Social Media – A Revolutionary Tool

The Arab Spring is a term expressing the revolutionary movements in 2010, which began in the Arab region. What made the Arab Spring so unique was the utilisation of social media to establish and promote uprising agendas, as these were the first collective movements in the Middle East since Internet and social media revolutions. A journal article by Richard Lindsey explores the significance of social media during the Arab Spring, allowing individuals to influence public opinion and gain international support through the global distribution of news. Lindsey assures that techniques and procedures via social media will affect future revolutionary tactics in globalised societies, however the degree to which is questionable.

Sharing mass amounts of uncensored and accurate information through social networking significantly prompted the rise in Arab Spring activists. Not only did they obtain supremacy to overthrow powerful dictatorship, but also Arab civilians were now conscious of underground communities whom they can connect with. This may have not been possible without the significant role social media played, “We use Facebook to schedule the protests… Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world.” – Arab Spring activist from Egypt. Stories of shared grievances and hopelessness was overflowing over these networks. The use of digital storytelling through social media is what drew people into the streets to protest.

ArabSpring-Tweeter

Image source

A blog post on PolicyMic describes the use of social networks as assisting to remove the psychological barrier of fear for Arab civilians by connecting and sharing information. The consistent flow of news provided a sense of reassurance that they are not alone, and that there are others experiencing hardship, prejudice, and similar accounts of brutality. Professor of mass communications from Cairo, Hussein Amin, stated that social networks “for the first time provided activists with an opportunity to quickly disseminate information while bypassing government restrictions”. It is worthy to note that new social networking platforms were not the reason for the Arab Spring but function in serving future revolutions with regard to communication.

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Locked appliances VS Generative platforms

Many of you would remember the days where MySpace was one of the most dominant social networking platforms. Its popularity stemmed from the fact that it was an open and free platform. Users were able to generate their own themes and HTML codes to personalise their MySpace profile. The shift to FaceBook then occurred – a closed platform. Whilst you can still post personal content you cannot control how your FaceBook page looks and works. A similar comparison would be the Android and iPhone. The Android allows you to take control and responsibility over the choices you make with regard to how you use it (via rooting) whereas the iPhone is a ‘sterile’ or closed/locked device. This video outlines how Apple has complete ownership according to how the iPhone is used. In fact, Apple receives a 30 per cent profit of everything sold in their App store, which holds over two million applications.

In an article ‘The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence, Henry Jenkins states that “Cultural policy is increasingly being set not by governmental bodies, but by media companies; we lose the ability to have any real influence over the directions that our culture takes if we do not find ways to engage in active dialogue with media“. Jenkins points out the increasing power of converging media and how consumers play a huge part. This statement made me curious… Is using closed devices giving them the upper hand? Should we be concerned? Will this affect us in the future and if so, how? Our culture is becoming more and more technologically dependent. Is this what we want?

And so now, the battle of locked VS generative appliances comes into play. Ultimately I feel it comes down to personal choice… do you want everything already there for you? Are the extra features necessary? Do you have enough time to adjust it completely/to learn how to root? I think the iPhone does a terrific job and is continuously adapting as technology advances. The thing I love most about the iPhone is that I never have to buy a new phone and I will never get bored, because it is consistently being updated and I am able to update the software with the same device! The most revolutionary idea in the world of mobile phones.