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This presentation elucidates how System Network Analysis can be used to improve traditional forms of media production during crises. In particular, it establishes how social media was instrumental in organizing the wave of Arab Revolution that recently hit Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. According to literature, System Network Analysis basically aims at interconnecting computers together with their resources in order to enhance the level of communication in a group of people (Boler 2008 p. 58).
According to literature, social network analysis is basically concerned with how social networks enable a stronger sense of interdependency between groups of people. This form of social network consists of individual actors within a specific network and how they effectively relate with other actors within the same network. In most cases, this leads to a complex social structure with several nodes and ties in between. The limits of operation of these networks vary from the family level to national level and beyond. As such, they have historically formed the premise on which revolutions and fundamental changes are brought in the society. Essentially, social networks work to reinstate specific ties that ensure that individuals remain united and focused on the ultimate goal of their association. In the recent past, social networks have taken a completely new twist, with social network sites like Twitter and Facebook being the most convenient avenue of organizing effective national revolutions (Faris 2008 p. 12).
It is widely acknowledged that the shift from broadcasted mass media to the social media greatly contributed to the success of the Arab revolutions. For instance, the youth, who were the major users of the social media, were actively engaged in the operations of the revolutionists through Twitter and Facebook. This did not only ensure a large audience across the country, but also enhanced the amount of influence that the revolution had on the people by conveying all the relevant information in a timely manner. Indeed, it has become a commonplace for the mainstream media to distribute updates through the social media in order to have people engaged and committed to the unplanned crises. For instance, most users of Twitter would index updates concerning the Tunisian Revolution with “#sidibouzid”, thereby evoking strong emotions that were attached to the self-emollition of the young man, Bouazizi. This trend was replicated in the Egyptian Revolution where tweeters adopted #Jan25 as the hashtag for identifying updates related to the revolution. According to Faris, the protestors were organized mainly by media activists who used the social media, blogs, and sharing of video clips with a view encouraging people to remain committed to the protest. However, these protests alone could not have ousted the incumbent regimes as the level of organization was limited to protests while forces loyal to the government used military techniques to thwart their efforts. In fact, it was only until there was a split in the army that significant progress was made. A section of army officers joined the protestors in their attempts to ouster the President by providing military assistance and protecting them from the brutality of the President’s soldiers. Predictably, things would be different today had the army not split. That is why it is quite prudent to incorporate NodelXL techniques into the social media so that demonstrators can get trained online on how to respond to government attacks (Boler 2008 p. 51).
In conclusion, the social media remain a critical tool in organizing and encouraging people to participate in important events. This is often achieved through dissemination of relevant blogs and video clips that are meant to evoke deep emotions among demonstrators during revolutions. However, this still leaves demonstrators vulnerable to attacks by forces loyal to the incumbent system. As such, organizers of such revolutions must seek to improve the traditional media to enable them impart certain techniques to their supporters even during the crises when organized trainings are impossible (Faris 2008 p. 41).