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Communications The Internet Technology

How Killing the Internet Helped Revolutionaries 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the anything-that-gets-people-off-twitter-has-to-help dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a widely circulated American Political Science Association conference paper, Yale scholar Navid Hassanpour argues that shutting down the internet made things difficult for sustaining a centralized revolutionary movement in Egypt. But, he adds, the shutdown actually encouraged the development of smaller revolutionary uprisings at local levels where the face-to-face interaction between activists was more intense and the mobilization of inactive lukewarm dissidents was easier. In other words, closing down the internet made the revolution more diffuse and more difficult for the authorities to contain." As long as we're on the subject, reader lecheiron points out news of research into predicting revolutions by feeding millions of news articles into a supercomputer and using word analysis to chart national sentiment. So far it's pretty good at predicting things that have already happened, but we should probably wait until it finds something new before contacting Hari Seldon.
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How Killing the Internet Helped Revolutionaries

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:19PM (#37357202)

    Just hit Google News with the phrase "after Friday prayers"

    Of course, that will probably return a million hits on whatever the latest public disruption is, so instead limit the search to a one or two week window. Then search the previous couple weeks, and the previous couple weeks. It won't take long at all so see a solid and lengthy trend forming...

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:34PM (#37357932) Journal

      Taht's well and good (though sadly incomplete) for Mideast nations, but what of places like, say...

      * mostly Hindu India
      * mostly Catholic Philippines, ]South America , Ireland, etc.
      * mostly Atheist/Confucian/Buddhist China
      * mostly Animistic or mixed-religion nations throughout Africa
      * mostly Protestant UK, ...and etc ?

      May want to skip the whole prayer thing altogether once you start considering that many movements (esp. those of the left-leaning ideological persuasion ) are pretty much religion-free.

      Props on the Foundation reference in TFS, though.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @08:30PM (#37358798)

        It's no surprise that people who congregate can be threats to an oppressive regime. In societies with particular fearful rulers weekly prayers (mass, temple, etc) would be the only public meetings not easily suppressed. Stalin got away with it, and it's said that Hitler bought out the ones he couldn't bully. The regimes that don't fully suppress religion (or other gatherings, even sports), can find those places as ignition to chaos, and even committed atheists might find the time to attend the only meeting they can.

        However, studies have shown that many 'on the left' are likely even christian enough for your standards, claiming as you do is just lousy. Rather than saying rude things online, maybe you can go beat your children. As we all know that tea baggers are apt for it (or so I've heard).

        • by Penguinisto (415985) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @09:58AM (#37361996) Journal

          It's no surprise that people who congregate can be threats to an oppressive regime. In societies with particular fearful rulers weekly prayers (mass, temple, etc) would be the only public meetings not easily suppressed. Stalin got away with it, and it's said that Hitler bought out the ones he couldn't bully. The regimes that don't fully suppress religion (or other gatherings, even sports), can find those places as ignition to chaos, and even committed atheists might find the time to attend the only meeting they can.

          Good point, but you yourself missed something overall: Certainly, atheists may congregate under the guise of prayer or such, but we were talking about monitoring news trends. If all you do is have your software eyeball prayer meetings (esp. just those phrased towards the Islamic Friday prayers, since Christians do it on Sunday and others do it whenever), you're going to miss it - which was my entire point.

          Even if you're just eyeballing public meetings, you're going to miss it - most revolutionary meetings nowadays are going to be clandestine, and outside of Islam, aren't necessarily going to be centered around praying.

          But sure, get all butt-hurt and lash out - there's a kernel of good idea in your first post, but you're still doing it all *wrong* by focusing on only one tiny aspect of a much larger picture.

