Civic engagement in the time of the #hashtag

Ethan Zuckerman is studying how technology is changing how we try to effect social change.

We used to make change mostly using law as our primary lever. Now we use the legal lever less; we use the levers of norms of markets and technology more often. #MeToo is an example of a norms-based campaign. It’s basically saying, “We’re going to challenge how people talk about sexual assault and sexual harassment.” And once we change that norm, there’s other legal pieces, market pieces, that’ll come into play. But at its heart it’s trying to change how we have certain conversations.

Zuckerman, by the way, is also known as the inventor of the pop-up ad, an achievement for which he has since apologized. In his reformed life, he is professor of MIT’s Media Lab.