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Technology & Innovation

The New Era of Global Protest Movements

Technology has fomented a new global protest movement, spanning from the Middle East to the West. But the ease of online activism also threatens any lasting power groups can gain.

What’s the Latest Development?

As we saw social media expedite popular revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, they began fomenting dissent in the West as well. From Spain and Greece, organized protest spread to the US and the UK, uniting disparate groups across cultures with similar grievances against the global distribution of power and wealth. “Social-media technology was one tool that advanced [the protests]; but so was a reconceptualization of the meaning of public space, and the view that a plurality of ideas is superior to dogma – that the act of collaboration is as important as the outcome.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Just as quickly as social media brought people together, the ease and convenience of participation in online activism may counter any lasting effects, particularly in the face of stalwart institutions. “Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya have had their regime change, but it is unclear what role, if any, the young idealistic revolutionaries will play in their countries’ future. … In the US, the protests of 2011 will have a lasting effect only if Occupiers remain organized and continue their work on fighting foreclosures.” Nonetheless, globalized protest seems to be catching up with the globalized economy, and if the last year is any indication, the spirit of community is here to stay. 

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