Civic Media Session: "Civic Disobedience"

Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm

MIT Media Lab, Building E14, Room 633

2011 has seen a wave of popular protests threaten authoritarian regimes around the world. Protests in Tunisia removed a much-loathed dictatorship, and the occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo promises to reshape the government of Egypt. Even in countries where protests are unlikely to unseat entrenched leaders, the prospect of unrest has led leaders to make major political concessions.

Is this wave of civic disobedience best explained as a reaction to economic and political conditions in each country? The viral spread of Tunisian unrest infecting other vulnerable nations? Or are changes in the media and communications environment — near-universal mobile phone use, social media, the internet, satellite television — enabling popular protest in a way we've not seen before? Is civic disobedience easier, or perhaps more effective, in a connected age?

To explore this question, we've invited a team of experts to closely examine the public protests we've witnessed this year and consider questions about media and civic disobedience. Our discussion includes:

Ethan Zuckerman (Moderator)
Co-founder of Global Voices Online; Senior Researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and Visiting Scientist at the Center for Future Civic Media

Clay Shirky
Writer, consultant, and Associate Professor at NYU in the Interactive Telecommunications Program

Zeynep Tufekci
Writer, journalist, and Assistant Professor at University of Maryland Baltimore County exploring how technology and society co-evolve

Sami ben Gharbia
Tunisian human rights activist and director of Global Voices Advocacy