      • by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday September 09, 2011 @08:38PM (#37358870)

        I don't know about the rest, but the UK is easy: revolution will never happen there. There's never even been anything close to a successful revolution there, and the inhabitants now probably couldn't even imagine such a thing. IIRC, the last "revolution" there was the Northern Rebellion and Pilgrimage of Grace during Henry VIII's reign, and that wasn't much of a revolt, they mainly were just protesting, and then they were such sheep that they were easily slaughtered by the King's soldiers after they naively believed his lies about establishing a special Parliament to hear their grievances about the dissolution of the monasteries. That was almost half a millennium ago.

        It doesn't matter what their government does to them, the English people will never revolt.

  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:19PM (#37357206)
    If you're like me you don't generally like the government I got loads of complaints with the state of the government in the USA but do I really do much about it? No I'm too busy with my job, friends and other stuff. Plus lets face it things aren't that bad here despite all the dire stuff they put on the news. But if the government suddenly turned off my porn and tv shows plus slashdot and various other sites I habitually use I'd be up in arms pounding on my congressman's door maybe even joining a riot if the mood was right.
    • by crow (16139) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:28PM (#37357306) Homepage Journal

      "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

      It's been recognized for generations that people won't rebel against a government for light reasons. As long as people have food and jobs to keep them busy, they'll tolerate quite a bit of oppression.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:52PM (#37357572)

        "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

        It's been recognized for generations that people won't rebel against a government for light reasons. As long as people have food and jobs to keep them busy, they'll tolerate quite a bit of oppression.

        The thing is, the Internet is both a "bread and circuses" sort of distraction and - to a younger generation (and to use Western generational/cultural identifiers, because those are the only ones I know), the Internet is more than what "TV" was to their Boomer parents. It's more akin to what "church" was to their Silent grandparents: where everybody goes to interact, not merely distract. Governments, typically being composed of older-generation folks, don't seem to understand that yet.

        Hence, the meme that started with the Egyptian riots: If the government shuts down your internet [tumblr.com], shut down your government. [stabilitees.com]

      • by Synerg1y (2169962) on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:53PM (#37358104)

        The internet was the least of their concerns, Egypt had a secret police department similar to the Nazi's... usually when something like this happens, revolt is next, see in America, you can sit on your couch and fear the FBI will bust in and take w/e they came for and take you to jail... not a torture chamber, if your going to die because of your government, might as well do something about it right?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @07:27PM (#37358296)

          see in America, you can sit on your couch and fear the FBI will bust in and take w/e they came for and take you to jail... not a torture chamber

          Right, the enhanced interrogation chamber is like going to Club Med. Only a few of the Muslims rounded up right after 9/11 have talked about what happened. These people disappeared and were treated horribly. No one ever was held accountable, so I know it will happen again. Likely, I'm a white male, so I'm probably safe.

      • "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

        It's been recognized for generations that people won't rebel against a government for light reasons. As long as people have food and jobs to keep them busy, they'll tolerate quite a bit of oppression.

        Indeed -- I think governments in general need a large, complacent middle class, and the Democrats were well on the way to achieving it in the US, until it was undermined by Nixon and the rest of the neo-conservatives who followed after him. Too bad, really -- if the current crop of paleocons and Christian dominionist nutbars have their way, they are going to dismantle all the things that have helped create that large, complacent middle class. If they are successful, America will step off the world stage, and be remembered as only a failed experiment in democracy.

        • by StopKoolaidPoliticsT (1010439) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @02:50AM (#37360558)
          There was a large complacent middle class from the very beginning of America... Only about a third of the country, led largely by the upper class, whom had the most to gain but also the most to lose, wanted to revolt against England. Another third, again, largely led by the upper class that were scared to lose, wanted to continue our relationship with England. The final third didn't really care, they just wanted to be left alone to do their thing.

          Anyway, at the time, we had the very wealthy - large plantation owners, the very poor - slaves, indentured servants and the like, and a large middle class made up of independent businessmen and the help they hired. That held true up until the 20th century, when the government decided that it needed to become involved in the business of redistributing the wealth as a reaction to the extreme wealth created by the industrial revolution, largely due to a fad regarding Marx, Engels and such.

