IS Quality and the Internet Revolution: The Arab Spring Uprising experience of 2011

10 Feb

The Arab Spring Uprising experience of 2011

Much has been talked about regarding Information System Quality, nonetheless, I would like to bring our attention to the role which Information System played in collaboration with computer aided Internet, and social networking in creating positive mobilisation for political and social change in the Arab world. I will support my view point with some relevant articles and the narratives from a scholarly publication in an international journal of communication (2011), bearing the title; “The Egyptian Experience: Sense and Nonsense of the Internet Revolution”, published by Miriyam Aouragh of Oxford University, and Anne Alexnder of University of Cambridge.

As part of Information System Quality; the Internet, Facebook, and other Social Media Network were used to disseminate information and mobilise the people in the Arab nations to rise against dictatorship government, operations, social injustice, and human rights abuse in the region. It all started with Tunisia in 2010 when the president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced to step down by angry protesters due to the fatal self-immolation by Mohamed Bouazizi a street vendor who was protesting his mistreatment by local officials. This protest in Tunisia motivated people in Egypt to take to the streets demanding political reform which in turn forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign his 30 years of dictatorship rule. In the same manner, the strongest and most stubborn leader Africa in history- Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya was ousted and killed in October 2011. This Arab protest had a chain reaction and thereby, spread through to Morocco, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia respectively. http://www.thejournal.ie/in-pictures-the-arab-spring-uprisings-of-2011-310383-Dec2011/#slide-slideshow1

According to the writers, it is important to separate the use of Internet as a tool by people                                               seeking to achieve change from below, and the Internet’s role as a space to articulate collective dissent. They suggested three main points; the need to go beyond the debate between utopian and dystopian perspective regarding the role of Internet in political change, a change from perspectives that isolate Internet from other media by reviewing the synergy between social media and satellite broadcasters during the uprising, and also, to have an understanding of the dialectical relationship between online and offline political action.

They tend to agree with Morozov’s (2011) argument that, a government threatened with revolution would just pull the plug on the Internet, but that wouldn’t stop the protest either, and cannot prevent the protesters from communicating. The writers disagree with what they call false polarization of utopian/dystopian views of the Internet, rather they accept that  Internet is a product of imperialist and capitalist logics, and a thing that millions use in their efforts to resist those logics. They propose a dialectical relationship between online and offline political action. They finally supported their argument with a quote from Lenin that, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

Blog Egypt protest 2011

Egyptians celebrate after President Hosni Mubarak resigned and handed power to the military at Tahrir Square on 11 February. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra/PA Images)

To conclude on the above episode, I agree and disagree with some of the views expressed in the paper. I agree that Internet alone cannot mobilise people without the active presence of the activists and the folks who stormed the streets of Cairo Egypt. On the other hand, I disagree with the quote from Morozov (2011) as stated above. If any government pulls the plug of the Internet, they will automatically disable the flow of communication through the Internet, and that will create a huge impact in disrupting all plans towards action. It makes big news whenever America observes that Internet-Hackers have infiltrated their national or military classified documents through the Internet of course. Finally, I could recollect that during the revolution of 2011 in Egypt, it was reported that mobilisation of the folks to rise against the 30 years of dictatorship by Hosni Mubarak started with the Facebook. Egyptians responded to that call throughout the whole world, and the effect was disastrous to Mubarak and his allies.  The dismantle of Mubarak’s throne was a display of the good qualities Information systems can deliver.

Sources:

  1. http://www.thejournal.ie/in-pictures-the-arab-spring-uprisings-of-2011-310383-Dec2011/#slide-slideshow1
  1. AOURAGH, M. Oxford University; ALEXANDER, A. University of Cambridge: The Egyptian Experience: Sense and Nonsense of the Internet Revolution.

International Journal of Communication 5 (2011), Feature 1344-1358 1932–8036/2011FEA1344

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