The Arab Spring| The Egyptian Experience: Sense and Nonsense of the Internet Revolution
This article is a contribution to the debate about the role of the Internet in mobilizations for political and social change, drawing on interviews and observations during the Egyptian revolution. We propose distinguishing between the use of the Internet as a tool by those seeking to bring about change from below, and the Internet’s role as a space where collective dissent can be articulated. We argue that it is important to go beyond three sets of polemics. First, we argue for transcending the debate between utopian and dystopian perspectives on the role of the Internet in political change. Second, we propose a shift away from perspectives that isolate the Internet from other media by examining the powerful synergy between social media and satellite broadcasters during the January 25 uprising. And finally, we call for an understanding of the dialectical relationship between online and offline political action.