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Slackman writes that although Gamal al-Banna been sharing his ideas publicly for years:. It is not that a majority agrees with him; it is not that the tide is shifting to a more moderate interpretative view of religion; it is just that the rise of relatively independent media — like privately owned newspapers, satellite television channels and the Internet — has given him access to a broader audience. Several factors have changed the public debate and erased some of the fear associated with challenging conventional orthodoxy, political analysts, academics and social activists said.
These include a disillusionment and growing rejection of the more radical Islamic ideology associated with Al Qaeda, they said. Our research into the Arabic blogosphere found that Egypt does indeed have large, relatively open and in many ways oppositional blogosphere. The debates within the Muslim Brotherhood cluster of bloggers, where younger members challenge the old guard on the goals and future direction of the Muslim Brotherhood, are some of the most interesting in the online Middle East, because they show how the Internet has the power to change existing institutions and the way decisions are made in those previously hierarchical, top-down institutions.
As we wrote in our paper:. The Muslim Brotherhood that mobilizes mindshare in the networked public sphere is no longer the same Muslim Brotherhood. The Internet does not just promise or threaten to change the balance of power among players on the field, it changes the field and changes the players too. They are the prelude to submission. In part, this is because the accused are connected to a mass movement: Iranians whose democratic aspirations have evolved organically within the culture of the Islamic Republic.
It is one thing to persuade citizens that a narrow band of apparatchiks are enemies of the state. It is quite another to claim that a political agenda with broad support—for popular sovereignty, human rights, due process, freedom of speech—has been covertly planted by foreigners. He cites Reporters Without Borders for the background:. Ahmed Al-Omran, a blogger who first drew attention to the situation, said it was the first time the authorities had moved against Twitter users in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia publicly acknowledges censoring morally inappropriate and religiously sensitive material, but the authorities also filter oppositional political sites and sites focused on human rights issues. Saudi citizens have started to use the Internet for online activism, but the authorities have arrested several online writers and blocked their content. On August 20 the U. Ambassador John Roos assumed duty of the Embassy in Tokyo, bringing with him from his perch as CEO of a top Silicon Valley law firm, a wealth of Internet, high technology, and legal expertise:.
A Parliamentary Democracy, Japan has both an Upper House of Councillors and a Lower House of Representatives. Largely seen as the guardian of the post-Cold War U. However, polls indicate that the Democratic Party of Japan DPJ could alter Japanese history. Currently the DPJ holds seats in the Lower House.
A potential LDP loss, and DPJ win would unsettle an institutional path dependence, and shake up ties in a country built of relationships. Such a DPJ win could have profound impact on US-Japan political, security, and technology relations. With issues such as the Support of Forces Agreement , a potential US-Japan Free Trade Agreement FTA , Okinawa U.
On security issues the U. The US and Japan cooperate on multiple fronts, not least of which is technology development.
Recent Japanese GDP data indicated 3. Domestic groups such as the Japanese Business Federation state that a DPJ win could mean labor reform, new targets on unemployment, and potential for immigration policy alteration. But at the end of the day, a DPJ win will not likely alter Japanese green technology development as a priority, and U. While the acronym associated with Lower House Diet seats may change, while business-to-government relationships may need to refresh, and while this is no doubt historic, bilateral technology cooperation will remain a core issue.
This week the OpenNet Initiative ONI released its report on Internet filtration across the Middle East and North Africa MENA. Research for this release was conducted in , but it builds upon findings dating back to , including a report released in The full release available in PDF chronicles the detailed testing of over 2, websites in each country.
The research spanned 35, Arabic language web logs across 18 countries in the Middle East. The research findings proved not only illustrative, but also provocative. Beyond discourse, he elucidated the importance of political and social institutions, demographic understanding, and context to frame blogger perspectives. He argued that the map would appear very different with re-framed parameters — for example, a different set of political categories could be seen across geographic or religious lines if attentive clusters were bifurcated by demographic understanding.
Similarly, new patterns would emerge from categorizing bloggers by their political agenda rather than their religious affiliations. During the question and answer section, the study methodology was further elucidated, and the incorporation of Arabic speakers and regional experts explained.
Categorizations will always be crude approximations of a reality far more complex than can be conveniently articulated — it is important though to be aware of these limitations and draw conclusions commensurate with such approximations. Several questions centered on the relation between the Arabic blogosphere and transnational and local media, and by extension, the connection between online life and real life in the Arab world.
The researchers said it is hard to estimate the extent to which Arabic blogs reflect public opinions or consensus views, though they pointed out that Al Jazeera, the BBC and Al Arabiya are the top three mainstream media sources linked to by Arabic bloggers.
Others wanted to understand how this study compared with studies in the West, and if so whether the perspectives of the Western blogosphere matched Western social attitudes, questioning the assumption that online discourse can be extrapolated to understand larger societal trends. Yet others wanted to more comprehensively understand the linkages between online discourse and offline events, and how discourse percolated through and impacted the functioning of domestic institutions.
