Quote:Upheaval in developing countries might not be as widespread without mobile phones, according to a Finnish researcher. Mobiles have accelerated the unrest and strengthened the opposition in countries undergoing unrest. This has been evident recently in North Africa.YLE
Anthropologists from around the world are waiting to explore the use of mobile phones in the Arab unrest. One of the pioneers in the field is Finnish researcher Sirpa Tenhunen. She has studied mobile phones as a political tool in Africa and India. In opposition hands, mobile phones are a powerful tool.
â€You could say that from the regimeâ€™s point of view, mobile phones are more dangerous than Kalashnikovs,â€ says Tenhunen, who is currently an acting professor of social and cultural anthropology at Helsinki University.
Mobiles gather troops quickly
In developing countries, mobile phones are more common than televisions, newspapers or computers. An average of one in three Africans has a mobile phone, whereas only six percent have access to the internet. Slow internet connections increase the cost of time spent online.
According to Tenhunenâ€™s research, mobile phone use speeds up political action. Whereas before it took a month to organise a general strike, now a large group can be roused in ten minutes with a text message.
Part of the power of cell phones is in the invisibility they grant to actors. Potential revolutionaries can mobilise in secret more easily. In the Arab countries experiencing upheaval there has been surprise at the protests, and it is still difficult to identify leaders.
â€Regimes canâ€™t put anyone under house arrest or in prison, because they canâ€™t pick up opposition leaders so easily,â€ says Tenhunen.
Oppressive regimes often also turn off phone and internet connections in an attempt to maintain control. The most active in this regard have been Iran and China. Tenhunen points out that when people use the word â€™Tibetâ€™ on the phone in China, the security services often begin surveillance.
Tenhunen would not like to predict which direction the current upheaval will take: strionger democracy and civil society, or a re-assertion of control by the challenged regimes. the outcome will, according to Tenhunen, depend on who best utilises the new technology and netowrks.
I notice how they but cell phones in with mainstream news outlets and the likes...lol
"mobile phones are more common than televisions, newspapers or computers"