Arab Spring

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Un Internet furtif américain pour le printemps arabe. Google Earth, an iPhone compass and experience playing 'Call of Duty' have been vital to Libya's rebel war plan. A screenshot from the game Call of Duty.

Google Earth, an iPhone compass and experience playing 'Call of Duty' have been vital to Libya's rebel war plan

Inset: the iPhone compass app, and a Google Earth image of Misrata, Libya. Source: Supplied IT is probably not what the designers of Google Earth had in mind, but for the rebels in the besieged Libyan city of Misrata their software has become a crucial part of the revolutionary armoury: a free battlefield system that helps them to aim mortars and pinpoint Gaddafi tanks. Other uprisings in the Arab Spring have leant heavily on the organising powers of Facebook and Twitter, but in Libya it is Google Earth that has become an invaluable asset. Videogames for the rebellious masses. I was gratified to read that Libyan rebels in Misrata have been using the video game Call of Duty as a primary resource for tactical knowledge.

Videogames for the rebellious masses

Computer games are actually an extremely useful way for civilians with no military training (such as myself) to pick up a little bit of familiarity with military practices and problems that can be extremely useful in trying to function in a combat zone. Even the most serious of videogames is no substitute for actual military training, so one shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that you know too much -- ie, concluding that if the tank down the street can't see you in the game, it can't see you in real life.


Egypt. Bahraïn. Arab spring: an interactive timeline of Middle East protests. The Arab Spring: A Status Report on Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain. The Arab Spring - the Jasmine Revolution - the hashtag revolts - the uprisings in the Arab World: whatever you call them, they're ongoing and as long as they go on, their proponents and opponents use, and misuse, technology.

The Arab Spring: A Status Report on Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain

Technology played a great role in communications between protesters in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and between those protesters and the global public; it was also the fulcrum for the efforts of the regimes to stay in power, such as shutting down their connections to the Internet. It retains both of those functions.

I asked people I know in the countries of the Arab Spring to tell us how they think things currently stand and what role technology continues to play there. This post is the first of three. Today we take a look at Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain. 7% Of Arab Bloggers Have Been Arrested: Harvard Survey. Seven percent of Middle Eastern bloggers were arrested and detained in the past year--and nearly 30% were personally threatened, according to a new Harvard University survey of 98 bloggers throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

7% Of Arab Bloggers Have Been Arrested: Harvard Survey

The survey, which was released this week, was conducted by Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society in collaboration with world news aggregator Global Voices Online (GVO). Some financial support for the survey was offered through the State Department, via a subgrant from the United Kingdom-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting. The State Department has been vocal about their desire to conduct pro-democracy outreach through social media and emerging technologies.

While the blogs and bloggers who participated in the survey were not named, they were drawn from the pool of Middle Eastern bloggers whose posts were reprinted by Global Voices. Social media can help build Arab governments too. In the Arab world this winter, social media proved that it can facilitate rebellion and even topple regimes.

Social media can help build Arab governments too

Now it faces a much harder challenge. Can social media help to build new governments? The wiki revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt happened so fast that the positive forces of change have no vanguard, or organisations enabling them to take power. The organisations with the muscle to form political parties and win an election often seek to drive society backwards. Daily chart: Return of the shoe throwers. Are food prices approaching a violent tipping point? Seeking simple explanations for the Arab spring uprisings that have swept through Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya, is clearly foolish amidst entangled issues of social injustice, poverty, unemployment and water stress.

Are food prices approaching a violent tipping point?

But asking "why precisely now? " is less daft, and a provocative new study proposes an answer: soaring food prices. Furthermore, it suggests there is a specific food price level above which riots and unrest become far more likely. That figure is 210 on the UN FAO's price index: the index is currently at 234, due to the most recent spike in prices which started in the middle of 2010.

Lastly, the researchers argue that current underlying food price trends - excluding the spikes - mean the index will be permanently over the 210 threshold within a year or two. The Revolutions Were Tweeted: Visualizing Prominent Information Flows during the Tunisia and Egypt Revolutions. Cinema and the Arab spring: the revolution starts here. Still from The Green Wave, directed by Ali Samadi Ahadi.

Cinema and the Arab spring: the revolution starts here

Do the roots of the Arab spring lie in cinema? The question seems absurd: surely kleptocratic dictatorship, youth unemployment and grain prices all played a more important part. Le Maghreb se soulève contre les dictaeurs - The World's Unemployed Youth: Revolution in the Air? A common thread to the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and protests elsewhere in the Middle East and north Africa is the soul-crushing high rate of youth unemployment.

The World's Unemployed Youth: Revolution in the Air?

Twenty-four percent of young people in the region cannot find jobs. To be sure, protesters were also agitating for democracy, wanting the full rights of citizenship and not to be treated as subjects. But nonexistent employment opportunities were the powerful catalyst. Youth unemployment is similarly dire in other parts of the world. In the UK, young people aged 16 to 24 account for about 40% of all unemployed, which means almost 1 million young adults are jobless. Slavoj Zizek - #1 Arabian Revolution - OmU. U.S.-Financed Groups Had Supporting Role in Arab Uprisings. Mideast turmoil threatens sovereign-wealth funds. By Alistair Barr, MarketWatch SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa may disrupt diversification efforts by some of the world’s largest sovereign-wealth funds, according to research released Tuesday by Preqin, which tracks private equity, hedge funds and other alternative investments.

Mideast turmoil threatens sovereign-wealth funds

Unrest in the region may have ramifications for the future investment policies of the Libyan Investment Authority, Preqin said. La lourde facture du "printemps arabe"