Kyrgyz (non-colored) Revolution – In Progress and Being Twittered

by Joshua Tucker on April 7, 2010 · 1 comment

in Uncategorized

So no sooner had I finished reading Erik’s post about the use of Twitter among the Egyptian opposition did I see breaking news about a potential government takeover (takedown? overthrow?) in Kyrgyzstan (see here and here). As the events were in progress, my next instinct was to go to Twitter to see if I could get more information in real time. Sure enough #Kyrgyzstan is up and running, with what looks to be 3-5 posts coming in per minute. (There is also #freekg, which seems to have more Russian posts, and thus may be a better source for on the ground information). Some quick observations from Twitter:

There is a great collection of photos up from the protests today here
Roza Otunbayeva, a key opposition leader who, according to CNN has declared herself the interim leader of Kyrgyzstan, has apparently been Twittering throughout the day’s events; her twitter posts can be found here (in Russian). In view of the discussions we will inevitably have about the effect of these posts, it is worth noting that, at least for now, she has only 262 followers (including me).
Members of the Iranian opposition are apparently joining in on the Twitter conversation about Iraq, with gheseh2000 person writing “More more Iranians r going to tell opposition leaders:Did u see #Kyrgyzstan?” and “Brave Persian lions + lionesses take heart from this Kygystan today!” Another user writes “We must learn #Kyrgyzstan. It took em 1day 2drive away the gov. They occupied gov buildings,Weapons & Fought back #IranElection”.
It can be difficult to tell what is essentially new news vs. just repeated cross-posting of news from other sources from looking at a given Twitter page without following all the links.

It seems fascinating to me that one medium – Twitter – is simultaneously becoming a place for people to follow the news and attempt to make the news at the same time. For those of us who study protest, it seems inevitable that we are going to have to begin to account for the Twitter phenomenon in our understanding of how both domestic and international responses to the protest evolve. Does anyone know, for example, if Twitter stores and shares search information, and especially search information by location of the search?

As to my labeling of this as a “non-colored” revolution, I think it is worth noting that the events in Kyrgyzstan today were not triggered by fraudulent elections. If the government does fall, then this – I think – we will be the first replacement of a government in the former Soviet Union triggered by protests that did not follow fraudulent elections since the colored revolutions began a decade ago. In other words, this may be the first “post-colored revolution” revolution.

{ 1 comment }

Collin April 8, 2010 at 10:41 am

I don’t believe that Twitter’s native search indexes trends. There are third party Twitter search engines that may (the official search engine was actually one that was bought by the company, I believe), as well as intermediaries similar to Alexia that collect general browsing data, including Twitter use.

The problem, however, is that depending on context, none of these are methodologically useful. The latter two probably aren’t a representative sample. The former is subject to censorship. As in the case of #iranelection, since Twitter was blocked, Iranians were using Friendfeed and Brizzly to interact. Also, I’ve seen in the US at least, third parties set up solely to track an event by twitter’s api. (http://g20buzz.com/)

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