Over the past few months, the Internet and Democracy team has been hard at work producing a new set of case studies that take a closer look at the complex role of technology in the creation, progress, and outcomes of domestic crises. This follows up from our previous case study work earlier this spring into the makeup of the Iranian blogosphere, and from last December into the role of networked technologies in Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution.
Chowdhury’s research challenges long-held assumptions about the capacity for widely adopted information technologies to subvert authoritarian regimes and promote useful societal discourse. In practice, the relationship of technology to politics appears to be far more intricate than these broad notions would suggest, and indicate many possibilities for further research. As he writes in the abstract:
The 2007 Saffron Revolution in Burma was in many ways an unprecedented event in the intersection between politics and technology. There is, of course, the obvious: the event marks a rare instance in which a government leveraged control of nationalized ISPs to entirely black out Internet access in an attempt to prevent images and information about the protests from reaching the outside world. At another level, it is an example of an Internet driven protest which did not lead to tangible political change.
Looking forward to seeing what you guys think about it!