Zeynep Tufekci, Sociology, in The Atlantic

In “Oral Culture, Literate Culture, Twitter Culture,” Alexis Madrigal, senior editor of the Atlantic, summarizes and reflects on a compelling new essay about shifting modes of communication by UMBC’s Zeynep Tufekci, assistant professor of sociology. “Social media may be a throwback to the oral cultures that preceded the printing press and education-aided diffusion of literacy,” notes Madrigal. It is this concept that Tufekci explores through a deconstruction of recent critical comments about Twitter by the New York Times’ Bill Keller. “What we are seeing with social media is the public sphere, hitherto dominated by written culture, has been more opened up to oral psychodynamics,” argues Tufekci, “And this is particularly difficult to deal with for intellectuals who rely on their competence with, and dominance of, the written form as hallmark of their place in society.”

Tufekci also appeared on a Washington Post blog, commenting on Twitter protocol for well-known users, in the light of the Rep. Anthony Weiner tweeted photo story. She reminds readers that it’s important to remember the platform’s public nature and to apply the same logic to communicating on Twitter that you would to other public interactions. Also this week, the Al-Masry Al-Youm covered Tufekci’s participation in the event “Internet and Social Change: Social media and collective action under autocracies” at Cairo University. According to the news site, “She pointed out that isolation was key to autocratic rule in the Middle East,” but as media has moved from a “one-to-many action” to a “many-to-many” collaboration, safety for citizen journalists “lies in numbers and connectivity.”


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