Another Twitter Revolution?

“The most rapid revolution in history,” he wrote. “Because we are connected. Synchronized.”

The new Tunisian Minister of Youth and Sports, who is sharing detailed observations about the upheaval in Tunisia to his 10,000+ Twitter followers. [1. “Tunisia’s Inner Working Emerge on Twitter,” David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, January 22, 2011.]

As an interesting follow up to my piece about social media and Hitler, my friend Mark pointed me to this article about the current uprising in Tunisia. It seems that some journalists are taking another crack at trying to brand yet another revolution as one having its origin and power in social media. This storyline has been advanced as least a couple of times in recent years, i.e., in the Moldovian revolution of 2009 (e.g., Wired: “Inside Moldova’s Twitter Revolution; Foreign Policy: “Inside Moldova’s Twitter Revolution“), and in Iran in 2010 (e.g., Time: Iran Protests –  Twitter, the Medium of the Movement).

Not everyone believes in the meme. As I mentioned in my previous piece, Malcolm Gladwell took issue with this proposition in a recent New Yorker piece, subtitled, “Why the Revolution Will Not be Tweeted.”  Others are similarly skeptical (e.g., Guardian:”Iran’s ‘Twitter Revolution’ was Exaggerated“).

The story of how the whole thing got started in Tunisia is fascinating. Is Tunisia in the midst of a Twitter Revolution? I suppose only time will tell. However, the new government is taking a decidedly old school approach to controlling the situation, by shutting down the most popular television network in the country. Will steps to control online communications and social media be far behind? Do they have the sophistication and resources to control social media? It will be interesting to learn the answers to these questions. It seems clear that, at least in the early days – and for now –  Internet-based communications have played an important role.

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