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MR. MALCOMSON: Its an enormous pleasure for me to be here with this panel of people who are much more distinguished than I am. I hadnt realized that Evgeny was the first Open Society fellow. I met him when he was a fellow here, and I was immediately taken with his kind of liltingly, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes cynical, always extremely well-informed approach to issues of the web, at a time, I guess, what was it three years ago, when the relationship between the web and politics and communication was entirely one of enthusiasm and unbridled utopianism. It was very, very nice to hear from Evgeny, and it was clear that he was going to take a somewhat different path, and boy has he, as youll know from reading various attacks on him in the press recently. Its also great to be here with Anne. Anne Nelson was for years the executive director, if I remember correctly, of Committee to Protect Journalists. Before that, she was a correspondent in various dangerous places and won lots of prizes. Shes been at Columbia for a number of years now at SIPA. You might also have read about her play, The Guys, which was set in the period after 9/11, and of course its on a subject dear to me. Steve Walt, a very distinguished member of the international relations fraternity, a sexist term, fraternity-sorority, and at Princeton before that. When we were emailing just before this event, and I wanted to give everyone a chance to sort of suggest things that we could talk about, Steve made a point of saying that he wanted everybody to realize that despite the ways that Evgenys book has been caricatured, it is a wide-ranging and subtle work. Steve and his co-author, John Mearsheimer, about the Israel lobby is as experienced as anyone really could be, with having arguments caricatured. So I thought that was very nice for you to reach out in that way. Turning to our star for the evening, just an amazing book, which by the way, you might have noticed is in stacks out there and available for purchase. I cant actually do justice to it by summarizing it. There are -- probably a number of you came because theres quite a bit about Soren Kierkegaard at one point in the book. (Laughter.) MR. MALCOMSON: But theres also some stuff about net activism and other subjects, and maybe well get to Kierkegaard in the Q and A, though its a really nice passage. I wanted to start though, with a part that isnt about Kierkegaard. Its just a line from the book, which Im hoping you can kind of explain and expand on. He writes that Under the pressure of religious, nationalist and cultural forces reignited by the Internet, global politics is poised to become even more complex, contentious and fragmented. I was wondering if you could maybe kind of expand on that point a little, and maybe, I would add business and economic forces to that as well. MR. MOROZOV: Uh-huh, sure. Well, the main reason why I wrote this book was to provide some insight to policymakers as to what they should do about the web, when they go about projects like promoting democracy. So to me, it was very interesting to go back and examine some of their assumptions about how the world would work, when we all become digital, when everyone gets online, when everyone has blogs. Many of those assumptions predicted a kind of world where were all moving towards a very homogenous kind of, you know, political and social regime, where we all practice democracy, where you know, nationalism is the thing of the post. Amicos Negroponte, in his famous book in 1995 or 1996, Being Digital, actually said that in the future, there will be as much room for nationalism online as there is for smallpox now. So I mean there were a lot of expectations about the death of nationalism, the death of cultural differences and social differences, and this just the opposite of what I have observed while watching the web. I mean we do see a little of social cultural forces in places, again like Russia, but also in many democracies, in India, you know, in Iran, in China, even in the United States, taking to the web to basically hang out with people that they already share something with. Whether its religious identity, whether its cultural identity, and the many places, again Russia here, I think, offers a good example. Well see a little of tension between our nations which are part, for example, of the Russian Federation. We do see a little of nations in the Caucuses turning to the web to discover things about their nation that have been suppressed in the Soviet regime, and now by the Kremlin for decades. Of course, this does often result in tension, and this does often result in them trying to battle with, you know, the digital population. But the reason why I mentioned that in the book is not to, you know, take a stand as to whether its good or bad, but to point out that a load of complications will emerge from the fact that so many people are getting online, which will probably make even the project of promoting democracy much harder than many people expect. So you have to factor in many additional factors in the process, that I dont think policymakers have factored in up to this point, in thinking about even the ramifications of promoting a concept like (inaudible). MR. MALCOMSON: Before we leave the subject of beating up on the utopians of the mid-90s, which is a worthwhile pursuit, I think, but what do you -- what do you think were the reasons, like sociologically or politically why that kind of intense optimism