Net Effects in Moldova

via b|zzare's photostream

One of the great things about teaching about digital democracy is that every week there is a new story about the effect of the Internet on global politics. This week was no exception. 10,000 students emerged in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau to protest the communist government. One of my favorite new blogs, Foreign Policy's Net Effect, hosted by my friend Evgeny Morozov, has a great overview of the role Twitter played in keeping the Moldova protests popular online [for a while the Twitter handle #pman, short for the biggest square in Chisinau, was listed as one of Twitter's Trending Topics].

As he notes at the start of the post, Evgeny seems to find my Berkman Center paper on the role of technology in Ukraine's Orange Revolution to suffer from a bout of cyber-optimism. This is certainly not the case. My thesis of the paper is to challenge those like Michael McFaul who argue that "the Orange Revolution may have been the first in history to be organized largely online." I argue that:
In the case of Ukraine it is evident that pro-democracy forces used the Internet and cell phones more effectively than the pro-government forces, such that in this specific time and place these technologies weighed in on the side of democracy.
The successful revolution in the Ukraine was the product of really good organizers who leveraged technology to be more effective than they would have otherwise been. A few hours after his original post, Evgeny provided a great bit of follow-up analysis by pointing out the different role that technology played this week in Moldova and those five years ago in Ukraine.



  • hey Josh - am not sure if you saw my essay in Boston Review

    which I think presents a slightly more sophisticated critique of your paper :-)

    By Anonymous Evgeny, at 11:21 AM  

  • Them students are not out for democracy, in any of the common definitions (Communism, incidentally, being the better approximation of that "democracy").
    They out for the band-wagon effect. Explains why it's these impressionable wee kids out there, anyway (in most such "revolutions"). Ask them what democracy they want, and they'll mumble incoherent approximations of the Manifesto.

    Don't give these silly kids, powered by Western money and adoration for a system they only know superficially ("the system of the ones who make Coca-Cola!!!") any attention. They don't know why they are out there. Any assumptions you make that assume they are out for "democracy" are wrong.

    They are out to get laid. Or to seem worth getting laid to others who may or may not be out there. Look at them faces again and tell me what you think. Band-wagonism is stupid, especially in this change-provoking form, if only because they'd just as soon flood the streets for Nazism and to take part in an American-style lynching.
    My point is that they are not after democracy. It's another issue. Net effects, perhaps, but not democracy.

    Now I hope the military tanks show up soon enough (and, this time, they shouldn't go 'round that idiot who shows up).

    Also, hi! :o)

    By Blogger The 27th Comrade, at 4:48 AM  

  • indeed. I'll have a look at the article. Keep up the good work!

    By Blogger Joshua, at 12:13 PM  

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