#pmanfail?

Ethan Zuckerman has run some quanty numbers on the Moldovan #pman protests. Initially convinced that the broad publicity the event garnered had “as much to do with self-congratulatory Twitterers talking about the revolutionary potential of social media as… actual discussions concerning people in Moldova and the Moldovan diaspora,” the numbers suggest the opposite. Many users were Romanian speakers, propagating news of the flash protest and significantly increasing the visibility and viability of the protest movement.

To a degree, this is an encouraging sign of technology’s influence on political outcomes, especially in a country as poor as Moldova (though see my post about Twitter and rioting here). It’s initial effect is undeniable, but a larger question must be raised. How sustainable really is the movement? When will the “twittesters” or their followers lose interest?

The immediate goals of reversing electoral fraud seem within reach — after the bruising publicity #pman tags brought down Moldovan communists — but could any broad agenda of reform really succeed via crowd-sourced agitation? That I would be interested to see.

For more on the developing Moldovan Revolution, see the BBC’s report, NetEffect’s first story, then Daniel Bennet, and back to Morozov.

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