Khaled Desouki /AFP/Getty Images
“The protests that led to the Egyptian revolution last year were organized in part by an anonymous Facebook page administrator. When the police found out who he was, they arrested and interrogated him. After his release, Wael Ghonim became the public face of the Egyptian revolution.” (NPR.org)
Terri Gross just conducted a wonderful interview with Wael Ghonim, a Google employee working in Egypt, who is credited with instigating the “Facebook” and “Twitter” (or “Social Media”) Revolutions in North Africa this spring. Their conversation highlights what you will need to focus on in your research paper: what is new-media-specific about your topic? Here, Ghonim discusses the ways in which the specific technical features of the social media sites he used (Twitter‘s hashtag [#], for example) helped him organize political protest in ways that could not have happened via more traditional, “analog” means.
Note, too, his judicious use of either Facebook or Twitter during the revolution: he strategized his use of those sites. Some New Media sites are better at doing some things than others, thanks to the specific features (or limitations) that are particular to each.
Your discussions of New Media texts (or websites) in your own research papers, then, must address how the user interfaces (technical features) particular to that site, like “like” buttons, “share” buttons, hashtags, comment fields, ability to prevent or encourage the sharing of digital texts (wikileaks), etc., contribute to your thesis claim about that New Media text.
You can access the Wael Ghonim interview at the following link, and if you cannot access the audio version, the website also offers a written transcript of the conversation: