Since reading Manuel Castell’s article “Networks of Outrage and Hope: social movements in the internet age,” Wael Ghonin’s reflection  in Revolution 2.0 has taken on a new meaning. Castell’s analysis of the power of the internet to lead leaderless movements completely changes the way I view Revolution 2.0. Ghonin’s supports a variety of different revolutionary movements across Egypt- all from far away. He even creates websites so that a place exists where interested parties can get involved. He is both a leader and a supporter. On one level, he leads through his creation of resources and his instrumental use of the internet, while on another he is a bystander because he is not on the ground and is not trying to control the message.

After reading Castell’s article I can think of another way the internet can be perceived as a useful tool for movements. In Castell’s article he makes a big distinction between movements before the internet’s development and the ones nowadays: the biggest change is the lack of leaders in movements today. He justifies this change by explaining that with the internet you don’t necessarily need one leader, but rather you can have smaller movements led by different people under the guise of one ideology. Reflecting on Ghonin’s work, I think there can be another type of leader within the internet age, one that leads by example and who helps set up resources for those who might not have access to them. Here the internet is both the tool and the intermediary between him and the local leaders. Within this paradigm, Ghonin becomes somewhat of a consultant.


2 responses »

  1. lagray700 says:

    I totally agree, after reading Castell’s piece I also view Revolution 2.0 in a different way. I often associate the internet with negativity in terms of social movements because I feel like it allows uninformed people to say whatever they want (therefore ignorance spreads), but when thinking about social movements and the internet through Castell’s lens (internet as power and as help for leaderless movements) I really think that my view of the internet is in a way too pessimistic. The internet has opened so many doors for social change.

  2. jivikar says:

    Yes, the internet and social media may not be the answer to all our problems but definitely provides a new platform through which we may come closer to answering the questions we have. I view Ghonim’s role as that of a lead mobilizer. He may not have been physically present with the protesters but did actively cause their coming together. We may not need quite so many physical leaders if the internet is to continue to being a facilitator of dialogue / action / change, but we will definitely be needing more and more digitally savvy mobilizers who know how to leverage the power of social media to recruit people, and then to support these new recruits as well.

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