          The post-WWII boom wasn't created by the policies of Wilson, FDR, LBJ or whatever progressive hero you have, it was created by the simple fact that most of the factories in the rest of the industrial world were destroyed by war and Europe, Eastern Asia and the like had to rely on the unscathed factories of the United States and Canada to rebuild. It was only natural that, as the manufacturing capacity of Europe and Asia were rebuilt, that the United States would decline. You've been trained to blaim the policies of Nixon, but it was simply the duration of the rebound of the first world economy outside of the Americas.

          What we had done in the meantime, was create numerous entitlement programs which, especially regarding the Great Society, were unsustainable. Specifically in the case of the Great Society, with welfare, Medicaid, Medicare and the like, Congress decided to raid the Social Security Trust Fund (via an Amendment in 1967) to paper over the huge costs, which had far exceeded CBO projections prior to passage. The truth is, in addition to taxes, inflation, and bonds, Congress was raiding the other "lock boxed" source of income, largely so they could continue to lie to people, telling us that we could afford something they already knew would bankrupt us. They lied and they were either retired or dead before people began to catch on - but they got to stay in office longer, having duped the masses.

          So, by all means, blame Nixon. Blame Ford, Reagan, Bush and Bush if you want to... but be sure to blame Obama, Clinton, Carter, LBJ, JFK, Eisenhower, Truman, FDR, Hoover, Wilson and TR too, since they all contributed to our current problems in their own way. Don't be a partisan hack and pretend all the problems fall on one side or even one President, because they were all involved. More importantly, don't forget their Congresses, since the President can't introduce legislation on their own and all spending, in particular, must originate in the House.

          Be sure to blame the unions too... for demanding more than what was responsible in the long term, but like the 1967 Congress that authorized raiding the Social Security Trust Fund, blame the union leadership for cashing in on what they knew was unsustainable so they could maintain and grow their own power, influence and pocketbooks. Likewise, blame the executives that capitulated to them.

          Under the guise of redistribution of wealth, you end up with two classes - the rich that have the money to defend themselves, and the poor, who demand everything from anyone else. It's the middle class, which has enough money to provide for themselves but not enough money to defend themselves, that suffer from the powers that demanding wealth redistribution, be it the government or the special interest groups that advocate it. It's also the natural result of converting the government from a body solely meant to protect our rights into a body out to seek reparations from one group on behalf of another.
      • by Hadlock (143607) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @07:57PM (#37364910) Homepage Journal

        It's been recognized for generations that people won't rebel against a government for light reasons. As long as people have food and jobs to keep them busy, they'll tolerate quite a bit of oppression.

        Cuba's been extremely successful with this, as has southern Mexico. Liquor prices are suspiciously low in both countries. Hell, if Oaxaca (s. mexico) stopped protesting about being oppressed, they might get worried they were planning some big revolution.

    • by Machtyn (759119) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:36PM (#37357398) Homepage Journal
      Agreed. While our freedoms have not been completely stripped, making us the frog in the slowly boiling water, we have been contented with our current freedoms and, more especially, our conveniences to be able to do anything about anything. Half of us vote, sometimes. Fewer than that know why they are voting for whom they vote. Fewer than that are actually properly informed about the candidates for whom they are voting for and against.

      Still, there is a slow momentum of dissatisfaction with the US government and the current state of social affairs. It is being shown in various ways - the rise of the TEA party. Even though Pelosi, et al, may think this is not a grass roots movement, it is. The back and forth issue with Prop 8 in California. The rise in CCW licenses and survivalist purchases (food storage and other things). Roaming, violent flash mobs. The growing popularity of libertarianism. All these things say to me that there is a movement afoot.

