For Our Twitter Conversation

Saw this quote today:

“Today you are the media, it is your duty to report and keep the hope alive,” – Mir Hossein Mousavi.

and thought it was relevant to the discussion on Twitter.

Also, I was reading a BdM Foreign Affairs article today about efforts of authoritarian regimes to suppress democratic transitions, and he apparently ran a model that showed that authoritarian regimes that suppress 1) political rights (speech, assembly, etc.), 2) human rights (habeas corpus, arbitrary arrest, travel, etc.), 3) FREE PRESS, and 4) higher education, maintain their power significantly longer than regimes that don’t suppress those four key “coordination goods.”

It seems to me that Twitter and related technologies could take the place of the mass press as acting as a coordination good in authoritarian countries.  Potentially assembly too, in a civil society sort of way.

This raises an interesting question: in the democratization literature there is a distinct difference in how we treat the press and civil society.  Which of these concepts is closer to the function of social networking?


About Jake Wobig

I teach international relations and comparative politics at Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina
This entry was posted in Comparative Politics, Crowds, Political Communication. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to For Our Twitter Conversation

  1. This is going to show my ignorance of all things foreign policy related, but are there any authoritarian regimes that don’t do those four things? I thought the idea of benevolent dictators was a myth.

    It’s becoming a cliche for me to defend Twitter, so I’m going to take the other side for this one. The technology provides a very good grassroots level form of journalism, but we still need journalists/bloggers to impose order on the chaos that is Twitter (and other social networking technologies). I’m not sure what it looks like in Tehran, but it’s become incredibly difficult to get any idea of what is actually going on from Twitter feeds. Thus sources like Sullivan and The New York Times blog have been essential to following the happenings in Iran while they… happen.

    I don’t really understand that question at the end. What do you mean?

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