Is the Internet Revolution Really Unprecedented?

New movements that can bring about global social change will still require people who interact with each other regularly, and trust and depend on each other in somewhat dense networks. Or only hope is if those networks span the globe in a tightly-knit, broad web of activity, interaction, personalization. Real change will come only if we can make friends we care about everywhere and we make bridge ties that cover the world in a web of common humanity that is bigger and more powerful than a handful of corporations and the corrupt, self-perpetuating class of politicians. [...] I say, bring on the hive mind, please let it be global in scale as nothing less will do, and let Facebook and Twitter lead the way. #

But is this global hive mind really emerging? Despite great efforts such as Global Voices, it doesn’t seem as if national media spheres were truly converging. I recently did a series of interviews for an upcoming publication, and inspired by Ala’a comment I also asked about the chances for a social media-enabled pan-Africanism. While most interviewees had high hopes, the status quo seems less promising. I’ll quote the great Ethan Zuckerman: #

I think that’s wildly optimistic. I see very little conversation outside of individual regions, with the exception of a few cross-continent ties (Kenya to Ghana, for instance.) It’s rare to see dialog between Anglophone and Francophone speakers, for instance, and the conceptual barrier that separates sub-Saharan and Northern Africa remains firmly in place in a digital age. I’d love to see digital media emerge into regional media, and will wait to see that before I indulge in Nkrumist fantasies. #

Elizabeth L. Eisenstein: The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge University Press, 2005. Amazon. #