existed at that point? MR. MOROZOV: I think a little of this optimism actually stems not from utopian assumptions about technology; it stems from the popularity of certain political theories in the early 90s. Again, you look at Francis Fukuyamas work on the End of History, you do see a chapter there talked the Victory of the VCR. So again, many of these extremely optimistic and enthusiastic assumptions, they do not come from a decades of stamp thinking about what technology does. They just, you know, come from people making certain assumptions, how the world would be politically in ten years, and technology just, you know, fills in whatever needs to be filled in conceptually. So some of that is not the result of indepth thinking or analysis about technology. But there are some. Again, you look at people like Thomas Friedman and many others, where theyre eagerly promoting the idea that once people get online, they will start comparing their own governments with the governments next door. Again, I dont know to what extent these assumptions about technologies come from his belief in the power of the Internet, or they come from, you know, his belief in where societies are heading generally, you know, democratically and other ways. So I think you have to factor in many assumptions which have nothing to do with technology to understand some of this utopianism. But I also think if you look historically at this period, definitely in the early 90s there was a little of excitement about the power of, you know, fax machine and Xerox machines and the role that they played in ending the Cold War. There was a definitely a little excitement about -- MR. MALCOMSON: In terms of -- MR. MOROZOV: In terms of facilitating. Some start smuggling in literature, you know, and a lot of people were excited because they thought that the Internet will just be, you know, Xerox machines on steroids. So of course they expected that it will empower dissidents and it will empower human rights activists, probably much more than the dictators, and I think there was also something wrong with that assumption. But you do have to look at the end of the Cold War as a source of metaphors, as a source of conceptual models of understanding how the Internet works, and many of those models, I think, are now being discovered. When a lot of policymakers who have previously (inaudible) the policymakers, and all policymakers who have previously, who didnt pay much attention to the Internet, they suddenly now have to grapple with issues like Internet freedom. Their first reference point now is mostly the role of us in broadcasting during the Cold War, and again the role of the technologists. So partly its their assumptions about politics and partly I think its the background to the Cold War, which explains some of this utopianism. MR. MALCOMSON: Uh-huh, uh-huh. I do wonder how, and its impossible to say, but I do wonder how much of a role that kind of utopianism= played amongst the engineers who were actually building the things that then made this possible? In other words, how much of a spur to innovation of the kind of optimism about the future was for them, not a political class but a digital utopian class in a kind of pure sense? MR. MOROZOV: Uh-huh. Sure. I mean there were clearly again, as Ive said, people like Negroponte, but also people like, you know, Kevin Kelly, who in the early 90s they produced a lot of work, which did make the assumption that once people are armed with communication tools, democracy is the only possible result, that will eventually, you know, come out. So there -- now some of that -- MR. MALCOMSON: Googles own manifesto, which was not written -- MR. MOROZOV: I mean Google came later. MR. MALCOMSON: Well, okay. But Im just saying that among people who were not writing, not like Kevin Kelly who were writing about it, but people who were actually innovating, the role that it might have played for them as well. MR. MOROZOV: Yes, and they also have an additional assumption, which is they presume that the design features of the Internet will eventually translate into design features of political systems, and they thought that since its so hard to -- MR. MALCOMSON: In a good way. MR. MOROZOV: Of course, in a good way. I mean they thought that since its -- the Internet runs in the centralized infrastructure, and since its very hard to send the information on the Internet, you will end up with a social and political system, which will also be very decentralized and will reject authority. So in many of these arguments, theyll play out now in the public debate. You do hear the technologists saying that there are certain features of the Internet which may (inaudible) as unsustainable, and this is the fact that again it is designed in a certain way, and you know, it routes around damage in a certain way. People, especially engineers, are prone to making those assumptions, thinking that, you know, the design features will also modify how societies work. I think thats also one of the poorly examined assumptions in those days. MR. MALCOMSON: Tim Berners Lee especially comes to mind, in terms of thinking that there would be, that his vision of the web was both heavily imposed by him, but as a kind of structure that societies would be able to exist in, but with an underlying assumption that it would be, lead in a progressive direction rather than be politically neutral, which seems to be more or less what youre suggesting. MR. MOROZOV: Definitely, and again I think many of those assumptions about the political