Crowdsourcing the Revolution: Inaugural Post and Mission Statement

    Welcome to the Inaugural Post of Crowdsourcing the Revolution! 

This blog on the Global Conversation is part of a departmental independent study project investigating the role of social media in the North African and Middle East uprisings from a sociological perspective. Our guiding principle in this project is to understand various cultural formations in the face of current revolutions in the Middle East through analyzing social networks, social media, and communication technologies with a focus on how each is situated within a broader conversation of social change.

     In order to do this, we would like to try to pursue the ideal that this project be executed collaboratively and reflexively. In our project, we will construct channels of communication in such a way that we will not move to and through topics unilaterally. Comments, questions, critiques from those who are stake-holders in this issues will inform the progress of our analysis and study.

Our research questions: 

Our overarching research question, which stumbled upon after weeks of reading, consternation, hours spent late into the night, and collegial dialog, is as follows: How might Revolution be/ how has Revolution been translated from one Middle Eastern nation to another, using social media as both the vehicle of this translation and as the prism through which we observe it?
The stepping stones that are helping us parse this behemoth of a question are:

How do we get from information, to knowledge, to action in the context of social networks and media?

How does the specific socio-historical context of areas in the Middle East inform social media participation and organization?

What part did Internet community and communication play in organizing and catalyzing protests and revolution?

Where does East meet West in the understanding of what happened in Tahrir? 

  • Do Americans think social media had more of a pivotal role in the revolution(s) than it did because the news of the uprisings was so present in American social media?
  • To what extent was the revolution on the internet in the US, and to what extent was it on the Internet in the Middle East? If there is a disparity, what is its nature and why does it exist?

     One purpose of this blog is to ensure that the list of research questions below is neither static nor exhaustive. We are starting this conversation in a public forum not only to develop this list of questions but to solicit critique on how we are asking those questions. In other words, we want you to join the discussion, ask questions, advise us, and be willing to push back. After all, we envision this as an effort of a community of conscientious thinkers. 

     Every week, we will make a blog post giving a list of the materials we prepared for discussion, a sketch of the discussion itself, and an open invitation to the reader to add to that discussion in the form of ideas, reading suggestions for future meetings, and critiques of our content and methodology.

Happy Commenting!