Tuesday, March 06, 2007

People of Earth...

Scott Karp asks us 'Who's right about the social media revolution - the people or the revolutionaries?'

I studied the patterns behind revolutions for a whole term in my final year at Cambridge. The moment of disconnect between the mass population and the self-appointed agents of wholesale change is a near-omnipresent stage in these sort of upheavals.

We all remember those 70s sci-fi scenarios that assumed there would be a fixed timetable for throwing all of our antique furniture on the bonfire. The commonest mistake of all would-be revolutionaries is to assume that they can and should pulverise all the useful manifestations of the ancien regime. Whether its starting point is the Communist Manifesto or the Cluetrain Manifesto, revolutionaries mental faculties become tend to become hijacked by a semi-autonomous discourse that impairs their ability to perceive balance.

When the people − in whose name they believe they are pursuing such an exciting vocation − begin to drag their feet cloddishly, the revolutionary cadre typically responds by upping its use of the terminology of violence and death. Change or die, becomes the pervasive mantra.

Yet for those of us who prefer their change to be a tad more focussed, the superimposition of new forms onto the old is necessarily a phenomenon in need of careful, case-by-case management.

Now I can't claim to be loyal, long-term eyeball of USA Today, but I have been similarly underwhelmed by the makeover recently imposed on Britain's own The Times. At the moment it looks like a bad case of someone got Wordpress for Christmas.

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