Since this course is all about rhetoric and the web, the topic of the public revolts in Tunisia and Egypt must take center stage.
In Tunisia, it has been well documented (examples here and here) that social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other video upload sites, as well as numerous blog sites, were crucial in creating an instantaneous mode of information dissemination in a country where the press was restricted. The rhetoric used in these modes of communication came from both grassroots organizations and individuals, as well as outside international groups. Most importantly, however, was the solidarity that both social media and online access to current information gave to the people of Tunisia.
The people’s uprising in Egypt appears to have taken a page out of the Tunisian book, but the Egyptian government has also learned a lesson about the power of online rhetoric. According to a blog posting on TechCrunch, Egypt has blocked Twitter in an attempt to crack down on the social media tool’s power to quickly disseminate information and organize protests.
The rhetorical theories we will be studying and practicing this semester are not just academic, as these real-world events demonstrate. We’ll keep a close eye on how this international drama unfolds, paying special attention to the role that the Web 2.0 plays.