Blogs and Bullets

The US Institute of Peace has just published (PDF) a report written by four GWU political scientists (John, me, Sean Aday and Marc Lynch ), Ethan Zuckerman and John Kelly on debates over the role of the Internet in contentious politics. It uses debates around the 2009 events in Iran (which we and others (which we and other observers found incredibly frustrating) to highlight (1) the near-complete absence of real data on the consequences of the Internet for political contention, (2) the remarkable self-assuredness of pundits pronouncing on these consequences despite, and perhaps because, of (1), and (3) the urgent need to gather actual, useable data, and to apply this data to questions that can be answered rather than nonsensical debates about whether the Internet is fundamentally pro- or anti-democracy &c &c.

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