Why Technology and Science go Hand-in-Hand
The tie between technology and science is an extremely close one. This is due to the fact that they are united by one vital aspect of life; knowledge. Technology is the practical appliance of science, so these two items go hand in hand. Treating it from a knowledge perspective; science is an accumulation of knowledge and the technology is an appliance of the knowledge obtained from science.
Social media and communication as part of technology should perform hand in hand with the capability to mobilize populace. It is too easy to merely “Friend” or “Like” a movement on Facebook and retreat is never enough”. The problem is to get outside, as the demonstrators in Egypt, Tunisia or Libya know too well. However, revolutions did not appear simultaneously with the appearance of the social media and currentsocial networks, such as Facebook, created by Mark Zuckerberg or Twitter, established by Jack Dorsey. And the finest example of this is the Republic of Letters. Nevertheless, advocates of the novel technology assert that in spite of the fact that there were triumphant revolutions before the phone appearance, phones and social media helped revolutionists to accomplish far better results.
Democracy and Communication in the 21st Century
Among the 193 nations in the world, which are recognized by the UN, 123 are claimed to be democratic. Therefore, more than half of those nations have set up a form of government, which is characterized by “the participation of its populace”, under whatever form that may be. Democracies are concentrated on the “rule of law”. Ancient Greeks (predominantly Aristotle) appreciated natural law, the idea that societies should be ruled by ethical ideas discovered in nature. The Greeks are well-known for utilizing the direct democracy, an approach in which people meet to negotiate all policy, and then make decisions by the majority rule. Nevertheless, only free men were considered to be citizens. So, the democracy was extremely limited. Today, some nations are still fighting for their democratic rights. And they are successfully fighting with the help of communication technology and social networks.
Communication technology presupposes the electronic systems utilized for communication between people. Communication technology eases communication between human beings, who are not physically present at the same place. Systems like telephones, radio, television, telex, fax, and video are counted, as well as more current computer technologies, comprising electronic information interchange and e-mail.
The Middle Eastern Context
In 2011, “Arab Spring” revolution, communication technology, and social media networks played a crucial role in the fast breakdown of at least two regimes, in Tunisia and Egypt, also causing the sociopolitical mobilization in Syria and Bahrain. In Egypt, the sociopolitical break between the tiny ruling leaders and the populace had long reached the upper levels, hinting the experts on the area to foresee a huge disturbance at some point. Nevertheless, the fact that the crisis happened sooner rather than later with direct aftereffects in Tunisia, was mainly due to the “initial mobilizing impacts of ICT and the social media networks”. The protests were initiated by a Facebook campaign managed by the opposing group “April 6 Youth Movement” that generated thousands of positive replies to the call to unite against administration policies.
Clay Shirky in his article “The Political Power of Social Media” describes the main role of a civil society: “it is vital to consider whether the administration is an autocracy or democracy”. Thus, far in the Middle East, Tunisia is one example, where a social-media-tinged rebellion has productively ousted a tyrant. This does not mean the social media cannot be helpful in getting democracy, but if a despotic leader is possessing a desire to harshly oppose (as in Syria) and if outside nations do not interfere (as in Libya), social media can have less influence than people would anticipate in taking democracy to the Middle East. It is also important to consider the level of Web penetration, and whether administration controls the Web infrastructure: clearly, in nations with low Web penetration, it is much harder to utilize the Internet to assemble local masses, though it may still be an instrument to gather a global support. In Libya, where the administration controlled the Web and telephony, it was simpler to block usage of social media than in the nation where all telecommunications were privatized.
Everybody agrees that social media add novel arrows to quivers of the social activists. The social media may be useful in: a) mobilizing demonstrators quickly; b) discouragement a regime’s legitimacy; or c) escalating country’s and global exposure to a regime’s violence. Any usage of the social media is likely to be much more victorious in a nation, which has a certain form of democracy; so far, the result of Ben Ali (Tunisia) is the single instance where people of social networks have non-aggressively expelled a dictator.
