Social Networking an Evolution, Not a Revolution

December 9, 2010 at 7:28 PM

I recently noted the advent of Jumo, Facebook founder Chris Hughes’s social networking site to connect people with nonprofits and charitable organizations.

In the UK’s Guardian, Lucy Bernholz argues that social networking won’t lead to any revolutionary changes in philanthropy:

We’ve always relied on our friends, acquaintances, and known news sources for advice and information on how to give our time and money…[social networking is] not taking us forward in terms of using independent data sources, making comparative choices, drawing in new funds for social goods, or experimenting with new ways to organise to produce social goods.

Bernholz, who maintains her own philanthropy blog, puts me in mind of a recent Malcolm Gladwell New Yorker article. Gladwell discusses the limited usefulness of social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter for radical social change.

Essentially, social networking sites are fantastic for “weak tie” relationships – celebrated by Gladwell in The Tipping Point as great for spreading social contagion (or helping you find a job) – but poor at “strong tie” relationships, required for people to take the big risks required for radical change.

Bernholz sums up nicely:

This is not to say that social networks won’t change how we give. They might. Or perhaps, they will simply help us to see how we’ve already changed.

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Entry filed under: General.

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