Friday, July 03, 2015

Late night thoughts on listening to Woody Guthrie


Researching yesterday's post about activist musicians putting their money where their mouth is - or rather not putting it where their mouth is in the case of some celebrities - led me to an article in Dissent magazine by Evgeny Morozov, a former Google fellow at Georgetown University. Here is a short extract from his thoughtful analysis of the social media revolution:
... Harmless activism wasn’t very productive either: what do 100 million people invited to join the Facebook group “100 Million Facebook members for Democracy in Iran ” expect to get out of their membership? Is it just a gigantic exercise in collective  transcontinental wishful thinking? Do they really expect that their “slacktivism” — a catchy new word that describes such feel-good but useless Internet activism — would have some impact? ? Slacktivists may successfully grapple with corporate PR outfits that have increasingly grown fond of polluting and astroturfing cyberspace; whether they will be able to topple authoritarian governments is less obvious
Evgeny Morozov wrote that in 2009, and since then 'slacktivism' has spawned a less benign form of feel-good but useless activism. This is 'click bait slacktivism'; which generates maximum personal publicity for the activist in return for minimum personal sacrifice. The Smithsonian Folkways album of Classic Protest Songs seen above includes Woody Guthrie's song Jesus Christ.

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