This week the burgeoning Silicon Valley start-up Apture announced further media integration possibilities by adding Google Street View to its suite of integrated multimedia options. Apture enables website publishers to add depth to pages and easily surface hand-selected information to elucidate points and add clarity to journalism.
These links allow publishers to incorporate multimedia links —Wikipedia, photo, video, audio, or map— that can improve accountability.
As used by the New York Times, BBC News, Washington Post, and Reuters, Apture efficiently enables media outlets to surface contextual information, and allows users to better understand issues.
For example, Washington Post uses Apture to efficiently reveal Senator voting and disclose financial records. Apture is attempting to facilitate the exposure of public information hidden in hard-to-access formats. Congressional votes, financial records, and floor speeches are publically available, but tedious to access. Using C-SPAN closed captioning data, Apture allows publishers such as the Washington Post to highlight debate, hand-select specific videos of House or Senate floor speeches, and even specify video start-times to pinpoint exact issues.
With health-care bills that are 1, pages long, such specific references become increasingly relevant and useful for anyone seeking fact over annecdote. As the Obama Administration and members of Congress attempt to reform the American health-care system, perhaps tools such as Apture can enable prominent media outlets and citizen journalists alike to surface relevant information with fluidity. As explained by Harvard researcher Tim Hwang, innovator behind the Web Ecology Project:. So while this time around and for most users Twitter may have been a fuzzy news source at best, this is a problem of platform design and available tools, rather than something inherent to the structure of Twitter or its users.
While Twitter offers search, Facebook offers Lexicon to track wall-post trends, and Google offers Insights for Search, the value such services provide will increasingly become reliant on the ability to sift through, and determine what is truly important. Understanding trends may require deeper probing than is currently available through public interfaces, but such probing will likely invoke privacy concerns, impeding the facility of such analysis.
The Internet ecosystem is only growing in its complexity. Platforms that empower citizen journalists can also enable opportunistic marketers. Faster content syndication can help broaden access to information, but it also facilitates spam. Relevance is being conflated with noise, and dissection is intensive. As Google economist Hal Varian stated last week:.
And as Morozov concludes, the Twitter is in the eye of the beholder, and in the understanding of Web Ecology:. A carefully maintained Twitter feed can deliver you information that is far more diverse and interesting than it was in the pre-Twitter day.
State Departments Humanitarian Information Unit to show 3, destroyed villages. For locations, it even features before and after photographs. Exposure of the crisis cannot alone impel action, but perhaps exposure to million Google Earth users will deepen understanding, help citizens exercise a democratic right, apply political pressure, and change policy. The broad use of Google tools is empowering citizen activism, and helping policymakers understand citizen interests.
Prediction markets require players to forecast. Google searches offer a roundabout impression of the world: Google Earth and Internet search analytics do require an understanding of user demography, linguistic preferences, user behavior, and search query context, but understanding what people do on Google provides insight into the geographic concentration and amplitudes of interest.
Search context will determine the scope and direction of interest. Google Earth is relevant in that it extends access to information, and provides citizens with the knowledge that empowers their democratic voice offline.
In Indonesia, polling indicated that Jusuf Kalla would contend for second place in their July Presidential elections. Google Trends contended he would place third, and the latter got the election ordering correct. In this case, Internet search analytics proved more accurate than polling.
The mouse may yet become mightier than the pen, and many are anxious to understand in what ways, and to what extent. The Times attribute the claim that the attack was an extension of the broader Russia-Georgia dispute to Bill Woodcock at Packet Clearing House.
It was not clear who initiated the attack, Mr. Woodcock said the disruptions did not appear to have been caused by a botnet, or network of thousands of malware-infected personal computers.
Rather, he said, at about When recipients clicked on the links, those sites were overwhelmed with requests to access their servers. It is certainly plausible that some group linked to Russia would initiate an online attack near the anniversary of the Russian-Georgian conflict, since DDOS attacks and other online tomfoolery has coincided with other foreign policy disputes that Moscow has been involved in, including attacks against Estonian and Ukrainian sites, and last year DDOS attacks actually preceded Russian military action against Georgia.
In the Estonia case, a leader of the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi claimed credit for the attacks. It is also possible that the role of twitter in recent protests in Iran made the site a juicy target for those trying to make a statement about the role of these technology platforms in foreign affairs.
Cyxymu blames Russia for the attack. The article also cites your humble er, self-promoting blogger on some results from our recent research on the Arabic blogosphere:.
Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere: Politics, Culture, and Dissent Three Case Studies from Switzerland: Smartvote, Electronic Voting, and Political Communication Mapping Iran's Online Public: Politics and Culture in the Persian Blogosphere Madison and the Smart Mob: The Promise and Limitations of the Internet for Democracy Digitally Networked Technology in Kenya's Post-Election Crisis Role of the Internet in Burma's Saffron Revolution The Citizen Journalism Web Site "OhmyNews" and the Korean Presidential Election The Role of Digital Networked Technologies During the Ukrainian Orange Revolution.
Tech Tools Theoretical Democracy Sources Internet and Democracy Sources Sources from "Madison and the Smart Mob". Slackman writes that although Gamal al-Banna been sharing his ideas publicly for years: As we wrote in our paper: