Last week the Elthman and Burns’ article explored the importance of Twitter during the 2009 election in Iran, how different political actors and protestors used the social media site and how political actors responded to its use. While other theorists like Morozov took a negative outlook on the impact of Twitter during the election in Iran, this week’s article “Social Media and the Decision to Participate in Political Protest: Observations From Tahrir Square” by Tufekci and Wilson takes a more middle ground argument on how social media affected Egypt after the resignation of Mubarak. Tufekci and Wilson said, “The emerging public sphere [in Egypt] both drew from and contributed to ofﬂine political activity and should not be analyzed in an either/or fashion,” (p. 366). Tufekci and Wilson’s article collected surveys of protestors’ use of the media during the protests just after Mubarak’s resignation and the demographics of the survey participants. Tufekci and Wilson found that social media took away and added to political participation and that communication about the protests was done through a mixture of means including face-to-face communication, Facebook, phones, and television. Tufekci and Wilson provided research data on the actual usage of a sample of protestors. This takes into account hard data compared to literary analysis and theory. I prefer this kind of study about social media usage and impacts, because it uses data from real protestors. However, I think that an even more accurate study would include interviews with protestors about their experiences with media and political activism, how they use it, how they feel it impacted the situation within Egypt in addition to the survey data from the Tufekci and Wilson article.
How might personal interviews from protestors help to provide a better account of the role social media in political activism in Egypt? Why are the voices of Egyptians important in telling their own stories? How might outside researchers and theorists be unintentionally bias in their accounts of what happened in Egypt?