Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Recommended: Internet Use in Ukraine's Orange Revolution

Researchers Volodymyr Lysenko and Kevin Desouza have published an analysis of the effect and use of technology in Ukraine's Orange Revolution. The report provides an extensive review of the development of Internet and telecommunication based methods to disseminate information and organize political opposition.

Interestingly, the report discusses the fact that the free-flow of information can have a multiplying effect even when only a small portion of the population has direct access to the Internet:
"In the case of Ukraine we observed that, due to the two–step nature of the information communication process, the provision of alternative information to even a relatively small number of dissenters was apparently sufficient to initiate a network–related effect, when the information spreads exponentially, like an epidemic. We can therefore conclude that the Internet does not need to have a mass penetration rate in order to effectively help in the promotion of a major socio–political change. "
The authors go on to discuss some of the attributes required for successful online opposition:
"[An] important finding was the necessity of locating the oppositional Web sites beyond the reach of the repressive authorities by hosting them on servers located in strong democratic countries. Moreover, in order to protect them relatively robustly from the cyberattacks initiated by authoritarian regimes, the servers should be situated in countries with relatively strong technical defenses and a highly ramified Internet network..."
"Additional strength is achievable by the creation of several mirror sites situated at different servers in physically different parts of the Internet. It is also essential that the national Internet domain name registrars remain free from control by the non–democratic authorities to prevent the authorities from suspending registration of the oppositional Internet resources and thus switching them off."
The report also discusses how both traditional media (television, print and radio) as well as online information sources were used by both sides in the conflict to control messages, counter-messages and disinformation.

Overall, this report is an excellent analysis and case study of Internet based protest and opposition.

Role of Internet–based information flows and technologies in electoral revolutions: The case of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution