Evaluating a Complex Landscape

by ZEYNEP TUFEKCI for COLUMBIA JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS (Vol 68, No 1 Fall/Winter 2014) on DECEMBER 12, 2014: 

Zeynep Tufekci
Zeynep Tufekci

SUMMARY: Recently, social movements have shaken countries around the world. Most of these movements have thoroughly integrated digital connectivity into their toolkits, especially for organizing, gaining publicity, and effectively communicating. Governments, too, have been adapting to this new reality where controlling the flow of information provides new challenges. This article examines the multiple, often novel, ways in which social media both empowers new digitally-fueled movements and contributes to their apparent weaknesses in seemingly paradoxically ways. This article also integrates the evolving governmental response into its analysis. Social media’s empowering aspects are real and profound, but these impacts do not play out in a simple, linear fashion. The ability to scale-up quickly using digital infrastructure has empowered movements to embrace their horizontalist and leaderless aspirations, which in turn have engendered new weak- nesses after the initial phase of street actions ebbs. Movements without organizational depth are often unable to weather such transitions. While digital media create more possibilities to evade censorship, many governments have responded by demonizing and attacking social media, thus contributing to polarized environments in which dissidents have access to a very different set of information compared to those more loyal to the regime. This makes it hard to create truly national campaigns of dissent. This article provides an overview of this complex, evolving environment with examples ranging from the Tahrir Square protests in Egypt to the Occupy movement.

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In this two-part interview (below),  African American studies professor at Duke University Mark Anthony Neal offers his insights on public scholarship, academic blogging, and leveraging social media.

by KEVIN ANSELMO for EXPERIENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS on AUGUST 20 and AUGUST 26, 2014: 

Why Professors Should Disseminate their Knowledge and Share Opinions to Public Audiences EXCERPT: Professors have a megaphone to the world. There are incredible opportunities for academics to communicate their knowledge with the general public through traditional and social media. While many don’t for various reasons, there are a number of professors who are doing this incredibly well. One such individual is Mark Anthony Neal, an African American studies professor at Duke University and author of the book New Black Man. The term “incredibly well” is quite a superlative, yet this is probably an understatement. As I noted in a previous post, Mark Anthony Neal’s blog featured 1063 posts in 2012. That’s not a typo! He averaged almost three different posts per day. In 2013, this number shrank to a “disappointing low of” 821 – that’s still more than two posts per day over the course of a year!

I had the opportunity to sit down with Mark and will be doing a series of blog posts with him on various aspects of his “media empire” and the best practice he can share with other professors. Here is part 1 focused on his strategy, goals and why he does this. FULL INTERVIEW

Leveraging Social Media as an Academic EXCERPT: Imagine writing or editing over 1,000 blog posts in a year. Or what about engaging with over 28,000 followers on Twitter. For Duke Professor Mark Anthony Neal, this is not a dream but a reality.

In a previous post, Mark outlined why he considered external communications important as a professor. So if you are not sure why you should blog, revert back to that post first! In this follow-up Q and A, he shares some of the lessons learned from his years of blogging and using social media.

How did you first get involved with blogging?
I started my blog in 2006 in part to promote my new book: New Black Man. I quickly realized that I could connect my content to my book and generate more visibility and also use the blog to promote radio and television interviews.

What does it take to be a successful blogger?
I never thought of myself as blogging. In fact, I work hard not to describe myself as a blogger. When I write on my site, I am writing. It might be shorter and pitched to a different audience, but it follows the same kind of sensibilities if I was doing a piece for The Atlantic Monthly or some other outlet. FULL INTERVIEW

Via SOCIOLOGY OF ISLAM LISTSERV on February 26, 2014:
1st International Conference on Men and Masculinities : “Identities, Cultures, Societies”
11–13 September 2014, Izmir Turkey
Initiative for Critical Studies of Masculinities (ICSM) cordially invites proposals for the first international conference on men and masculinities to take place in Turkey, in collaboration with Ankara University Women’s Studies Centre (KASAUM) and Izmir University Women’s Studies Centre. The conference aims to discuss theories, narratives, experiences, discourses, and activisms related to transformations of and challenges to men and masculinities with a particular focus on the Global Southern and Eastern European contexts. Continue reading

by MBAYE LO and ANDI FRKOVICH for JOURNAL OF RELIGION AND POPULAR CULTURE (25:3 FALL 2013 ISSUE): 

Abstract: The Arab Spring has been widely branded as a social media revolution. Evidence has shown that many Arab citizens consider Al Jazeera one of the most popular and credible Arab news networks, making it important to explore the manner and the extent to which this media network may have impacted the Revolution. One way to do so is by examining the meaning, configuration, and providers of the Al Jazeera network’s news content.

This exploration seems to raise important questions: what are the contents of Al Jazeera’s Arabic politico-religious articles? Are political writers revolutionaries in their views? Do they identify with the Arab mainstream or a political/ideological group, or do they court the interests of Arab states? To what extent are writers affected by their country of origin, their ideological affiliations, or the country in which Al Jazeera is based—Qatar?

This article attempts to answer these questions by analyzing the fluidity and the complexities of a sample of articles collected from Al Jazeera’s Arabic political columns between 30 January and 31 August 2011. In doing so, this article contributes to a timely discussion of social media, religion, and authority in the Arab world by presenting a case study of the political content of one of the Arab world’s leading media outlets. Continue reading

compiled by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, TIRN on NOVEMBER 15, 2013: 

The fall issue ( 22:2) of the Digest of the Middle East Studies (DOMES) has just been released by Wiley Publishing Co. Continue reading