Social activism is alive and well in the age of Twitter and Facebook. The ability to communicate on a global scale means that social movements can arise quickly and gain legions of followers. Authoritarian regimes can no longer control the commanding heights by turning out the lights. But as Malcolm Gladwell, Douglas Rushkoff, and others have observed, social activism on the Web is also based on weak connections. It takes a minute to sign a petition against genocide in Darfur, and then one moves on to the next website. The old social movements were based on deep connections between activists who knew each other for a long time and thought long and hard about the issues before jumping into the fray. It took guts to confront authority and one’s opponents. We need to recapture some element of that discipline. Just as we have a...

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