Yesterday, I had the good fortune to speak at Professor Lani Guinier‘s Harvard Law School course on Law and Social Movements, along with MIT Professor Dayna Cunningham and my good friend Nasser Weddady of the Hands Across the Middle East Support Alliance. The topic of discussion, of course, was the use of technology in social movements, particularly as it relates to the recent movements in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere in the region.
The discussion was incredibly interesting, and I was honored to be the guest of such a distinguished professor (and alongside such distinguished panelists!). Of course, all of us had so much to say that, in the end, there wasn’t ample time for answering students’ questions. As a result, I managed to scribble down (yes, by hand) the questions, in the hopes that my co-panelists might join me in answering them here. I will thus be updating the post if and when they join in, so stay tuned. You should also feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section, in case the students drop by to read.
- Are media moguls/organizations dictating or manipulating the agenda in Egypt and elsewhere?
- Could a Western embrace (either by individuals or governments) of social media in the Middle East and North Africa be detrimental to the cause?
- Does Internet exacerbate the “quick-fix” mentality of our generation and is it sustainable?
- Can one build up cachet solely online or does one need a certain background?
- Is there a difference in the way public vs. private spaces (e.g., Facebook vs. email) are used online for organizing and does one have a greater impact than the other?
- Does the social and political context of a country or locale influence the use of social media there and how?
- Is there any usefulness in comparing these varied movements in a vacuum?
- How much does social media impact people’s ability to take in information and develop empathy? Are we suffering from information overload?
- How does the empathy created amongst outsiders influence the direction of insiders of a movement?
- Is the framing of “Twitter revolutions” the same in foreign media as it is in American media?