Wednesday, April 14, 2010

North Vs. South

There's been some talk in the community of activists and scholars monitoring Krgyzstan's revolution, which now has ousted the president of the company, after anti-corruption protests turned into violent riots. In a piece on "Kygyzstan: The 'Archived' Revolution," commentator Alexey Sidorenko opened by explaining the North-South division of a country that is split by mountainous geography and the continuing role of Russia geopolitically in the region before moving into his analysis of how new media functioned in the eventual political upset in which a former reformer was overthrown by the masses on the street.

The role of the new media changed slightly this time compared to other dramatic events (like the protests in Moldova or Iran). Blogs and Twitter didn't serve as serious means of public mobilization since the Internet penetration rate is relatively small in Kyrgyzstan ( just 15 percent in 2009). However, new media were agile enough to cover all the main events giving detailed footage of initial protests in Talas, rampage in Bishkek and looting that followed. At the same time, new media were efficiently used by the opposition attracting the attention of international community and shifting public opinion to the side of the protesters. The opposition leader Roza Otunbaeva (@otunbaeva), for instance, registered her account as soon as she became the head of the provisional government. On the other day, son of president Bakiev, Maxim opened a LiveJournal account to express the pro-government point of view.

As Gregory Asmolov concluded [RUS], it was not “journalists 2.0″ who were the most efficient in covering Kyrgyz events but the “editors 2.0″. Bloggers who both knew the region and were outside the country to see the big picture and collected the photographs, videos and Twitter confessions. Two most informed bloggers in this situation were people outside the country: US-based Yelena Skochilo (a.k.a. LJ user morrire) and Kazakhstan-based Vyacheslav Firsov (a.k.a. lord_fame). They managed to assemble the most complete collections of photos, videos and timelines.

Another “winners” in the coverage are the local blog-portals,, (as well as traditional news sites like, and, forum and a wordless webcam showing Ala-Too square (its screenshots were captured and transmitted by many bloggers). Twitter hashtags #freekg (the major hashtag of the event), #bishkek, #kyrgyzstan and #talas, although filled with re-tweets and various provocations, made it possible for English-speaking audience to follow the events as well.

However the official government website of the country continues to be dark, as institutional authority is still in flux. Five years ago I offered this snapshot of the nation's government web design strategies. What will take its place is yet to be seen.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home