Visualization looks at Twitter use by Egyptians and influential others around the #jan25 uprising. Those writing in Arabic only are represented in red, only in English are in blue and overlap by various shades of purple. Influence, in terms of follows, are represented by lines and those who influence each other are located in proximity.
I find it interesting to look at but don’t think it says much about sentiment or what is actually being talked about. Also, the guy who did it doesn’t say what words he was tracking so it’s not that insightful. Perhaps the most interesting thing for me is that I had no idea that twitter was popular in the Arab world. What is also interesting is that there isn’t one person with a disproportionate level of influence, which would support the theory that it’s a mass movement led from the grassroots rather than led by a group of powerful individual – that’s a tenuous link though as I don’t think Twitter reflects the real world.
I still find the concept of revolutions brought about by social media difficult to swallow. Indeed, if you are poor how can you afford a computer and get online? I think it’s naive to suggest that online buzz reflects national sentiment. Take the so called Iranian Green Revolution – the protestors were given a huge amount of attention because they were tweeting away but, from what I understand, they were a minority and actually a lot of people were against the protests but just don’t have twitter and/or smartphones….anyway, won’t go on. Put simply, social media can be a useful organising tool but we can’t forget that it’s not accessible to a lot of the world.