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Re: <nettime> The Twitter Revolution Must Die (by Ulises A. Mejias)
Flick Harrison on Tue, 1 Feb 2011 15:43:54 +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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