Both Usher’s ‘How Egypt’s uprising is helping redefine the idea of a “media event”‘ (2011) and Hirschkind’s ‘From the Blogosphere to the Street: The Role of Social Media in the Egyptian Uprising’ (2011) discuss the role of social media in the Egypt uprising. The two articles take two slightly different standpoints on the extent to which social network transformed Egypt’s political landscape.
Hirschkind refers to the ‘spectacular mobilization’ (2011) that occured as a result of the online collaboration of activists. He also describes the role of social media in cutting through institutional barriers and forging a ‘new political language.’ It is apparent that Hirschkind believes that the impact of the ‘blogosphere’ in facilitating the Egypt uprising has been unprecedented.
Usher supports the standpoint that social media has been integral in redefining our understanding of a ‘media event.’ (2011) However, she points that it is not merely social media in it’s traditional form (websites like Facebook and Twitter) that has engendered this shift. Instead, social media platforms have worked alongside mainstream coverage and internet streaming to ‘provide a story to the rest of the world.’
However, Glanz and Markoff’s article ‘Egypt Leaders Found ‘Off’ Switch for Internet’ (2011) takes an entirely different approach to the mobilizing abilities of social networking. While it acknowledges the influence of social media, it also suggests that this was rivalled by the power of the Egyptian government. Glanz and Markoff refer to the five day internet blackout enforced by the autocrats. The article summarises this counter-attack in the following statement ‘For all the Internet’s vaunted connectivity, the Egyptian government commanded powerful instruments of control: it owns the pipelines that carry information across the country and out into the world. ‘ (2011) This suggests that the internet is a useless tool for rebellion if it is ultimately moderated by the opposition.
I personally relate most to the arguments raised in Usher’s article. The Egypt uprising is a great example of the dramatic impact of social media on the practice of rebellion. Another example would be the 2005 Cronulla riots, where mobile technology was used to assemble a large group of people. However, I do not believe that social media is the sole agent of change in shifting the nature of media events. Rather, it works in collaboration with alternate sources such as mainstream print media.
Glanz, J and Markoff, J, ‘Egypt Leaders Found ‘Off’ Switch for Internet’, The New York Times <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/16/technology/16internet.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2>
Hirschkind, C (2011) ‘From the Blogosphere to the Street: The Role of Social Media in the Egyptian Uprising’, Jadaliyya <http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/599/from-the-blogosphere-to-the-street_the-role-of-social-media-in-the-egyptian-uprising>
Usher, N (2011), ‘How Egypt’s uprising is helping redefine the idea of a “media event”’, The Nieman Lab <http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/02/how-egypts-uprising-is-helping-redefine-the-idea-of-a-media-event/>