#week11 #arabspring #egypt

So in Maria Popova’s article (1st set reading), she said that Malcolm Gladwell declared that “the revolution will not be tweeted”, and that social media is useless when it comes to serious activism. As we have all seen this week, it is obvious that he was wrong.My group presentation was on this topic, and I discovered that social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook were not the main causes of the Egyptian revolution, however they did help organise and disseminate information. And the revolution definitely was tweeted, sorry to say Gladwell… But  “#egypt” was the most popular hashtag in 2011 and #jan25 was number eight (http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-casbah/egypt-the-top-hashtag-twitter-2011).

Also, tweets around the world about Egypt during the revolution jumped from 2300 a day to 230 000 a day! (http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/12/05/the_egyptian_revolution_dominated_twitter_this_year, I recommend watching the video on this website too to have a visual understanding of the enormity of tweets).

A map of every tweet with the hashtag #jan25 on February 11th, the day Mubarak resigned. (Source: http://scrippsmediaethics.blogspot.com.au/2011/05/dont-be-stupid.html)

But of course, like I said, social networks were not the only reasons why the Arab Spring revolutions were successful. And like Evgeny Morozov said in Facebook and Twitter are just places revolutionaries go, unfortunately a lot of Western media focused so much on social media social media social media. But, for example in the Egyptian revolution, the people were ready for change and there was a real grass roots power behind the protests.

I really like this article by media critic Jay Rosen, http://pressthink.org/2011/02/the-twitter-cant-topple-dictators-article/. In it he explains a genre of articles that occurred after the Egypiatn revolution, which he calls “Twitter can’t topple dictators”. These are the articles that have titles like “People, not things, are tools of revolution” and “Mubarak steps down. But let’s be clear- Twitter had nothing to do with it”. They totally dismiss the role of social media and object to unquoted statements by random people that it does. Anyway, Rosen does a really good job of explaining it!

In regards to the Egyptian revolution, I personally think that the people were finally ready for change after 30 years of oppression, and social media was a way of organising the events. The median age of the Egyptian population is 24, so it makes sense that so many of them were already using Twitter and Facebook, so communicating via these networks was an obvious way of doing so.

What do you think of all of these arguments?

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6 thoughts on “#week11 #arabspring #egypt

  1. I think that after 30 years of oppression, people were ready for change too and social network sites such as twitter only made the news spread quicker. I really like the photo you put on your post, it sort of blows my mind though, how vastly spread the tweets were. It’s definitely a good thing that these platforms give people a voice they have not previously had, however, like you mentioned, if it were not for the people’s actions, twitter itself could not overthrow any political power alone.
    The articles you’ve included are awesome too! It’s crazy to think that the median age is 24, that the world is changing it’s ways of communication simultaneously. Obviously some countries face many more obstacles than we do here, but regardless, people are finding a way to express themselves.

  2. Love this post, I think that there was a need for change, and what better way to access this change than involving a new medium of communication. I understand that social media was not the only method used, however, we all know it was a strong and powerful method, and due to the age criteria of Egypt the plan worked. Living in Australia I think it’s very hard for any of us to comprehend the kind of things that are happening in these places, where they have suffered for 30 years, and there are many other places with similar or worse conditions. But I find it fascinating to reflect on the rise of media use in that brief period of time, it just reflects how passionate they all were for change.

  3. …“the revolution will not be tweeted” quote also stood out to me and was included in my post too! I think it stood out to me because of its absurdity. And the comment you made about “social networks were not the only reasons why the Arab Spring revolutions were successful”, is right on the mark too. I think that because the ‘media’ attract our attention to the increased role that social networks have played in revolutions and consequently distract us from other forms/channels of communication that have always existed- you and me!

  4. I think Maria Popova’s article was true in saying Gladwell was wrong by saying that social media is useless when it comes to serious activism. I don’t think it is completely useless as it creates awareness across countries about issues going on around the world. Although I do think there are times where it doesn’t help the situation or it can be misleading. For example with the Kony 2012 cause we were shown this video that turned out to be very untruthful, bringing to light a very outdated problem, but because it was so powerful everyone believed it at first.

  5. …“the revolution will not be tweeted” is probably the most prominent comment in the entire article. I completely agree with you, that social media was not the driving force behind the revolution, however for year of strict oppression and internet censorship, social media aided in the dissemination of information and enabled a well calculated uprising. It is completely wrong for one to believe that social media & people power were not significant factors in the Arab springs success.

  6. It’s most interesting to note the way in which these social networking tools were used in the revolution. They were used as means of communication – from getting word out on what was happening on the street to releasing critical information on how to protect oneself both online and on the street. They were not used in a way to directly bring down the governments regime – but rather they were tools for change.

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