power of the web, again, they were made in the early 90s, when there were also little assumptions made about the nature of authoritarian regimes that were to be fought. And authoritarian regimes, of course, in those places like Russia and China, have not gone. They have evolved tremendously in the last 20 years. So a lot of those assumptions about the design impact of the Internet on political systems, still today, you know, the Russias and Chinas of this world, as if they are still stuck in 1990, and not in 2010 and 2011. I think, you know, the engineers are not necessarily, you know. They dont browse the latest journals in comparative politics. So they may not necessarily have a good grasp of how those authoritarian regimes function, and again, they also often use the Cold War vocabulary and, you know, that kind of experience, to understand how modern China works, which of course is not a very useful strategy. MR. MALCOMSON: I want to ask one more thing, and then Im going to bring in my fellow panelists here. But at the end of the book, you talk about digital realism, and you say a number of things that people shouldnt do. But in terms of the sort of positive prescriptions for what a digital realist would do in policy terms. Its -- well, you leave it to be filled in by the next book. But what would you? Can you fill in some of that now? MR. MOROZOV: Sure. Well again, my task and objective I set upon myself in this book was to try to get the framework right, was to try to get the first principles right, in which policy that would involve the Internet would be formulated. I think what has happened up until now with institutions like the State Department is that they tried to compartmentalize technology and the Internet into units which were not really, you know, connected with the other policies, whether its policy in Russia, policy in China, policy in Iran. So ended up with a lot of very smart technologists doing a lot of very important things, but without necessarily grasping the ramifications of their own actions. They ended up having much more influence on non-technological aspects of U.S. foreign policy than was ever intended. So part of my project in the book is to try to prevent such situations from happening, try to get the first principles right, and to make sure that instead of trying to empower those technologists to see and think big thoughts about how the Internet will change Russia or China, when all they know is how the Internet works, but not how China and Russia works, I want to move to a different model where we actually start with people with regional experience and with people who are knowledgeable, and who know actually what the American policy on Russia or China is, trying to integrate the Internet into their own work. So for me to start offering prescriptive advice in the book will go against my own project, because you know, part of my project has been, you know, stop listening to Internet gurus. Stop listening to people who know so much about the Internet, and start listening to people who actually know about the regional context. Thats why I deliberately didnt want to go into offering much prescriptive advice, because I want to focus on the mechanism and the principles, not on how you fill in those mechanism or principles. You know, because that stuff has to come from the experts. It doesnt, it shouldnt come from people who are knowledgeable about the (inaudible) of the Internet. MR. MALCOMSON: So youre destroying the gurus? MR. MOROZOV: Yes, of course. MR. MALCOMSON: Youre the last guru or the anti-guru. MR. MOROZOV: The last guru standing, Ill say. MR. MALCOMSON: Steve, how does that stack up with your experience of political realism with respect to the web? MR. WALT: Well, I think the most important aspect in Evgenys book is the emphasis on being sort of concrete and specific, as opposed to being ideologistic or utopian and assuming that this technology is going to have sort of uniform effects everywhere. What the book does, I think, a really terrific job of is saying that this has big effects, but the effects are unpredictable. The effects are going to be different in different contexts, in different societies at different points in time, and it will depend both on what the, call it populations do with the technology, also what governments do in response to it, possibly what the United States and other countries do to try and use all of this. And you know, thats at least consistent with the sort of generally broad realist view, that you start with the world as it really is, not how wed like it to be, not how we might imagine it would be in 20 or 30 years. But you start it as -- with the world as it really is, and then try to understand how a particular piece might affect events in Russia in one case, but be very different in China, but be very different in Tunisia or Egypt, and very different in say, you know, France or Sweden or elsewhere, instead of assuming that we know from the very beginning sort of what the overall effect of a particular technological or family of technological developments are going to be. In that sense, its very consistent with a generally realist view, even if its not sort of specific IR theory that you would call, you know, an international relations theory of realism. MR. MALCOMSON: Would you agree that technology is as essentially neutral as Evgeny describes it? MR. WALT: Thats in fact its something Id love to push him a little bit more on, because in the book, for the reasons he just said, intends to be rather