Making social media stick
Question: Through the effective use of online social media, a small group of political amateurs were able to organize and instigate street demonstrations across Egypt that now threaten to topple the Mubarak regime. How does their success change our notions of what leadership in the Internet age is all about?
For me, recent events in Egypt reinforce a lesson that I believe we have also begun to see evidence of in our national elections. Social media can contagiously motivate decisive, collective action over relatively short periods of time--types of action that may not have been humanly possible without the real-time, networked benefits of the Internet.
In that sense, the events in Egypt do demonstrate a new form of distributed leadership that was not possible ever before. But, that said, this evidence does not negate the basic tenets of more traditional forms of leadership. The challenge of these new forms of leadership becomes translating socially contagious, short-term zeal into a long-term commitment toward shared action. That type of long-term commitment requires more traditional forms of human organizing--organizations comprising more formal systems and structures, organizations that are subject to more of the traditional features and foibles of human leadership.
Posted by: paulgabraham | February 10, 2011 6:37 PM
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