[Air-L] Arab spring & social media evidence

Dave Karpf davekarpf at gmail.com
Thu Sep 15 12:02:05 PDT 2011


I think Alex H's point was that many more empirical studies aren't going to
affect that element of the popular discourse.

Or put another way, when a journalist calls you up and asks a question like
this (the one I get are usually along the lines of "is clicktivism good or
bad?"), they want a simple answer.  If you give them a complex/nuanced
answer, they're either going to (a) misquote you or (b) not quote you at
all.  And if they *do* delve into the complexity as you explained it, their
editor will surely tell them to cut it down and simplify it.

As far as I can tell, egypt-as-twitter-revolution is basically a zombie lie.
 Far more people debunk the claim than actually hold the claim.  It remains
propped up solely for the debunking.

...All that said, David Faris gave an excellent presentation at the American
Political Science Association Annual Meeting a few weeks ago, titled "Yes
Malcolm, there really are social media revolutions."  His argument, as I
understand it, is that if Tahrir (and the years of organizing the preceded
Tahrir) doesn't count as a social media-enabled revolution, then that just
means we need to rethink the term.

-DK

On Thu, Sep 15, 2011 at 2:52 PM, nativebuddha <nativebuddha at gmail.com>wrote:

> Thanks one and all for these suggestions.
>
> In response to Alex H's comments below, I completely agree. Unfortunately,
> there's a lot of policymaking going on right now that's picking up the
> cause-effect model and runnin' with it. In fact, popular discourse pretty
> much asserts that Twitter caused the revolution!
>
> This simplification is why there needs to be many more empirical studies.
>
> -robert
>
>
>
>
>
> >  On Thu, Sep 15, 2011 at 11:27 AM, Alex Halavais <alex at halavais.net
> >wrote:
> >
> >> I think any "cause-effect model" for any large-scale social phenomenon
> >> is sketchy, and I also think popular discourse loves such
> >> simplification. That is to say, I don't think "This Caused That" is
> >> something that evidence could directly demonstrate or refute (or even
> >> "refudiate" ;).
> >>
> >> That said, I've been reading Philip Howard's new book, "The Digital
> >> Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy," which is quite good, and
> >> provides something of a discussion of this question in its
> >> conclusions, and suggests that ICTs can play an important part in a
> >> "causal recipe" for democratization of Muslim states.
> >>
> >> - Alex
> >>
> >>
> >> On Thu, Sep 15, 2011 at 1:52 PM, nativebuddha <nativebuddha at gmail.com>
> >> wrote:
> >> > Does anyone have evidence (or links to studies) that show the impact,
> or
> >> > lack thereof, of social media on the Arab spring? This cause-effect
> >> model
> >> > still circulates in the mediasphere, but what is the evidence show?
> >> >
> >> > Thanks.
> >> >
> >> > -Robert
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-- 
Dave Karpf, PhD

Assistant Professor
Journalism and Media Studies Department
School of Communication and Information
Rutgers University, New Brunswick

www.davidkarpf.com
davekarpf at gmail.com


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