agnostic at the end, as to what the overall effect of these technological developments are. And I wanted to ask sort of does he really believe that its quite as on the one hand, on the other hand as the book comes off by the end? So that in 50 years, does he think that in fact this big family of technology that we call the Internet or social media or whatever, is it going to move politics in a more democratic direction over the next 50 years, or is it going to be sort of yes in some places, but no in others? Id love to smoke him out a little bit further on what his instincts are, even though the book is scrupulously sort of on the one hand, on the other hand on that particular question. MR. MOROZOV: You know, Im glad that you call me agnostic, because if you look at some of the media coverage of the book, most people assume that I do come down on one side, and thus thinking that its all bad and its terrible, and you know were about to be destroyed. MR. WALT: Youre going to get the reputation of being Edmund Burke of the Internet revolution. (Laughter.) MR. WALT: Which would not be fair to you, would not be fair to you. (Simultaneous speaking.) MR. MOROZOV: So but no. I think, you know, to me the question is whats the point of coming out with an opinion on that, you know, because to me the ultimate interest is policy. Its not Internet criticism and its not media criticism. I understand media critics who want to come up with a vision of what the Internet is doing and what is good or bad for society. Neil Postman have to make a stance on what technology does. You know, people like Clay Shirky need to make a stance because by their definition, they are media critics whose job is to, you know, provide critique to different kinds of media. I dont want to be a media critic, so and I dont really think that would be healthy for policymakers to make essentialist assumptions about what technology does everywhere, because again, as I think I argue in the book, I reject those essentialist accounts of technological change. So I think there are certain things which I will acknowledge about the Internet. I will acknowledge that it mostly facilitates collective action. It makes it easier and cheaper to access information. Im fine with kind of going as far as technology, some of the main features of the Internet. But as we all well know, how those two particular features will play out in a particular social and political context depends on the context, not on the features, right. So Im fine with drawing out a list of things which are transformative about the Internet. Im just not sure that theyll all necessarily adopt to something coherent in the end. So thats why Ive been so resistant to come down with -- so the Net Delusion in the title of the book is not my definitive stance on how the Internet transforms society. Its more my critique of how policymakers have treated the web in the last two decades, right, and this is a very important distinction which I think many people dont get. They think I do want to come out with -- you know, Neil Postman-like statement of what technology does, and I dont. MR. MALCOMSON: If you dont want to be a media critic, you have a problem, because thats where youre being pigeonholed, to some degree. MR. MOROZOV: Yes. I -- you know, I dont deny that. MR. MALCOMSON: Do you -- have you developed strong opinions about the sort of governance issues with the Internet? For example, with Ikon or where the servers are positioned and those sorts of issues? Theres been movement at the UN for the last few years to do something, which hasnt led to much of anything. You know, the U.S. position has generally been that its best to keep these things in U.S. private hands, which is not all that surprising a position, but may also be the best one. MR. MOROZOV: Sure. I dont have a theory, again, of how governance should work. I have some opinions on certain issues. You know, I think that there are legitimate concerns that many countries have about the fact that the U.S. have so much control on Internet governance. But again, its not a simple issue, and leaving it to the UN is not something I would endorse wholeheartedly either, particularly if it will take the form of, you know, the same form that Human Rights Commissions take in the UN, and this is obviously a risk. I dont have a way to solve it, but again, to me, and again I may be destroying my reputation here, but like to me, its not -- it doesnt even matter what I think about those issues, because I know that they will need to be resolved at some point. The reason why I highlight some of them in the book is because they will definitely be factors that need to be considered when you talk about things like Internet freedom, when you talk about how to use the Internet to promote democracy, because they will shape perceptions of other countries towards the U.S. So I dont have a theory which will fix the Internet, to fix the Internet governance, and I dont think I could ever write a book where I would talk about democracy promotion and fixing Internet governance, you know, at the same time. But again, I deliberately want to make sure that those issues are considered. Thats why I do talk about the fact that America, as an actor in this space, triggers certain attitudes and behaviors in other countries. The history of U.S. foreign policy, even if we dont like that, ends up constraining the space available for maneuver, in the Internet freedom kind of, you know, space, right. So thats something we need to be aware of, but I dont