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Tunisia and the New Arab Media Space | Marc Lynch - - 20110115

An interesting discussion has already broken out over whether Tunisia should be considered a "Twitter Revolution" -- a far more interesting and relevant discussion than whether it was a "Wikileaks Revolution" (it wasn't).    I've seen some great points already by Ethan ZuckermanEvgeny Morozov, Luke Allnut, and others, and I'm looking forward to being one of the social scientists digging into the data.  I suspect that both enthusiasts and skeptics will find support for their arguments.  For now, I would just argue that it would be more productive to focus more broadly on  the evolution of the Arab media over the last decade, in which new media such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, forums and blogs work together with satellite television stations such as al-Jazeera to collectively transform the Arab information environment and shatter the ability of authoritarian regimes to control the flow of information, images, ideas and opinions.   That feels like a sentence which I've written a hundred times over the last decade.... and one which has never felt more true than the last month in Tunisia.

Calling Tunisia a "Twitter Revolution" is simplistic, but even skeptics have to recognize that the new media environment mattered.  I would suggest that analysts not think about the effects of the new media as an either/or proposition ("Twitter vs. al-Jazeera"), think about new media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, SMS, etc) and satellite television as collectively transforming an complex and potent evolving media space.  ....


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