      None of the sides have been able to grab the populace's attention long enough to make a sustained effort to gain control and move this ship in one direction or another. The Dems made strides in 2006 because of massive dissatisfaction with Bush and his policies. Obama was elected on this wave. He was such an atrociously bad leader the Dems were thrown out in 2010 and Obama will likely (hopefully) be thrown out in 2012. But who's to say that even if the Repubs gain any control in the House, that the tide won't shift back to the Dems in 2014? It seems this pendulum is swinging farther in either direction instead of slowing down to a centrist point so that our leaders can agree on some things and make our society progress.
      • by osu-neko (2604) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:53PM (#37357578)

        It seems this pendulum is swinging farther in either direction instead of slowing down to a centrist point so that our leaders can agree on some things and make our society progress.

        This demonstrates the weakness of our two party system. When people are dissatisfied with both parties, they really have nowhere else to turn. So they simply turn against whichever of the two has pissed them off most recently. In communist nations, you can vote, but there's only one party to vote for. In America, there's two which really aren't that far apart on most things, despite their efforts to play up and play on each other's minor differences, making us only slightly more democratic...

      • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:12PM (#37357754) Journal

        Well there are plenty out there that don't vote because they know its pointless which it really is. I know every time i'm just throwing my vote away by voting green, but what choice do I have? you have Obama, the biggest spineless sellout the dems have had since Jimmy "I ain't got no backbone!" Carter, and the reps look like they'll run Perry, which is REALLY scary, as the man actually makes dubya look like a good leader. have you SEEN the stats for Texas under Perry? Yikes.

        Oh and sadly the tea party WAS grass roots, but ever since the "tea party express" or the teabagger central as i call it, took over it has been the Koch bros all the way. All you have to do is follow the money and look at the platform, anything the Koch bros want? the teabagger central is pushing.

        So I say lay back and enjoy the ride. be sure to have canned food and cash money, and if you are in an area that allows them a gun would probably be a safe bet, as the country she'll be going under, i give it maybe 10 years tops. You can't send all the jobs overseas, allow free trade with countries that don't allow the same for US goods (like China and soon thanks to Nobama we'll have "The NAFTA of the Pacific") and even Nobama's fabled "green jobs" are going to China and the third world, as witnessed by that solar panel plant that just closed here to set up there. Why? They can't compete with two dollars a day labor and Chinese subsidized utilities and housing.

        So if you want to see what will happen in 10 to 15 years? it'll either be the USSR or Libya. Either the old guard will quietly give up (fat chance me thinks) or like Libya when it all collapses and a truckload of money won't buy a dozen eggs people will be raiding the national guard and making technicals. Sadly I'm betting on the second one, as one thing we have seen lately the rich here have a real "let them eat cake!" attitude. But the poor outnumber them by over 100,000 to 1 and that number is growing by the minute as the middle class is wiped out. So enjoy while you can, because we can't print free money forever.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @10:52PM (#37359682)
          Speaking from this side of the fence, I'm looking at the momentum and I don't think Perry is going to last. It'll most likely be Mitt Romney unless something comes out of left field. Many Republicans are starting to wake up and see what Perry is all about. (It really is scary for the Republicans.)

          I do have to disagree about the Tea Party Express being the only one in town. There is also the FreedomWorks which seem a little misguided to me. Plus every state has some variant of 2 or 3 tea party factions. Yes, TPE is one of the bigger ones out there, but they haven't been able to convince Palin to run.
      • by jfz (917930) on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:24PM (#37357846)
        He was such an atrociously bad leader _for the opposition party_. There, fixed that for you. I don't think there was an solution that Obama offered where he didn't have to pull Republican's along kicking and screaming, along with foaming at the mouth and wild accusations and so forth. I would like to be proven wrong however.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:42PM (#37357444)

      No you won't. You will find alternate ways to kill your time.

    • by morari (1080535) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:48PM (#37357530) Journal

      Exactly.

      People will be perfectly content with whatever happens, so long as they have their Feelies and Orgy Porgies. The government doesn't need to burn books when no one bothers to read them in the first place.

