The “Technology” Behind Social Networks

In Gladwell’s Small Change, the author talks about the pros and cons of social media networks and uses them to point out why a revolution could never be carried out based on a network. This reminded me of the passage in The Truth of Fact. The Truth of Feeling where Ted Chiang compares language to technology, and states that language in itself is actually a type of technology. Following this trend, social media networks would be a progression of language, for it is a new method of communication. Gladwell goes on to explain the reason behind the failure of social networks when it comes to something like a revolution: a lack of hierarchy, and this is where the two authors’ opinions are split. Chiang makes the statement that, “We became cognitive cyborgs as soon as we became fluent readers, and the consequences of that were profound.” The fact that Chiang says we can become cyborgs proves that he believes in a sort of internet hierarchy where people who post, blog, or are very involved in networking hold the highest position. That makes sense, because if language is in fact technology, people are affected by it, and in order for people to be affected by it, it has to be available. Those who make it available, therefore, have control over how the readers are affected. In this way, a hierarchy does indeed exist when it comes to social networks. However, going back to Gladwell’s point, it would be nearly impossible to start of revolution through it, regardless of whether or not a hierarchy exists because there exists no authoritative, credible figure. As a result, it would be very difficult to unite a mass amount of people under a single cause because there would be too many differing opinions on the subject.

One thought on “The “Technology” Behind Social Networks”

  1. I agree that hierarchies can arise from social networks. In my experience this typically happens when certain members contribute responses more frequently, or more intelligently. As a result, these members of the community become more respected by the others. This happened on the GT18 facebook page during the spring and summer, certain people had got a reputation for being helpful, or funny, and as a result their name became recognizable over the thousands of others and they had some minor control over things.

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