Social Media: Revolutionaries

This tweet from Shervin Pishevar has been all over the technology headlines:

For those of you who don’t know, Pishevar is the founder of SGN, the Social Gaming Network.

SGN is the one of the leading publishers and developers of mobile games. Not too shabby. Pishevar also is one of the founding presidents of Webs.com, one of the largest social publishing communities in the world. Because of his success, it only makes sense that his tweet would receive a lot of attention.

After giving more thought to it, I found it to be rather profound.

By now, the majority of us can agree that modern, digital technology has had quite an impact on ourselves, our peers, as well as our media and governments. For anyone who has taken a Communications class at Fordham, by now you’re heard  how great the democratic nature of new technology is a million times.

But I had never given thought to as Pishevar said it: stopping future genocides.

I guess the implication of “democracy in action,” in my mind at least, applied to Americans’ abilities to voice their opinions more easily. Our access to various media outlets (getting a break from the corporates when we want to), our ability to speak out on any platform, and most importantly, our freedom to choose without constraint.

This is good, but it’s a freedom we’ve always had, technically, and does not face nearly as much oppression as it does elsewhere in the world. Regretfully, I forget that too often.

This excerpt from TechCrunch’s article (by Paul Carr) about Pishevar’s tweet really says it all:

With regime change in Tunisia and Egypt, and Libya’s uprising continuing apace, a growing number of commentators are hailing the influence of Facebook and Twitter in helping world-be-revolutionaries coordinate their actions…

As an on-the-record skeptic of the role of social media in causing revolutions, I wanted to know how the “social media revolution” differs from previous communications revolutions. We also discussed how the Rwandan genocide might have been covered differently today, how the Internet can avoid being shut down by dictators.

We don’t have revolutions like those in Egypt & Tunisia in America too often, which is why it may be harder to some of us to see the full potential of social media, and watch it happen before our eyes. But if we take a step back and see it the way that Pishevar does, it’s extroadinary. And as Carr points out, it brings up the question of what could have happened if social media were around during the Rwandan genocide.

Is Pishevar right though? Can all protests and uprisings against governments stay blood-free, so long as the rest of the world is watching?

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