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Re: <nettime> The Twitter Revolution Must Die (by Ulises A. Mejias)
Flick Harrison on Tue, 1 Feb 2011 15:12:52 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> The Twitter Revolution Must Die (by Ulises A. Mejias)

Re: the facebook / twitter revolution etc.

I've been teaching in French lately so thought I'd practice my French skilz on adult news translation, rather than just convincing 6-year-olds to hate Windows.

Saw this (below) in Le Figaro and thought you might like.

I like that Lacour-Astol likens the Arab street to La Resistance, a hoary old chestnut in France I'm sure but a nice counterpoint to HRC's abominable Yankee-State-Department dithering.  And her emphasis on 

I don't like that she negates the information-sharing aspect of any technology, as if the "interior alignment" of the individual is mystically predetermined, rather than formed by observational experiences or newly-learned conditions or events, or even prior personal loyalties, and, she seems to think, the network serves only to connect individuals in a common cause that pre-dates the relationship or even communication of any kind.

"Egypt and Tunisia: Facebook doesn't light the flame."

LE FIGARO, Jan 31 2010
unauthorized translation by Flick Harrison



In Egypt, as in Tunisia, observers note the importance of social networks on the Internet in the current upheaval.

LEFIGARO . FR - Analyzing the role of social media in the events in Tunisia and Egypt, some are quick to declare a "facebook revolution."  Isn't that a quick forgetting of history?

Catherine Lacour-Astol:  By all accounts, there have been mobilizations and revolutions before facebook and twitter!  We cannot therefore say that current social networks are the origin of mobilization.  They are simply one of the vectors.

If you compare what's happening in Egypt and Tunisia on Facebook with pre-internet phenomena, like the French Resistance in World War II, a similarity emerges: the process of mobilization proposes the creation of a society of resistance.  Under the Occupation, the pioneers of the Resistance started / recruited from their traditional social circles: friends, family, professional field, associations, militants... To describe this spreading engagement, Germaine Tillion spoke of the "spider web," a "social network" before the coinage of the term.  In both cases, we find the idea of sociability.

Outside of their sociability function, do social networks play a specific role in the engagement process itself?

Fundamentally, they lift any doubts about isolation.  You must really understand that when they came together in 1940-41, the pioneers of the Resistance were permanently confronted with doubt.  "Am I the only one analyzing the situation this way?  Am I the only one who wants to act?"  This doubt didn't prevent them from action, but it made meeting necessary, to ascertain the validity of the commitment.  The internet allows this, it theoretically lifts the isolation: "I am not alone."

Does it matter, for Tunisians and Egyptians, that they are being watched by the whole world?

Certainly, exposure of events gives substance to the confrontation.  Like the Ascq massacre, in the North of France in 1944:  the resistance were quite aware that this was reported on the BBC.  But beyond that, I don't think the Tunisians felt a need for Western awareness to make good on their revolution.  On the other hand, the fact that information spreads on such a large scale prevents, no doubt, the negation of the phenomena by governments and the stifling of the will to liberation.  But it doesn't create it.

With social networks, is commitment now a collective act?

No, to commit you must be intimately bound to the cause you're defending.  At the origin of commitment, there's an individual alignment, an analysis of the situation and what to do to resist it.  For the Resistance, it's what we call the "flame" or the "spirit of resistance."  It's something deeply anchored in the individual.

Analyzing the mobilization by the sole yardstick of the number of demonstrators, however, erases the individual, and attributes mobilizing virtues to the Internet  that reduce the individual's interior alignment to nothing.  To give the internet such a role can be dangerous, because it supposes that opinion is easily mobilized, therefore manipulated at leisure.




* FLICK's WEBSITE & BLOG: http://www.flickharrison.com 

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