The Blog — Research
This morning we are following the livestream of Sifting Fact from Fiction: The Role of Social Media in Conflict featuring speakers such as Jillian C. York, Andy Carvin, Clay Shirky, Marc Lynch, and Alec Ross. Follow the conversation via the livestream or on Twitter: #USIPblogs. This event accompanies the release of a paper, "Blogs and Bullets: Social Media in Contentious Politics" which examines the role of social media in political movements.
http://barzey.com/ArabSpring.jpg The Revolutions Were Tweeted: Information Flows During the 2011 Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions
A recently published article in the International Journal of Communications examines the production and dissemination of news on Twitter during the 2011 Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions. The authors use these two events to discuss how Twitter plays a key role in amplifying and spreading timely information across the globe.
We are happy to be publishing Invisible Machines: Collective Action Through Digital Space an honors thesis by Edmund Zagorin, a student at the University of Michigan. In Invisible Machines Edmund explores classical theories of social movement formation's inbility to explain or make predictions about modern day movements tht often lack centralized leadership structures (see Wael Ghonims talk at One Young World about the "leadlerless" revolution in Egypt), where there is no clearly understood common purpose, and where many members participate in collective action anonymously or remotely. He also examines other dynamics of emergent digital connection.
A new grassroots research platform, R-Sheif, is attempting to make the news coming out of the Arab world more accessible.
Sometimes the idea of the internet as a political tool is almost as potent as the network itself. This makes it just that much harder to parse out the effective use of technology in social movements.
Thankfully, though, a startup consultancy called Reboot hopped over to Egypt last month to investigate. The result? A 28 page white paper, released today, called "Egypt: From Revolutions to Institutions."
Today, Human Rights Watch released their annual report exploring human rights conditions in more than ninety countries and territories around the world. The 2011 World Report, titled “A Facade of Actions," highlights the grave need for increased public pressure on abusive governments.
Today, independent watchdog Freedom House released its annual Freedom in the World report for 2011. The report assesses political rights and civil liberties as experienced by citizens on the ground. Using key performance indicators, researchers from Freedom House assigned a freedom status--Free, Partly Free, or Not Free--to 194 countries and 14 territories. 2010 marked the fifth consecutive year that global freedom has been on the decline. Find out more about what countries changed status over the past year, how the economic downturn has impacted democracies, and predictions for the new year.
Does the diffusion of the internet in a country contribute to democratic growth and enhance democratic development? This is the question driving a new paper published by Jacob Groshek, a professor at Iowa State University. To determine the extent to which democratic development is augmented by the diffusion of the internet at the national level, Groshek studied macro-level time–series democracy data from 72 countries, including nearly every Eastern European country and former Soviet states. He took actual democracy scores for each country from 1994 to 2003 and compared those scores to his forecasted values. From his findings, Groshek concluded that while an increase in internet penetration may contribute to the spread of democracy, it is not the defining factor. Looking for more research? Check out our suggestions after the jump.
The back and forth of DDoS attacks continues, with the notorious message board site 4Chan now the most recent player to find itself on the receiving end of a major attack. As 4Chan Tweeted yesterday, "site temporarily unavailable due to DDoS -or- we figured @MasterCard, @PayPal, and #Visa were lonely."
Will most sites - from human rights bloggers to corporations - end up resigning themselves to DDoS attacks? The most recent report from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society suggests that this might be the case, at least for the former, which are unlikely to have the massive resources required to forestall an attack. The authors surveyed independent media and human rights-related sites, reviewed media reports of DDoS and other cyberattacks, and interviewed publications who have suffered from such attacks. While they found that there is no silver bullet to fend of an attack, the authors do share a number of recommendations for sites that may experience attacks.
Professor and author Clay Shirky explores the political impact of social media in a new article for Foreign Affairs. He believes that the U.S. State Department's Internet freedom agenda is short-sighted because it is primarily focused on short-term country- or tech-specific goals. He argues that securing the freedom of personal and social communication among a population should be the agenda's first priority, rather than the current focus on supporting specific tools or campaigns aimed at specific regimes.