Some quick thoughts on why I disagree with the approach of Evgeny Morozov. He writes here about the role of twitter etc in the Tunisian Jasmin Revolution now underway.

* there was far more twittering in French and Arabic; let’s not rely on English language postings

* the prime influence I suspect will be in the period following Mohammad Bouazizi’s immolation .  Social media/sms enabled news and momentum to develop across the country fast and unfettered. This gave, I suspect, a great deal of re-assurance to many not just in Tunis but around the country. Speed here would have been important.

* there was probably no single organiser, either individual or organisation, in the early days. It was personal and chaotic.  No need until perhaps the last few days for a “lets meet here” message or it was very local and under the external radar so to speak.

* there was considerable external messaging: and the responses back into Tunisia would have given heart to the movement.

* this was a genuine spontaneous uprising. The preconditions  almost matched those of Romania under Caecescu: massive corruption at the top; worsening civil liberties and a major unemployment problem.  The demographics of north Africa and the frightening lack of employment prospects are a massive problem, far more than any Al-Qaeda problem.

* I don’t see that the main role of social media is to generate mainstream media coverage .  In countries where the media is tightly controlled then it is a dead end aspiration. It is to generate momentum and add a comfort zone to those hesitating to take steps which are seriously dangerous.

 Discussion to continue

Advertisements