    • by Hatta (162192) on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:08PM (#37357714) Journal

      The government DID turn off my recreation, and is more than happy to incarcerate me for years on end if I just try to have a little fun. From my point of view, there's very little difference between America banning Cannabis and Iran banning western music/TV.

    • by quickgold192 (1014925) on Friday September 09, 2011 @07:12PM (#37358210)

      I'd be up in arms pounding on my congressman's door

      I don't actually know where my congressman's door is, and without the internet I'm not sure I'd be able to find it.

    • by bjourne (1034822) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @07:25AM (#37361420) Homepage Journal

      But if the government suddenly turned off my porn and tv shows plus slashdot and various other sites I habitually use I'd be up in arms pounding on my congressman's door maybe even joining a riot if the mood was right.

      Sounds like a very empty and shallow life if porn and tv shows are the most important things you have.

  • by macraig (621737) <(mark.a.craig) (at) (gmail.com)> on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:20PM (#37357210)

    If some supercomputer analyzed my public writings, it would recognize that I've been keeping the pitchfork I made out of the old plowshare handy by the back door for some time now. I ate the oxen quite a while back when Monsanto took my fields away, so it's not like I had any other use for it.

    • by Surt (22457) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:33PM (#37357366) Homepage Journal

      Pitchforks are less effective against predator drones than you'd imagine. Soon the cost of predators will be so low the US government will have one available to kill every single citizen, should the need arise.

      • by matunos (1587263) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:41PM (#37357432)

        Ah, but that means every single citizen will be able to afford a predator drone of their own!

        • by osu-neko (2604) on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:01PM (#37357654)

          Ah, but that means every single citizen will be able to afford a predator drone of their own!

          This, in a nutshell, is the serious problem society faces today. Our technology is advancing to the point where individuals can gain power one reserved for nation states. The feared "doomsday weapon" isn't going to be deployed by some trigger happy Cold War general or military accident, it's going to be deployed by someone extremist in his garage.

        • by Flyerman (1728812) on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:04PM (#37357674) Journal

          Unless they decide that drones don't fall under the second amendment.

          • by kbensema (1868742) on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:30PM (#37357902)
            The assumption that rebel forces can obtain only that military hardware their previous government allowed them amuses me. Should a popular overthrow of a government become necessary, the criminal element will supply the weapons. Capitalism is interesting like that.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 10, 2011 @01:11AM (#37360270)

              The "criminal element" in totalitarian and authoritarian societies tend to be co-opted by the powers very early on. It is much more profitable for the criminals to cooperate with the oppressive government than with the oppressed citizens. There are too many examples to count, and it is sometimes hard to tell the "criminal" contingent from the government officials. BTW, the same works in democracies as well, only less openly. You may have heard that Vova Puten and Silvio Berlusconi owe their beautiful relationship to the hard work of high-ranking FSB officials and mafia dons. But forget Europe and Asia, who armed the famous US anti-British rebellion? Criminals or France?

              So, no, you're very wrong. If it comes to rebelling and provision of weapons for the said rebels, you can be reasonably sure that the only somewhat reliable source of weaponry for the anti-government groups would be a foreign power that has political reasons, will and means to oppose the regime in question. Of course, the goals of such power will rarely match with the goals of the rebels.

              Case in point - current events in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt - where the rebels were funded by NATO countries, but actually what is happening is that relatively moderate or outright secular Islamic dictatorships are being replaced by "republics" that embrace Sharia laws.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 10, 2011 @01:28AM (#37360332)

      Monsanto should be burned down. Watch this:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvGddgHRQyg
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-ouf_gmA5o

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:20PM (#37357216)

    I predict a revolution in the USA before 2013. Let's see if their supercomputer agrees and if I'm right...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:20PM (#37357218)

    FUCK YEAG!

