Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Web 3.0 Lab: Rise of the Arab Web

Web 3.0 usage, especially Twitter, has exploded in the Arab world.

You can track the level of real time tweeting in Tahrir Sqr, or anywhere in the world, with the easy to use free tool

Total Social Media research project Clima tracks the intensity of Web 3.0 adoption and use anywhere in the world. Recently the Clima team has been glued to Cairo. Clima's Tweether Report has found a dramatic rise in the use of Twitter in Egypt through through much of the revolt.

Even when the Internet was shut down by Egypt's government tweets were getting out. Global communities of users were retweeting (or RTing) tweets so that any information coming out of Cairo was rapidly distributed globally. Collaboration and social networks played the same role in the Arab revolt that the printing press would have played in the US or French revolutions.

Once the Internet was available again Cairo Twitter exploded, with the intensity of tweeting rising dramatically over the weeks of protest. Usage in Tweeter reached levels like one normally only cities in Tokyo, London or New York.

Today is the first day after Mubarak resigned, and we are seeing very high usage of Tweeter in nations that allow it.

In a recent check the Tweeter intensity for key Arab on Saturday Feb 12, 2011 at 11 GMT cities was

To grasp the meaning of these levels look at two European cities at the same instance:

Now there are a number of factors involved here. One is that it is still morning in Europe and several hours later in the Arab world. Another is that Saturday is not as big a day off in the Arab world.

Also retweeting posts carries the geo-tagging on the post with it. So when I retweet a post from Egypt it counts as another tweet from the location of the original tweet, not from my location. Al Jazeera is being heavily retweeted in the rest of the world raising Doha's score.

But still this rise in the intensity of Arab tweeting is still amazing and we believe very real and likely long lasting.

Arab cities will tend to either be far poorer than in Europe and have less smartphones (Cairo), or if they are rich have a far smaller population (Doha). The normal stereotype of technology is that it should take years for the developing world to take on a new technology. We have gotten used to seeing the third world pick up new technology faster than we did. But I think with Twitter was are seeing something amazing in the Arab world. Users there have leap frogged the west and are using the tool more intensely and more intelligently then the west.

But also the story is about the rise of the global tweeter user. Arabs are finding that not only can they communicate with themselves via tweeting, but also with the wider world. And the wider world is engaged in the Arab revolt via tweeter and providing a massive collaborative community which has been well ahead of their governments or established medias.

For several weeks the richest source of global information has been Al Jazeera, which not too long ago was branded a propaganda mouth piece by the USA, and tweeting. The rise of the Caliphate 3.0 may be just around the corner.

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