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Monday, February 21, 2011

Tweeting the Revolution

Here is an article on Governments vs Social Media, by Mr Evgeny Morozov, in The Wall Street Journal of 19 February 2011.

The article tells us that governments around the world are adapting to the new social media, often creating their own, to maintain control, as in China and Russia.  His "bottom line"
Triumphalism about recent events in the Middle East is premature.  The contest is still in its early stages, and the new age of Internet-driven democratization will endure only if we learn to counter the sophisticated measures now being developed to quash it.
Then we get this input from Abu Muqawama, which points out that when a government shuts down the social media (and cell phones) may matter as much as the act of doing it.  As they say, "timing is everything".
One interesting piece of analysis I have now heard from several smart observers is that by shutting down the Internet and the cellular phone networks, the Egyptian regime actually *increased* the number of Egyptians on the streets protesting.  Not only did shutting down the Internet force people to leave the house and physically connect with their fellow protesters, but one friend noted that if you really want to piss off all of Egypt, a good way to do so is by shutting off cell phone service.  More than Facebook or Twitter, cellular phone service unites Egyptians in a virtual community.  And by shutting down cellular phone service, you're sure to anger Egyptians of all generations and classes -- and not just the college kids with Facebook accounts.  So score one for the enduring power of 20th Century technology, perhaps.
Someone noted, and I have misplaced it, that the Chinese Government recently had a situation where two police beat to death someone and it went viral on social media and the Chinese Government went out and asked people on the social media to join a panel investigating the case.  A very smart move on the part of the Chinese Government.

None of which should take away from Dick Howe's excellent post on Twitter, here.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Mr. Morozov, is noted in the article as a Stanford University visiting scholar, and as the author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, which was reviewed by Lee Siegel in the New York Times Book Review, under the title "Twitter Can't Save You", from 4 February 2011.
  Yes, Abu Muqawama is a real person, and informed.  I wish I had a neat nom de plume.

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