have an answer, and you know, I have opinions about particular matters, but in no way I have an answer, and again, I dont think that my answer should matter, inasmuch as it concerns the future of the Internet freedom agenda. MR. MALCOMSON: Im just -- frankly, the debates are taking place. Theyre not taking place in any particularly transparent or available way. They strike me as very significant, and Id love for there to be more sophisticated and thoughtful voices engaging in coming up with those answers. So Id love to volunteer you, but youre clearly resisting that, as well as being a media critic. MR. MOROZOV: (inaudible) MR. MALCOMSON: Anne, you mentioned before, I mean you dont have to talk about this, but that your son was actually involved in some of the Egyptian Twittering and all that. That must have affected your views on the book and some of these arguments. MS. NELSON: Yes. I think that what I think is so extraordinary about the book is its emphasis on local knowledge, and when you look at Egypt in particular, you see a very specific phenomenon. What Ive heard Evgeny argue over a few years now is that it is not one-size-fits-all, in terms of technology and societies. If you make technological decisions without local knowledge, youre very likely to make some mistakes. C.P. Snow used to talk about the two cultures, the divisions between science and the liberal arts. I see that very, very much in what were going through now. The technologists come out of fantastic technological backgrounds. They know everything about programming. Very frequently they have not spent a week in a hut getting fleas in a developing country. Theres an almost bright line between those two cultures. So they extrapolate. They look at Egypt and they think it might behave like Silicon Valley, and it doesnt. They dont look at a country of 80 million, which is more or less what Egypt is, and say oh, a million people have broadband. What does that mean? 160,000 people are bloggers. Theyre probably most of the same people who have broadband, and the same people who are the million people who have newspapers. So theres this whole culture of media that differs a great deal from country to country, and we will think that it represents a democratic, broad-based movement. Well project all of our own hopes and desires onto it, without thoroughly understanding the dynamics of that country. And in that way, we can just be wrong. We can come up with the wrong answers, and as Evgeny says, bad policies. So what Id love to see is a lot more local knowledge, a lot more involvement of anthropology, of area studies, of people who come from that perspective, especially the knowledge of poor countries, which behave differently than rich countries, in technology, among other things, and bring that together with the tech community, and say dont just go to the capital of a country and look at the main square and the people who have iPhones. Theyre not necessarily representative of the entire picture, and if you make them the icons of a political movement, you may get -- you may come out the wrong end of this political process. MR. MALCOMSON: Youll always be disappointed, at least. MS. NELSON: Well, the way I see technology is as a catalyst. Whatevers happening in a society, it can make it happen faster. In some societies, bad things are happening, and it can make bad things happen faster too. In some societies, good things. So in most societies, its both. One of the most fascinating projects Ive seen overall is in China. I just came back from Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong has this fascinating China media projects that charts the blogosphere and the microblogs of China, and everything that we know about censorship in China and so on is largely correct. At the same time, the Chinese government has taken this huge initiative to build Internet infrastructure into the poorest of the rural areas, where in many cases theyre doubling the incomes of desperately poor farmers, and theyre using online media to bring medicine and education to the desperately poor. Now guess what? Thats popular, and when we come from the west and we have this single prism, which is censorship, its a hard time -- we have a hard time having a dialogue with the Chinese, because some of them like having their incomes doubled. Im not sure we know how to have that conversation, given our immediate lens. Im not saying the censorship focus is wrong. I think its important. I think its proper. But its not broad enough. MR. MALCOMSON: Now would it be useful to compare Tunisia and Egypt in that respect, because Tunisia developed an Internet practice that was in some ways encouraging it more, partly for the reasons that Anne describes. I mean not exactly, but more or less for economic development, whereas Egypts approach tended to be that the Internet was just sort of the enemy of stability, for the most part, on political rather than economic grounds. MR. MOROZOV: Well, I mean if you look at, if you compare the two, I mean they actually two different models of how governments can approach the Internet. In Tunisia, they had one of the most sophisticated systems of Internet control in the world. I mean it was second only to China, and they really had invested a lot of brain power into thinking through censorship and control issues. By that, they also cultivated this very large network of cyberactivists in Tunisia, whose whole, you know, point was to defeat the censorship systems, you know. They bonded together, and formed, you know, created