  • by gmuslera (3436) * on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:21PM (#37357224) Homepage Journal

    Unless you have a monopoly of that technology and don't use it to predict if your population will revolt, it would not give accurate predictions, as if he predicts something dangerous you will take measures to avoid it. That puts that kind of technology in a gray-to-dark area. Are them instruments of opression for your population or of allied countries? Or to attack/unstabilize another countries if they don't warn about that upcoming events?

    If you guess the future and do nothing about it you are somewhat safe, but if know the future and can affect it, weird things like killer blue butterflies happens.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:22PM (#37357236)
    The Internet is loaded with ways for people to distract themselves and find escape. Take that away, and people are both angry about losing their distractions and have a bunch of free time to talk to each other and to look around at the various ways their government mistreats them.
  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:25PM (#37357270) Homepage
    Shutting down the internet had two other results: It made people in Egypt who were not involved in the revolution sit up and take notice. This especially applied to some of the higher income people in Cairo who used the internet for both entertainment and business. Also, shutting down the internet made the rest of the world a lot more sympathetic to the Egyptian revolutionaries. Shutting down the internet is such an obvious, massive form of censorship that it immediately becomes clear to a lot of people that the people doing it are doing a bad thing. It wouldn't surprise me if in thirty or forty years shutting down the internet will itself be considered a form of crime against humanity.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:26PM (#37357284)

    Far
    We've been travelling far
    Without a home
    But not without a star

    Free
    Only want to be free
    We huddle close
    Hang on to a dream

    On the boats and on the planes
    They're coming to America
    Never looking back again
    They're coming to America

    Home, don't it seem so far away
    Oh, we're travelling light today
    In the eye of the storm
    In the eye of the storm

    Home, to a new and a shiny place
    Make our bed, and we'll say our grace
    Freedom's light burning warm
    Freedom's light burning warm

    Everywhere around the world
    They're coming to America
    Every time that flag's unfurled
    They're coming to America

    Got a dream to take them there
    They're coming to America
    Got a dream they've come to share
    They're coming to America

    They're coming to America
    They're coming to America
    They're coming to America
    They're coming to America
    Today, today, today, today, today

    My country 'tis of thee
    (Today)
    Sweet land of liberty
    (today)
    Of thee I sing
    (today)
    Of thee I sing
    (today)

    (today)

    (today)

    (today

  • by Fned (43219) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:30PM (#37357334) Journal

    If BART had left the cellphone repeaters on during the first protest, most of us would have all forgotten about it by now.

    As it stands, there are now protests planned every single week into the indefinite future.

    Not being able to communicate with their phones has not, it seems, prevented the protestors from using the calendar function on their phones...

  • by Meshach (578918) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:31PM (#37357344)
    I think that the Internet is just a means to an end. The people were angry and ready to revolt. Lots of revolutions (Soviet Union dismantling, American Revolution...) happened without the Internet present. When people are angry enough word gets out.
    • by migla (1099771) on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:21PM (#37357822)

      Agreed.

      I've also heard it claimed (On the TV-show Kobra on Swedish public service TV), that it would be more accurate to say these were Al Jazeera revolutions rather than Twitter- or Facebook- or Internet-revolutions, in that access to real journalism (People from the US might want to check out the BBC for an example of what I'm talking about) for the masses had a bigger impact than the speedier communications of whatever percentage of people that would Facebook or Twitter.

      I don't know, but it does sound like a reasonable claim to me.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 10, 2011 @06:00AM (#37361176)

      I think that the Internet is just a means to an end. The people were angry and ready to revolt. Lots of revolutions (Soviet Union dismantling, American Revolution...) happened without the Internet present. When people are angry enough word gets out.

      Absolutely. For the Russians, it was Samizdat ("self-publishing" via fax machines). For American Revolutionaries it was snail-mail via the postal service...the 18th century's version of the 'net.

      sr

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 10, 2011 @12:27PM (#37362764)

      Shutting the internet was a catalyst to escalate the situation as the article states, that it was not a reason is obvious to everyone here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:31PM (#37357352)

    As "how the internet helped killing revolutionaries"?

