Friday, 14 January 2011

Tunisia - The Social Revolution Live

Just a quick note.

I just spent the better part of the afternoon engrossed with Twitter watching the fall of the Tunisian government, the last minute escape by the resigned President and his country-hopping attempt to find someplace that would let him in.

Initial reports had him fleeing on a plane to France who in their ever so snotty way replied "Non!". Probably due to fears of unrest in their already agitated Tunisian immigrant communities. Next up were rumours that he was headed to Dubai. Now Dubai was an odd choice considering the fact that the now ex-President apparently was not on the best of terms with the government there but then again, his wife was supposedly in the region already thereby lending some credence to this rumour.

A few people on Twitter tried in vain to follow the his aircraft based on a leaked tail number / callsign but the info provided was incorrect in the end so it was speculation time again. Saudi, UAE, Dubai who knows. Finally reports came in that his plane had landed in Sardinia but no reports of whether he was on it.

Meanwhile, back in Tunis, the President disolved government before skipping town and the Prime Minister who's not next in line of succession claimed power. So more questions arose. Was this a military coup (unlikely), a palace coup (more likely) or just a 74 year old dictator gettin' while the gettin's good ?

Either way, a few things are for certain. In Tunis and across Tunisia there are reports of gunfire and looting. The looting isn't a good thing and the gunfire, let's just hope that it's celebratory and not the military and regime remnants taking potshots at the civilians in revenge.

This whole experience has left me mentally "winded" and thrilled. As I mentioned in a Twitter post, I was "watching news happen" thanks to the live Twitter reporting of people like Alan Fisher and Oliver Varney from Al Jazeera. Surprised that I didn't read more from the likes of CNN / BBC et. al. but then again, Tunisia isn't a ratings magnet.

This was my first experience with watching the power, the immediacy and the inclusiveness of social media at work. People from the world over were chiming in with comments, the two news men and their teams (the must've had great people working with them) keeping us up to date with the facts on the ground and info from various sources. People sending encouragement and others watching/reading along as events unfolded.

This may be a bit of a leap but considering how quickly info was streaming amongst the tweets, from on-site witnesses to us observers, I can easily understand it when people refer to this event as the first "Social Media Revolution". Is it precedent setting ? I don't know, I'm not a sage but I can say that this has emboldened quite a few people and both governments and media outlets better start paying attention.

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