Introduction - Tweets and the Streets

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Tweets and the Streets Social Media and Contemporary Activism

Paolo Gerbaudo

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First published 2012 by Pluto Press 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA www.plutobooks.com Distributed in the United States of America exclusively by Palgrave Macmillan, a division of St. Martin’s Press LLC, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010 Copyright © Paolo Gerbaudo 2012 The right of Paolo Gerbaudo to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN  ISBN  ISBN  ISBN  ISBN 

978 0 7453 3249 9 Hardback 978 0 7453 3248 2 Paperback 978 1 8496 4800 4 PDF eBook 978 1 8496 4802 8 Kindle eBook 978 1 8496 4801 1 EPUB eBook

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data applied for

This book is printed on paper suitable for recycling and made from fully managed and sustained forest sources. Logging, pulping and manufacturing processes are expected to conform to the environmental standards of the country of origin. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Designed and produced for Pluto Press by Chase Publishing Services Ltd Typeset from disk by Stanford DTP Services, Northampton, England Simultaneously printed digitally by CPI Antony Rowe, Chippenham, UK and Edwards Bros in the United States of America

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Contents

Acknowledgementsvi Introduction1 1 ‘Friendly’ Reunions: Social Media and the Choreography of Assembly 18 2 ‘We are not guys of comment and like’: The Revolutionary Coalescence of Shabab-al-Facebook48 3 ‘We are not on Facebook, we are on the streets!’: The Harvesting of Indignation 76 4 ‘The hashtag which did (not) start a revolution’: The Laborious Adding Up to the 99% 102 5 ‘Follow me, but don’t ask me to lead you!’: Liquid Organising and Choreographic Leadership 134 Conclusion158 Appendix169 Notes173 Bibliography179 Index188

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Acknowledgements

As happens with most academic books, this volume has been the result not only of a solitary work of writing up, but also of conversations with dozens of people with whom I have exchanged ideas, developed discussions, and constructed common understandings. I am deeply indebted to them all. First and foremost I have to acknowledge the availability and kindness of the 80 interviewees who offered their testimonies and whose names are recorded in the Appendix. These interviews were precious occasions for getting to know passionate people who have dedicated their energy to the fight for democracy, economic equality and social justice. I also want to thank all the people who kindly made themselves available to provide their comments and advice. Among them the biggest thanks goes to Alice Mattoni, Patrick McCurdy and Iman Hamam, who were veritable travel companions during the writing up and editing phase of the book and who were always ready to offer thoughtful comments and constructive criticisms. I must also express my gratitude to Des Freedman, Samuel Toledano, Jo Littler, Alex Taylor, Nicola Montagna, Ben Little, Joseph Hill, and Emad el-Din Aysha for having provided comments on draft chapters. I would like to acknowledge the support and sympathy of my colleagues at Middlesex University during the early stages of developing the book, and in particular Andrew Goffey, Sarah Baker, Sophia Drakopoulos, Constantina Papoulias and Vivienne Francis. My thanks also go to my colleagues in the Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and Egyptology (SAPE) Department at the American University in Cairo, in particular to Amy Holmes, Mohammed Tabishat, Ivan Panovic and Mona Abaza. Besides my colleagues Alex Foti and Shimri Zameret, and many other friends provided me with useful insights during the writing up. I would l