Revolutions: Internet Freedom Steps Into the Limelight

Tokyo’s Libya Protest by jetalone Secretary of State Clinton made a speech last week committing to the ideal of an uncensored Internet as a primary tool for freedom. Her remarks — while in contrast to U.S. reactions about Wikileaks and the Obama Administration’s questionable policies on net neutrality — were made in the wake of the incredible events that have occurred in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other Arabic countries. As a result, liberty via the Internet has become a top policy objective. Throughout the Middle East’s unrest, individuals have used the Internet to communicate, speak out, and organize against totalitarian regimes in their countries. Further, citizens in Arabic countries can inform the rest of the world via social publishing tools, […]

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Revolutions: Don’t Shoot the Social Media Messenger

Image is from NorthJerseyMusic As we watch protestors risk their lives and demand governmental change in Egypt, a secondary news story has evolved. Pundits are actively debating the role (or lack thereof) that social media and the Internet played in sparking the Egyptian protests, Tunisia’s revolution, and Yemen’s unrest. There’s a whole camp of Malcolm Gladwell-esque voices who bitterly claim only revolutionaries make revolts, social media has no valuable role in the discussion. To deny the use of new tools as exciting and noteworthy in a revolution is a mistake. It’s the equivalent of shooting the messenger, the poor soul carrying information between warring parties. At the same time, one can see how statements like “the same Web tools that […]

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Tunisia Teaching Gladwell

Perhaps the most dismissive part of of Malcolm Gladwell’s “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted,” article was the closure: “A networked, weak-tie world is good at things like helping Wall Streeters get phones back from teen-age girls. Viva la revoluciĆ³n.” Tunisia’s recent revolution demonstrates that social media can be a powerful tool purposed by revolutionaries for change. And in doing so, Tunisia teaches the Malcolm Gladwells of the world a lesson or two. Gladwell’s conclusion found its basis in the weak ties theory from The Tipping Point, and lack of hierarchies in social networks. But Gladwell’s absolutist view of social change and activism online failed to grasp that it’s not the media that causes revolutions. Social media […]

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