Those people, who would declare a restricted role for the Web and digital technologies make two main errors:
- First, they treat this information from the scientific point of view. They think that it communicates something that was not already recognized, or provides the instant and short-term influence on the action, the capability to move the mechanism.
- Second, though they blame some people of being naive in providing too much significance to technology, they actually project “Western” representation of nuclear-individual-on-laptop onto the public structures that do not work that way with everything.
Philip N. Howard, associate professor of communication at the University of Washington, and other researchers have analyzed the millions of tweets, blog posts and YouTube videos and made a conclusion that “social media played a crucial role in forming political negotiations in the Arab Spring. The evidence asserts social media carried a flow of messages about liberty and democracy across the Middle East and North Africa, and assisted in raising the prospect for the victory of political rebellion. Individuals who shared democratic concern, built wide social networks and established political action. Social media became a vital part of a toolkit for liberty”.
Malcolm Gladwell notices in “The Revolution Will Not be Tweeted” that “victorious social movements pre-dated social media”. He discusses the importance of social media in mid-east revolutions and declares that the opposition could have organized in other ways, asserting East Germany reversed an administration when only thirteen percent had landline telephones.
The Republic of Letters
Another perfect example of the revolution before the appearance of the current social networks is the Republic of Letters or Respublica Literaria. It was the intellectual community in the 17th and 18th century in Europe and the USA. It nurtured communication between the scholars of Age of Enlightenment - “philosophers” as they were named in France. The Republic of Letters appeared in the 17th century as a self-proclaimed society of literary figures and scholars, which stretched across country borders but respected dissimilarities in culture and language.
The exchange of handwritten letters was important for the function of Republic of Letters since it enabled people to correspond to one another from the large distances. All people of the seventeenth century Republic of Letters corresponded by handwritten letters, switched issued pamphlets and papers, and considered it the responsibility to bring other people into the Republic with the help of the increase of the correspondence.
Right after the creation of printing with the moveable type, Republic of Letters became directly identified with press. This press also played a huge role in the creation of a community of researchers who could simply communicate the findings through the evolvement of widely distributed journals. Due to the press, the authorship became more significant and commercial.
The French and English periodicals also had a strong impact on the American letters. During the period, the diversity of institutions utilized for transmitting thoughts not existing in the USA. Aside from the basically arbitrarily collected booksellers’ stocks, an infrequent international correspondence, and the publisher’s advertisements to be discovered in the back of books, the single way intellectuals could preserve alive the philosophical interests was with the help of the reporting in journals.
The model of the Republic of Letters was a sum of an amount of Enlightenment ideals: a democratic realm ruled by knowledge, which could act across political limits and foe state power. According to Susan Dalton, it used to be a forum, which supported “free public assessment of issues regarding legislation or religion”. Kant considered handwritten communication crucial to his idea of the public area; when everybody was an element of “reading public”, then the public could be asserted to be enlightened. People who took part in the Republic of Letters, for instance, Voltaire and Diderot, are known nowadays as significant Enlightenment figures. Indeed, the people who created Diderot’s Encyclopédie perhaps shaped a microcosm of a larger “republic”.
The wave of mass protests, which swept through the Middle East in early 2011 painted the separate role of current information-communication technologies and digital social media networks. The influence of these technologies was felt internationally influencing developed and developing countries. Whilst the “Arab Spring” can point to a phenomenon of fresh mass types of sociopolitical protest eased by the social media networks, chiefly in regard to the communication and organizational parts, it should also create some major reservations concerning the appliance of any ”direct lessons” to the other sociopolitical and regional contexts. It is extremely difficult to confirm whether a rebellion would or would not have occurred barring the existence of social media (nations do not usually offer themselves up for such experimentations). But, there may be some useful lessons about some significant dimensions in acknowledging how successful social media can be.
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