Clive Crook becomes yet another writer attacking a position that, so far as I can see, is entirely a straw man:
I also admired Gideon Rachman's thoughts on the revolution--not least his aside that the role of social media, though important, is being overstated:
The commentary about the role of social media in Egypt has become so breathless that it is easy to forget that the French managed to storm the Bastille without the help of Twitter - and the Bolsheviks took the Winter Palace without pausing to post photos of each other on Facebook. The Americans managed a revolution too, I believe, without benefit of the internet.
Really? I had no idea that the Bolsheiviks couldn't text. I mean, seriously: who exactly is saying that the web alone accounts for the revolutions now unfolding in the Arab world? Name or cite someone. So I clicked to read Gideon's piece, which is largely spot-on, to see his evidence of "breathless" commentary. Here's what he's got:
Facebook, which Mr Ghonim himself credited with playing a central role in the uprising, also sought to align itself with the outcome, while trying not to take the spotlight off the protesters. “We’ve witnessed brave people of all ages coming together to effect a profound, nonviolent change in their country,” the company said. “Certainly, technology was a vital tool in their efforts, but we believe their bravery and determination mattered most.”
So even Facebook's own spokesman is rightly noticing that the role of the web was vital but nowhere near sufficient. And surely, the spread of the uprisings across the region - the images of police brutality, the precedent in Tunisia and Egypt, the infectious courage - would not have happened without al Jazeera, the web, Twitter, Facebook and cell phones. When the only news people got was from sate TV or state controlled presses, these would have been a very different few weeks. I just don't see how you can deny or minimize that.