I am a big Frank Rich fan. I look forward to reading his essays at the New York Times every weekend. But this Sunday I think he went a bit off the rails, criticizing those who attribute social media services with having a role in advancing political change. Not only does he complain that people are giving too much attention and credit to Twitter and Facebook he also aligns himself with the curmudgeonly Malcolm Gladwell who continues his tortured arguments against social media cheering with another post on the New Yorker website.
I offer David Weinberger’s blog post to provide a more thorough analysis and counter argument to Gladwell’s supercilious stance than I ever could. But I thought it strange that in the same New York Times edition as Rich’s column there is an article detailing how a Facebook page documented the brutal police beating death of a young Alexandria businessman that became a community of Egyptian dissidents. The page evolved into a forum for organizing the protests in Egypt. Maybe Frank should read more of his own publication instead of the New Yorker (I confess, that I am a subscriber myself).
What do you think? Is social media playing an important role in stirring political and social change?
Update: The Google marketing executive Wael Ghonin recently released from custody and widely attributed with having helped fuel the peaceful revolt in Egypt, thanks Facebook as a platform for organizing. But pundits like Gladwell and Rich know better from their distant perches.