|By Bob Gourley||
|January 2, 2013 10:57 PM EST||
On Twitter, Mike Olson of Cloudera asked me and Alex Olesker what we thought about the use of social media in the latest dustup between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. He linked me to an article taking a broader look at the role of social media in terrorism and extremism. The following is some thoughts on how to think about the relationship of social media to social movements, extremist and benign. Tech audiences with a practical interest in tech and social movements can benefit from considering some theoretical perspectives not usually seen in most tech conversations.
2013 will likely see much more attention on information technology and social movements. In 2011, the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street spurred debate about the tactical applications of social media, not all of it productive. On one hand, there was a “gee whiz” tone to much of the coverage that ignored other important dynamics. In October, Thomas Frank wrote a biting article about how journalists and academics, infatuated with the idea that OWS represented a radically new (and superior) form of social movement, ignored the substantial and sometimes self-imposed barriers to its success. The same can probably be said of coverage of the Arab Spring, much of it based on a simplistic image of kids with MacBooks and iPhones toppling autocrats. On the other hand, Malcolm Gladwell and others denied the very real differences between social movements 1.0 and 2.0. Particularly useless was Gladwell’s presumption that analog-era activism was somehow more authentic and powerful than IT-mediated activism. So where to go from here?
First, social media can’t be analyzed with the presumption that social media is somehow separate from the overall web of social conflict. Rather, we should move forward with the assumption that we have one reality, composed of both organic and technological layers. Cyberspace is a sociotechnical system, which as CTOVision contributor Sean Lawson explains can be understood as follows:
[Sociotechnical systems] are large, complex systems in which the lines between the social and the technological, the human and the machine are increasingly blurry. As the passage implies, even something as seemingly simple as an airplane flying in the sky is actually just one part of a large sociotechnical system composed of various human and machine elements, from the pilot and airplane to a series of airports, communication and navigation systems, bureaucracies, regulations, rules and norms of flight, and more.
With the Arab Spring “twitter revolutions” we can see that human and machine elements and organizations all meaningfully combined to produce powerful and fundamentally emergent movements. Social media may not have been a primary cause but it also very much defined the realm of possibility for social action. Technology isn’t neutral, and certain technologies are more conducive to decentralized movements. Information age social networks have reduced transaction costs in a way earlier communications have not. There’s also a collaborative aspect that Alexis Madrigal covered in his post about the “APIs” of Occupy Wall Street.
The composition of sociotechnical systems also constantly shifts due to shifts in norms, regulations, rules, technological shifts, and bureaucratic hierarchies. Cyberspace may have some essential characteristics rooted in its function as a zone of machine-mediated communication, but it is also a designed environment with a constantly shifting landscape. Politics and networks of social capital are a part of that landscape, and this certainly includes extremist groups.
We can understand jihadi social media usage as being part of an overall assemblage of techniques, key personnel, and resources that constitutes a complex structure that can be tapped on by insurgents looking to advance their instrumental ends and communicate and discourse with an extended community of ideological fellow travelers. Israeli researcher Dima Adamsky argued in 2009 that, lacking the war colleges, doctrinal institutions, or military service journals of the West, jihadis debate theories of strategy evolve on web forums and zines. It’s still unclear how social media precisely fits into the radicalization process, despite the tendency of Western police departments to equate possession of jihadi media with radical intent. We’re on more solid ground in terms of tactical planning when we look at non-jihadi international social movements’ usage of twitter as a medium for directing protests and outsmarting police crowd control methods. Finally, there’s always the use of social media as a rapid-fire propaganda weapon that can influence external audiences and regulate and stimulate domestic audiences.
Police researcher John P. Sullivan has also written about how Mexican drug cartels have used social media to spread “narcocultura” in Mexican public life. When combined with coercive actions, narco-glorifying folk songs, provision of services, and murals, social media becomes a powerful means of making the violent image of the Mexican drug cartels part of everyday life. Jihadi groups have arguably not attained a similar level of cultural penetration, but Daveed Garteinstein-Ross and other counterterrorism experts have written about the ways in which jihadi culture–online and offline–can create a unique lifeworld for those who feel left out of secular culture.
Yet there’s a risk in looking at technology without the political and operational considerations. Terrorist organizations are clandestine in nature and practice tradecraft that limits their exposure to Western intelligence organizations. Thus assuming that covert networks function in the same way as social movements or Facebook friend groups is of limited utility. Taking down an extremist site is not equivalent to Second, there’s often a harmful tendency in tech analysis to place social media use as the dominant element of a social conflict. Reporters salivated over the IDF and Hamas Twitter-fighting each other and missed the centrality of actual combat to the outcome of the short Gaza conflict. At the end of the day, as Rear Admiral J.C. Wylie wrote, the “man on the scene with the gun” decides the war, not the kid with the iPhone.
A balanced understanding of the ways social media is vehicle for and a shaper of contentious political movements will be a net benefit to CTOs, tech reporters, and technologically-minded national security analysts. Watch this space for more on this subject in the future.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
Mar. 29, 2017 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 15,064
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
Mar. 29, 2017 03:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,119
My team embarked on building a data lake for our sales and marketing data to better understand customer journeys. This required building a hybrid data pipeline to connect our cloud CRM with the new Hadoop Data Lake. One challenge is that IT was not in a position to provide support until we proved value and marketing did not have the experience, so we embarked on the journey ourselves within the product marketing team for our line of business within Progress. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Sum...
Mar. 29, 2017 03:30 AM EDT Reads: 3,200
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
Mar. 29, 2017 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 6,056
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
Mar. 29, 2017 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,473
What sort of WebRTC based applications can we expect to see over the next year and beyond? One way to predict development trends is to see what sorts of applications startups are building. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arin Sime, founder of WebRTC.ventures, will discuss the current and likely future trends in WebRTC application development based on real requests for custom applications from real customers, as well as other public sources of information,
Mar. 29, 2017 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,091
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
Mar. 28, 2017 11:15 PM EDT Reads: 3,464
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, will discuss some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and relate how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material will be delivered i...
Mar. 28, 2017 09:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,228
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Mar. 28, 2017 09:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,849
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
Mar. 28, 2017 08:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,346
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, will provide a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services ...
Mar. 28, 2017 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,513
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), will provide an overview of various initiatives to certifiy the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldw...
Mar. 28, 2017 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 861
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
Mar. 28, 2017 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,188
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Mar. 28, 2017 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 9,684
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
Mar. 28, 2017 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,148
SYS-CON Events announced today that Technologic Systems Inc., an embedded systems solutions company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Technologic Systems is an embedded systems company with headquarters in Fountain Hills, Arizona. They have been in business for 32 years, helping more than 8,000 OEM customers and building over a hundred COTS products that have never been discontinued. Technologic Systems’ pr...
Mar. 28, 2017 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 3,723
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
Mar. 28, 2017 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,223
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Mar. 28, 2017 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 14,290
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
Mar. 28, 2017 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,676
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
Mar. 28, 2017 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 3,187