Last Thursday I woke to the news that Egyptian security forces had detained and beaten the journalist Mona Eltahawy. She was released hours later, with a broken left arm and broken right wrist. In the interim, a vocal campaign had arisen on Twitter, #FreeMona.
Later, I watched Zeynap Tufekci engaged in debate about activism, social movements, and the Internet with Evgeny Morozov, who repeated his standard line that claims of activism's effect via the Web are usually shallow and misguided.
Invoking both analysis and specific cases --- Morozov's general claims often cover up a lack of knowledge or even interest in the reality of events --- Tufekci effectively, if politely, took Morozov apart while putting out a thoughtful examination of what Web-based activism might achieve.
Among the cases that Tufekci considered was the fresh episode of Mona Eltahawy, and by Friday, she was posting a reflection and examination on her blog Technosociology.
One more thought --- after Eltahawy's release but before I read Tufekci's article, I posted the story from Bahrain, "How Activist Zainab Alkhawaja Defied the Police...And Escaped Arrest". In her Twitter narrative, Alkhawaja paid tribute to the power of social media, "I have to thank loads of people, many of them on Twitter. It seems the news got out fast & thats why the orders of arrest were changed".
But she also added this important caveat, "I also feel sad, that my brothers & sisters, the other protesters, who I would die for, are not protected the way I am".