus agricultural products after they met their collective quotas. When I asked some peasants about their opinion of the student revolt at Tianaman Square shortly after it occurred, their response was "What Revolt?!", illustrating the government's control of the media. When I explained the nature of the revolt, the unanimous response of the assembled peasants was, "If we knew the government was threatened by students, we would fight to the death for our leaders with our pitchforks!" The reason: Chinese peasants never had it so good economically under the then current Chinese leadership that feared that the student revolt might cause the return of the chaos it experienced under Chairman Mao.The leaders over-reacted in dealing with the threat to stability by the students….. My fear is that the Internet;s penchant for communicating in tweets and twitter will oversimplify complex issues even more, precipitating bloody events before the aroused public even learns the complexity of the issues. I don't have an answer to the issue of quick information with its information deficit. But we need to understand them….

Feb. 28 2014 12:28 PM
Francis McInerney from Katonah, NY

Great show. Over the last 20 years I've written six books on how the falling cost of information progressively restructures industries and countries. Today these costs have fallen fast enough to unleash the Cloud -- universal access to unlimited computing at marginal (zero) cost.

The key Cloud number is the Rate of Cloud Inflation which is:

1. The number of devices and servers, increasing exponentially
2. Times the power of these devices, increasing exponentially
3. Times the power of the apps supported, increasing exponentially

If you try to think of this number today, next year, or five years from now it is immediately obvious that the idea that any human organization of any kind can outrun the Rate of Cloud Inflation is laughable on its face. Nokia got bagged, Dell is struggling, the GOP got nailed in the last election, and the idea that the Chinese Party cadres will be exceptions is just plain silly.

For us the foreign policy implications are huge. If the cadres are moving away from the Chinese people at the Rate of Cloud Inflation, and as the rate is measurable, we can calculate with reasonable accuracy the day when the center of "the center of all things" (what the word China means) gives way.

The industrial implications are equally huge. If the cadres must decelerate the Rate of Cloud Inflation in China for raisons d'état, they will cede enormous market advantages to others -- at the rate of Cloud Inflation, which means sooner than everyone thinks.

Feb. 28 2014 12:13 PM
Amy from Manhattan

The Occupy movement isn't totally dead, as a caller claimed. See for what they're doing lately. Maybe Brian's show could do a follow-up.

Feb. 28 2014 11:52 AM
John A

Double edged sword, yes. Communities are Also building on the Internet for: communism, fascism, creationism, climate denial, gun rights, drug abuse, self harm (cutting), satanism, etc. etc.

Feb. 28 2014 11:31 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

"Digital Diplomacy Advisor."
"Digital Prophet."
Digital Blls#!t.

Feb. 28 2014 11:28 AM
Jenna from UEs

So we've seen what social media can do in countries where people are willing to physically organize. But here in the US it doesn't work. With Occupy and SOPA we got a lot of talk and little physical effort. The Iraq war saw larger protests.

Feb. 28 2014 11:24 AM

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