  • by matunos (1587263) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:34PM (#37357382)

    ...you know the rest.

  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:37PM (#37357406)
    Communication technology goes both ways, it's a tool. There is no simple clear cut answer whether it's good or evil it is equally available. We love to paint things broadly with a black or white brush and that's what's happened after the middle easy uprising and the London riots. One seeing praise for open communication, one seeing suggestions twitter and blackberry PIN messaging should have been turned off.

    In reality really pissed off people will find a way to fight back. Taking a step back here, ultimately cutting off the communication network is not going to do much because that is not the actual cause, rather a mildly helpful catalyst. It's just an easy target for whoever needs to be seen to doing something, and is getting rather desperate.

    Hell, if they cut of my slashdots I'd riot harder.

    Ultimately a savvy dictatorship would use internet, the internet after all doesn't care what it's used for it just pipes your data. Certainly governments and influential organisations, political movements etc use misinformation on the internet and it's useful idiot syndrome to great affect (see Fox news lol).

    Secretly we all know that facebook, twitter and anything blackberry is actually kind of crap. It's just that everyone else is on them, and they seem to work well enough. There's still no substitution for old school word of mouth for your little uprising, which by some measures is more effective. They can't switch that off.
  • Awesome concept (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RobinEggs (1453925) on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:46PM (#37357508)
    Very nice concept. We always hear that turning off the internet was effective suppression that protestors nevertheless overcame; this is a brilliant question to ask about another possible result.

    Even pondering this kind of gently contrarion (as opposed to deliberately provocative or 'egdy') research demonstrates more curiousity and academic honesty than a lot of tenured people show in their entire lives.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @05:56PM (#37357612)

    This is the plot of the movie Paycheck where *spoiler* they discover a way to see the future, but it turns out acting on this future information is what actually causes it.

    That is the unfortunate thing that will happen should too much weight be given to studies like this. Imagine more proactive military conflicts based on "negative sentiment." Sure Afghanistan and Iraq are probably better off without their numbskull leaders, but so would North Korea, but nobody seems to want to touch that. I'm fairly certain that the North Koreans are only happy because they are being told they are happy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:01PM (#37357652)

    It seems like turning off the Internet would be like taking away a pacifier. No FaceSpace posting, you're pissed, your neighbors are out in the street. You join them.

    I saw something about how they actually arranged a sporting event to be live (when it was originally not intended to be live) to get people off the streets in San Francisco one time.

    It's the same idea. The authorities saw the Inernet as an organizing tool; and it is. It's also a pacifier. It seems like those governments were doomed no matter what.

  • I live in Tunisia... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Nrrqshrr (1879148) on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:11PM (#37357748)
    And back then, when Ben Ali was still here and the riots started taking more and more regions, the gov't had the great idea of forbidding people from going to places where they might have the silly idea of "forming" a riot. Thus, football games were stopped, university courses cancelled...
    Predictably, those who used to watch football every Sunday suddenly had nothing to do, and those who were preparing for exams found themselves in holidays... Why not join the riots?
  • by gstrickler (920733) on Friday September 09, 2011 @06:29PM (#37357896)

    So far it's pretty good at predicting things that have already happened

    Just how does that qualify as "prediction"?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @07:36PM (#37358354)

      The same way that modeling weather systems qualify. You build a model and tweak it till it gives the correct result, then claim it's good for prediction. If what is being predicted based on new data is similar enough to what happened before, your model might actually give a good prediction. Hard to know until it's been used a lot of times whether it's actually useful for prediction.

