Tweeting Toward Revolution

Parti Pirate Tunisien.
Yesterday, I focused on the prospects of bringing real change to people’s lives through Twitter. Although the post was inspired by what I was seeing happen in Tunisia, it was not directly about the reports of the uprising, just some observations about how the reports were being curated.

Today, we have witnessed the results of those collective voices: change. While some U.S.-based news organizations were reporting on man versus machine or (wo)man versus dog, other news organizations were reporting on man versus movement.

Now the debate about Twitter’s role in the outcome has begun. The opinions are many, and, at the time of this writing, I have only been able to digest a few. Life’s Little Boxes has some thoughts about Twitter as a means of information distribution. The New York Times credits the acceleration of the protests to the heavy use of social media. And GigaOm uses the moment to rehash the “Twitter as force for change” discussion that came to a head last October.

No matter your opinion of Twitter’s role in the ousting of an authoritarian regime, it’s comforting to know that the tools for change are becoming more available to people around the globe. The fact that more than 40 percent of all Twitter usage occurs on mobile devices is a large reason for this. People on the ground, in the middle of growing protest and unrest, can share captured moments, thoughts, and events to a vastly wider audience. While we run the risk of making more of a moment than we should, the amplification of an uprising can now be more quickly validated as more eyewitnesses get to tell their tales.

Twitter will continue to be used in movements across the globe, whether for organizing or broadcasting. My hope is that we continue creating tools to help drive information into action. Including seeing you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.
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Author  Stephen R. Fox