Archive | February, 2011

Arab unrest visualizations

23 Feb

In one of its previous issues, the Economist has published its own index of unrest probability in the Arab states, the shoe thrower’s index. I haven’t studied the index extensively, but its authors state that factors include “the share of the population that is under 25, the number of years the government has been in power, corruption and lack of democracy as measured by existing indices, GDP per person, censorship and the absolute number of people younger than 25”.

The index, published in the beginning of February, actually managed to predict the current events in Libya. It did not however list a high probability of public unrest in Bahrain – yet public unrest is exactly what we’re witnessing in Bahrain. Therefore some factors still seem to be missing. Nonetheless, visualization is a neat idea, and the Economist encouraged its readers to leave comments to improve and fine-tune. The index is now updated daily. Interestingly, Bahrain is now second on the list, topped only by Mauretania and followed by Saudi Arabia…

The Guardian provides an interactive map of the Middle East and North Africa keeping track of developments and color-coding the number of leaders ousted. It also has a second graphic illustrating Twitter activity within the region.

Kovas Boguta comes up with a very interesting graphic illustrating the cross connections of Twitter users documenting the Egyptian revolt. His graphic shows two things: On the one hand, he determines the communicational influence of individual Twitter users through the amount of times their tweets have been cited, or retweeted. On the other hand, he provides a beautiful depiction of the English-Arabic language barrier. Or rather the lack thereof, since Twitter users seemingly manage to create a cloud of information that downright floats from Arabic (red) to English (blue) and vice versa.


… Case in Point: Ivory Coast

23 Feb

Coincidental with yesterday’s post about Egyptian influence on African Affairs, I heard that Ivory Coast seems to face dire straits as well. First, Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after losing the Presidential elections a couple of months ago, next public unrest set in and and the not-anymore-government tried to cling on to power and restore order.

Now food prices seem to have exploded, gas is running low, and the military is resorting to violence to control the growing number of people taking to the streets and voicing their discontent.

Arab Egypt, African Egypt

22 Feb

Nas, a Jordanian blogger,  puts into nice words the social impact Egypt has always had on the rest of the Middle Eastern countries. He mentions the “orientalist tendency (…) to lump everyone in this region in to one group” and the latent “failure to recognize the intricacies that weave in to the social fabric” of the Arab world. The orientalist view sees historic and politcal events in the region, social circumstances, but fails to look behind the curtain of said “social fabric”, thereby missing how Egypt has influenced other societies, collective sentiments and the relationship between generations: Nas describes aptly his own generation’s sentiment in this setting, the feeling of living “in the shadow of our father’s heroes” and to acquiesce, yield and accept the fact that inept leaders will be replaced by other inept leaders. But, as Nas says, “what happens in Egypt does not stay in Egypt,” and in his opinion the young generation’s Egypt revolt has spilled over to other countries’ young generations, as a wake up call and a reminder that they can indeed act and demand and pressure and not accept.

Meanwhile Azad Essa over at al-Jazeera points out that the analysis of the uprise is mainly focusing on Egypt as an Arab country, but not on Egypt as an African country: His article summarizes the spillover effects of the Egypt revolt on other African countries, such as Gabon, Sudan, Madagascar, Cameroon. He argues that one reason why we’re missing what’s going on in Africa post-Egypt-revolt is that these countries lack the media coverage: HE cites Drew Hinshaw saying thet there is no “powerhouse media for the region like Al-Jazeera”. While this cannot be the sole reason, I absolutely agree with Essa and Hinshaw that al-Jazeera’s constant coverage, its presence in Western living rooms, audiences fraternizing with the protesters certainly made it harder for Hosni Mubarak to fight back the revolt. Or: If no one’s even looking your way, there’s no need to put on the velvet gloves.

Bücher aus Ägypten

22 Feb

Humphrey Davies lebt seit 35 Jahren in Kairo und übersetzt arabische Bücher ins Englische. In einem Interview mit “The Browser” empfiehlt er 5 Romane und Bücher, die Ägypten und seine Gesellschaft sehr präzise skizzieren. Darunter die sehr erfolgreichen und sehr lesenswerten Romane “The Yacoubian Building” und “On Being Abbas el Abd”.


“Regionscape” bei Hürriyet Daily News

20 Feb

Die englische Seite der Hürriyet Daily News sortiert ihre Beiträge zur Internationalen Politik nach Regionen. Diese Regionen heissen allerdings interessanterweise nicht “Zentralasien”, “Naher Osten” oder “Europa”, sondern sind nach den grossen Flüssen benannt, die diese Regionen historisch und wirtschaftlich geprägt haben.

Bei den alten Ottomanen abgeguckt? Hürriets visuelle Annäherung an Regionalpolitik.

Source: www.hü