Friday, 10 June 2011

Blogging - transforming the public sphere

A while ago I posted a bit of an "academic text" ;-) titled "On Blogging or A New Era in the Transformation of the Public Sphere". My key thesis was (and still is) that blogging, web 2.0 technologies, social media in general will drive societies in to a new era of Enlightenment by facilitating a broad, public discourse. Therefore, they will have a key role in how public opinion is shaped. To quote from my old post:
"Blogging and social networking will change the way our societies work and how social systems are transforming. Blogging and social networking are on the forefront of eParticipation and eDemocracy. And these new forms of communication and networking break the traditional constellations of the public, the political sphere, the media, etc."
Yesterday I was travelling by train once again and got hold of the wonderful, highly enlightening and inspiring essay from Lina Ben Mhenni - one of the leading activists in Tunisia pushing the "Tunisian revolution" of this year. In the German translation her essay is called "Vernetzt Euch!" (Get Connected). BTW, the title and the booklet in German are styled similar to the publication of Stéphane Hessel's essay "Indignez-vous!" ("Empört Euch!") which still - and rightly - occupies a large part of the political discourse in Europe. In the French original, Lina Ben Mhenni's essay is titled "Tunisian girl, blogguese pour un printemps arabe".

 Lina Ben Mhenni's essay confirms the key role of blogging and social media in the transformation of the public sphere. It shows the strong influence bloggosphere had on creating a critical public opinion and mobilising people to finally overthrow the authoritarian Tunisian leadership in a peaceful revolution.

Her point is pretty straight forward: Blogging and social media is about freedom of speech and allowing people to participate in public discourse and make up their own mind. The cover text quotes her saying, "I want that the world changes. But it will only change if the truth will be spread, if we get connected." (My own translation).

I can only highly recommend reading this essay. Apart from giving great insights into the courageous activities of Lina Ben Mhenni and other Tunisian bloggers it points at how the future political discourse will look like and will be organised. Highly enlightening and thought provoking.

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