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New Journal: More About ICTs in the Egyptian and Tunisian Uprisings Than You Can Get Your Head Around

October 4, 2011

More than 30 communications scholars have contributed 16 papers to a special issue of the International Journal of Communication focused on the role of information and communication technologies in the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings.

The journal’s editors, Manuel Castells and Larry Gross, write:

The world is witnessing the rise of millions of people in Arab countries against the autocratic regimes under which they had to struggle to live for so long. Tunisia and Egypt were the first nations to each force a president out of office, and Western media outlets were quick to attribute their overthrow to digital media, particularly to social media and Facebook. This special section, guest-edited by Johanne Kuebler and Ilhem Alagui, presents 16 articles that put this notion to the test and illuminate the discussion of the role of digital media in the ongoing changes in the Arab world.

These articles, submitted within a very short time frame, present initial thoughts by scholars on the current social transformations. They cover a broad array of issues, including studies of how the Internet drives political mobilization and affects journalism coverage, empirical data sets, and analyses of specific online practices. The relationships between online and offline political action are explored, and a number of relevant social examples of participatory and social media are examined, including the influence of video logs and the writing of collective memories through the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

The introduction, by Kuebler and Allagui, argues that the complexity of the current transformations is overlooked when the overthrow of Tunisia’s Ben Ali and of Egypt’s Mubarak is attributed to digital media. Instead, a thorough analysis of the revolution’s organization by networks—and particularly social networks—is essential to our understanding.

While further research and careful examination is needed, these articles offer a first attempt by scholars in the field [of communications] to make sense of the recent uprisings.

The articles include:

The Arab Spring and the Role of ICTs” by Ilhem Allagui of the American University of Sharjah and Johanne Kuebler of the European University Institute.

Nextopia: Beyond Revolution 2.0”  by Albrecht Hofheinz (University of Oslo)

Analyzing the Role of ICTs in the Tunisian and Egyptian Unrest from an Information Warfare Perspective” by Brett van Niekerk, Kiru Pillay, and Manoj Maharaj of South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal

The Revolutions Were Tweeted: Information Flows During the 2011 Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions,” by Gilad Lotan (Social Flow), Erhardt Graeff (Web Ecology Project), Mike Ananny (Microsoft), Devin Gaffney (Web Ecology Project), Ian Pearce (Web Ecology Project), and danah boyd (Microsoft).

Overthrowing the Protest Paradigm? How The New York Times, Global Voices and Twitter Covered the Egyptian Revolution” by Summer Harlow and Thomas Johnson (University of Texas-Austin).

The Egyptian Experience: Sense and Nonsense of the Internet Revolution” by Miriam Aoragh (Oxford) and Anne Alexander (Cambridge).

Wikirevolutions: Wikipedia as a Lens for Studying the Real-Time Formation of Collective memories of Revolutions” by Michela Ferron (University of Trento) and Paolo Massa (Fondazione Bruno Kessler).

“‘I’ll be waiting for You Guys’: A YouTube Call to Action in the Egyptian Revolution” by Melissa Wall (California State University, Northridge) and Sahar El Zahed (Claremont).

Local Knowledge and the Revolutions: A Framework for Social Media Information Flow” by Victoria Ann Newsom (Olympic College), Lara Lengel (Bowling Green) and Catherine Cassara (Bowling Green)

“‘I Have Understood You’: The Co-evolution of Expression and Control on the Internet, Television and Mobile Phones During the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia” by Ben Wagner (European University Institute)

Politics through Social Networks and Politics by Government Blocking: Do We Need New Rules?” by Rolf H. Weber (University of Zurich)

Media Ecologies, Communication Culture, and Temporal-spatial Unfolding: Three Components in a Communication Model of the Egyptian Regime Change” by Eike M. Rinke & Maria Röder of the University of Mannheim.

Digital Media in the Egyptian Revolution: Descriptive Analysis from the Tahrir Data Set” byChristopher Wilson (UNDP Oslo Governance Centre) and Alexandra Dunn (Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies)

Extra-National Information Flows, Social Media and the 2011 Egyptian Uprising” by Adrienne Russel (University of Denver)

Connecting the National and the Virtual: Can Social Media Have a Role in Institution-building After Egypt’s January 25 Uprising?” by Elizabeth Iskander (London School of Economic and Political Science)

Social Media in the Egyptian Revolution: Reconsidering Resource Mobilization Theory” by Nahed Eltantawy and Julie B. Wiest (High Point University)

A Revolution of the Imagination” by Tarek Ahmed Elseewi (Vassar)

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