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Egypt, Tunisia: Generation TXT Comes of Age?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, February 1 2011

While I completely agree with Matthew Ingram, whose post "It's Not Twitter or Facebook, It's the Power of the Network" should be must-reading as an antidote to all the overheated media commentary about which tech tool is most responsible for the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, I have one wrinkle to add. The biggest factor in the unfolding events, to me, appears to be the emergent power of young people, compounded by how urbanized they are and how connected they are by mobile phones.

If you look at the available data on degree of internet penetration, number of mobile cellular subscriptions per 100 people, percentage of population under the age of 15 and degree of urbanization, what jumps out is how the last three factors seem to matter more.


[Sources: MobileActive.org, InternetWorldStats.com, GlobalHealthFacts.org]

With the exception of Yemen, mobile coverage in the other five countries I've focused on--Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Jordan and Iran--hovers between 98% and 100%.

Finally, the pace of mobile phone penetration has exploded, far faster than internet penetration. With the exception of Jordan, which boasted a 23% mobile phone subscription rate in 2002, in the other five countries mobile ownership was in the single digits--just six percent in Egypt and Tunisia back then. That has skyrocketed in 2007 to 76% in Tunisia and 40% in Egypt, according to MobileActive.org.

Could it be that what we're witnessing is the political coming of age of Generation TXT?

News Briefs

RSS Feed friday >

First POST: Moneyballed

The Gates Foundation's new "global citizens" email database, and why it's a terrible idea; why young people like the NSA more than older people; using open data about NYC taxi drivers to ID Muslims; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Monkeying

Net neutrality proponents call foul on the GOP's plans; StandUnited.com seeks to be the right's Change.org; tons of civic tech news from mySociety, Chicago and Civic Hall in NYC; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Punch List

Obama's State of the Union and the Internet; how HealthCare.gov shares personal data with third-parties; Facebook says it will give users tools to tag false or hoax content in their News Feeds; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Goggles

More on the shifting net neutrality debate; how Ready for Hillary plans to share its digital assets; the family roots of Civic Hall; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Urgency

How Republicans are starting to embrace net neutrality; more predictions of the blockchain's impact on society; new "innovative communities" legislation in Massachusetts seeks to boost civic tech there; and much, much more. GO

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