The first sensible explanation I've seen of how technology is driving the revolutions in the Arab world
From Numerian. This is a great, great post on Libya, and you should read it all, but I'm pulling out this unique insight:
A restaurant I like to frequent in Damascus is rather like a sports bar, with good pizza and several televisions available showing different football matches. Viewers are encouraged to text in their opinions of the match, and a scroll on the bottom of each screen shows who has just sent a message. It is an unending parade of Middle East countries: Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan, Egypt, etc. It is a reminder of how many Arabs are Egyptian, but also how connected the Arab world now is through Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, texting, social networks, cell phones, and so on.
This sense of being part of a larger Arab world is relatively new and clearly reflects the importance of technological advances in communications. It overcomes something that has always kept Arabs apart: the fact, for example, that Arabs in Syria cannot understand Arabs in Morocco or elsewhere in the Maghreb. The dialects are way too different. In fact, Syrians and Jordanians not only have trouble understanding their neighbors next door in Iraq, they can barely understand the Bedouins who live in the desert herding goats and sheep. Hardly anyone can understand the Egyptians because they speak too fast, and religious leaders can be incomprehensible when reading from the Holy Quran because it is spoken in the Arabic equivalent of Old English.
Written Arabic, the type used in emails, is what has bound young Arabs together in recent years, as has shorthand Arabic used in texting.
So, "the narrative" is wrong. I'm shocked. The Arab revolutions aren't being driven by the ((fetishized) American corporate) platforms, like twitter and Facebook, at all. Rather, they're being enabled by a factor we in the West could not even see, because languages divided in speech, yet united by the alphabet, are not within our experience.
It's digital text, no matter the platform, that helped enable the Arab revolutions. Prose was the driver [#180].