Gladwell argues that social revolutions can only happen in real life, not through social networks in Twitter, Facebook, and social activism.
I’m not convinced one can compare the relatively small number of revolutions in the noughties with pre-social networking, pre-internet revolutions.
I also dislike his use of intuition pumps (“No one believes that the articulation of a coherent design philosophy is best handled by a sprawling, leaderless organizational system.”, “How do you make difficult choices about tactics or strategy or philosophical direction when everyone has an equal say?”). You can’t just say no one believes this, because I’m pretty sure that isn’t the case (oops, there I go doing the same thing). There is a slight smack of the myth of the CEO here as well.
It is all very well arguing that weak networks can only provide wider and speedier access to information and that this can never be a disciplined revolution and thus dismissing weak networks, but this begs the question of whether the only interesting change is revolutionary.
To my mind, the slower cultural changes are far more interesting and far-reaching. As I recall (caveats, etc) there wasn’t a particular moment when being gay was thrust upon the UK political scene, but the gradual erosion of homophobia in the general population is impressive.
Some counterpoint: the Staggers agrees with Gladwell, while Mark Seddon calls on politicians to use new media in an open, discursive manner.