[Air-L] ISOC Statement on Egypt’s Internet shutdown
Marianne van den Boomen
M.V.T.vandenBoomen at uu.nl
Tue Feb 1 12:24:51 PST 2011
On 31-1-11 16:01, Richard Forno wrote:
> IMHO social media is playing a supporting role in all of this. Is it
> helpful? Sure - but hardly essential.
Mm, I would say that we have no theoretical or empirical instruments to
assess whether a factor is 'essential' for the emergence of social
change or uprisings that pop up in mainstream media as 'sudden' (and
thus urge for easy answers: oh, it must be caused by SM). There is
probably a myriad of factors that co-constitute a tipping point, and the
person who is able to figure out which one is essential would no doubt
soon be a millionaire, in the field of marketting or espionage).
One of the first tweets I saw about Tunesia (not yet Egypt) said
something like 'hey, a revolution without tribute to Twitter or
Well, it did not take long...
To wit: the Egyptian gov cut
> off many modes of communication helpful for social media
> applications, but did it adversely impact the protests? Nope. What
> does that tell us?
It does tell us a few things. Firstly, that it is considered disturbing
or dangerous by the Egyptian powers that be. Of course, that does not
prove that SM are essential. It may indicate that those powers are
technological determinists but more probable is that they desperately
try to regain control of any factor they may contribute to the revolt.
And any communication medium - from words of mouth to printed press to
television to radio to SM - obviously is such a factor, regardless
whether one takes an optimist or pessimist stance.
And may be it does tell us something else. Maybe a strategy of Internet
shutdown reveals that the regime is not quit sure it will survive, while
a strategy of non-shutting down but using social media to identify and
prosecute people (as happened in Iran) indicates that the regime is sure
of its enduring power. May be the SM strategies by repressive regimes
are a baromoter of the strength of the regimes, rather than that the use
of SM is a barometer of the strength of a people's revolt.
Marianne van den Boomen
Media and Culture Studies | University Utrecht
Office: Kromme Nieuwegracht 20 (room T2.13A)
Mail: Muntstraat 2a | 3512 EV UTRECHT
Phone: +31 (0)30 253 9607
M.V.T.vandenBoomen at uu.nl | www.hum.uu.nl
www.newmediastudies.nl | www.vandenboomen.org
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