      • by gstrickler (920733) on Friday September 09, 2011 @08:12PM (#37358638)

        Of course it's good at "predicting" previous events, that's what it was designed to to (and/or was trained by analyzing previous events). If it wasn't good at it, it would be a terrible model. That's not prediction, that's analysis and training. I predict the NYSE will crash on a Monday in Oct 1929, and again on a Monday in Oct 1987. I predict Germany will be on the losing side in both world wars. I predict MS Windows will take 90% of the desktop market despite the Apple Macintosh having nearly a 2 year lead in the market for GUIs and a commanding lead selling Apple IIs in the education market. Wow, I'm better than Nostradamus.

        You want to impress me, design and train a system using only knowledge of events prior to 1990, then show me how effective it is at predicting events from 1990 to now using only information available prior to the event it's predicting (you can change 1990 to 2000 or 2005 if that helps). How long before an event does it predict that something is likely? What's the time window of the prediction? How specific are the predictions? What's the accuracy rate?

        Weather forecasting is pretty specific, Mostly sunny with a 30% chance of rain in xx area, high temperature of 89F, low of 62F. They're only useful out to about 10 days, but they're pretty accurate and specific. Storm forecasts are (amount of rain, snow, wind speed, hail/size, etc) aren't quite as accurate or specific as the temperature and cloud predictions, and their still pretty reliable, but on a shorter time scale. We've got good (but definitely not perfect) models for near term weather forecasting.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @07:53PM (#37358474)

      If you had run the program before the event, it would have predicted something was about to happen.. You can test this by only giving it the data up to when the event started. This gives us the conclusion that since it would have predicted the riots, that it may be able to do so in the future.

      But you knew that. I'm guessing you understood completely, and just wanted to be a pedantic ass.

      • by gstrickler (920733) on Friday September 09, 2011 @08:36PM (#37358834)

        That's only valid if the designers only used events and data available prior to that event in their design and training of the model. Using knowledge of later events in the design of the model means it's already being "informed by" the future, so even if you retroactively give it only data prior to a past event, the model itself is influenced by future events. Since it's not really possible to keep well known events that occur prior to the design of the model from influencing it's design, and it might not be possible to keep events that occur after design but during implementation from influencing the implementation, you can't use it's accuracy at predicting any events prior to it's completion to test it's ability to predict.

        So, you're correct that I understood, and you're completely incorrect about drawing any conclusions from it's ability to "predict" past events based upon feeding it only info prior to the data of the event. Such systems can only be tested after they're completed, and they need to then demonstrate that they're good at predicting events that occur well after their completion. Until they do that, it's very difficult to eliminate design and implementation bias in any results produced while it was being developed, so those results must be considered biased and therefore, are not a reliable indicator of it's ability to predict the future events from current events.

  • by FrangoAssado (561740) on Friday September 09, 2011 @07:30PM (#37358314)

    The research about predicting revolutions is awful. I don't understand how some people in social sciences still get to publish these results without even remotely trying to avoid confirmation bias.

    If you read the research [uic.edu] linked from the BBC story, you can see that they do indeed have some impressive-looking graphics that show how the media reporting changed prior to some revolutions. That's interesting, but it's completely and utterly useless without also taking random samples from other places and times and checking if the same changes don't happen when there's no revolution. If they do, the whole "finding" is almost useless: it's only slightly better than always predicting revolutions whenever you want to make a prediction.

  • by belg4mit (152620) on Friday September 09, 2011 @07:34PM (#37358338) Homepage

    Not as good as "The sheep look up," but apropos.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @07:35PM (#37358340)

    See, the internet is a poor man's schwag. Better keep the youth on it, or they might get interested about their communities and how they are run. That can only end in bloodshed.

  • by madhi19 (1972884) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @12:03AM (#37360022)
    Think about all the time you spend online on twitter, Facebook, Youtube,...Realise that if you did not spend all that time online you would spend it doing something else like getting back at the bastard who just cut off your endless supply of porn, lollcat and meme. Lolll
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 10, 2011 @12:59AM (#37360248)
    with all the anonymous input nowadays Gonna be in for a good laugh when the computer will predict a come back of the Roman Legionnaires.

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