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Gladwell night at Digital Surrey: social media versus social change

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Malcolm Gladwell wrote in the New Yorker last October that Twitter, Facebook etc weren’t worth much when it comes to achieving social change:

“Social media can’t provide what social change has always required.”

Many disagreed, yet Gladwell, in a subsequent interview, was unrepentant:

“I mean, in cases where there are no tools of communication, people still get together. So I don’t see that as being… in looking at history, I don’t see the absence of efficient tools of communication as being a limiting factor on the ability of people to socially organize.”

Of course Gladwell is hung up with the big stuff. Revolutions. An end to racial segregation. But what about other worthy causes one category below “overthrowing evil dictators” in the rank of global momentousness?

Is social media an effective tool for charities, campaign groups and anyone else with a cause? If so, how does one go about using social media as part of an effective campaign?

This is the question I hope to answer, with the aid of willing volunteers involved with social causes and social media, at Digital Surrey in January.

Have you achieved anything socially worthy through social media? Have you tried but failed to get a message out? If you want to be involved in a panel session with a short talk about your direct experiences, please get in touch via Twitter (@JamesFirth) or email

The exact format, date and location are still TBD but it will probably be Thursday 19th or 26th January in the Guildford/Farnham area.

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