the human network. These people traveled the roads sometimes, you know. They went to workshops. They became a very influential human network, which was very instrumental in publicizing what was happening in Tunisia during the protests to the outside world. So from that perspective, I think in some sense, Ben Ali was actually digging his own grave by, you know, helping those people bond together. I mean in Russia, I dont think -- MR. MALCOMSON: In calling this web opposition into being. MR. MOROZOV: Yes. I mean if I look at Russia, I just dont see a similar cohort as well-organized as in Tunisia, for example, dealing with issues of cyberactivism. I mean there are definitely a lot of activists and there are a lot of interesting bloggers in Russia who complain online, but I dont think that they have as much focus on, you know, working as a network and working as a collective, which was the case in Tunisia. In Egypt on the other hand, you had very little Internet censorship to begin with. They didnt ban any websites. I think three years ago they used to ban the website of the Muslim Brotherhood, but they lifted that ban three years ago. What they did was very brutally go and intimidate the bloggers, and beat them up and load them up in jail, and that worked to some extent. You know, many of the bloggers we know eventually left Egypt and settled in South Africa or elsewhere. So it was in some sense effective. But it was the Egyptians who actually had the very progressive deputy minister of Communications, who -- or maybe I think it was the Minister of IST, who very forward-looking. Egypt hosted one of the 2009 summit of the Internet Governance Forum, you know, where the wife of Mubarak came and gave a speech. You know, so they clearly saw it as an engine of economic change. So they did embrace it. I think thats one of the reasons why they didnt have censorship. MR. MALCOMSON: They just wanted to have it on a global scale, rather than merely in Egypt. MR. MOROZOV: Perhaps, but again, I dont know to what extent those developments explained the power and the way in which social media was used for mobilization. I dont think it was driven all that much by the fact in which either control chose to control the Internet. Again, it had to with the fact that Facebook was extremely popular in both countries. When you look to many other countries, if you look to China, Facebook is not as popular there. Its all about local sites, where the culture is different and where probably any calls to organize a protest would be removed in, you know, an hour. While on Facebook, they stayed on five days, whatever, seven days until the Internet was cut off in Egypt, right. So again, you do have to look at the specifics of the local Internet cultures, and look at what services are used, how, you know, what languages are spoken. When You Tube was launched in Tunisia, many of them used the French site for their emotion, simply because many of them spoke French. Again, that option wouldnt be available to those who do not speak French, right. So again, you do have to look at the particulars of the Internet culture to understand what enabled some of the cyberactivism to happen once the protests took off. MR. WALT: All right. Theres a larger methodological point here that I think is actually important, which is that its easy to sort of what we would say in the social science biz, select on the dependent variable and look at events like Egypt, look at events like Tunisia and immediately say Ahh, well these are places where either Facebook or the Internet or maybe it was Al-Jazeera. We actually dont know which of these things had the biggest impact. There are, you know, by some counts, 60 or 70 non-democratic countries in the world that have not had a major upheaval in the last two weeks, all right, and in most of those, theres the Internet. Its still in there. In most of those, there is some degree of discontent with the government. The point being that we actually do know a lot about revolutionary upheavals, and we know that theyre highly contingent events. Theyre hard to predict in advance. You can sort of know countries where theres a potential for it, but none of us are very good at forecasting exactly when youre going to get this kind of thing happening. Again, I think this is one of the points that Evgeny is trying to make through his book, is that you really have to look at these on a case-by-case basis, and not assume that injecting one ingredient, the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, is the magic key that then causes the same sort of responses in each places, in each place. Quite the opposite. MR. MOROZOV: And furthermore, I think there is something about technology which makes us less reluctant to question other social and political factors. I think that was on display in the media coverage of what happened in Iran in 2009, when again, most commentators jumped on the kind of revolution name, without examining what was actually, whether those tools were actually used by Iranians, right, and to what extent. And so I think there is something particular to technology, and this is where I have to put on that small hat of a media critic, which you know, does make the debate less focused on the political and social factors, that would actually be far more responsible for the actual situation on the ground of that technology, which is the tendency, I think, and which is very unhealthy to see in technology things which -- You know, it just -- in some sense, it provides the lowest-hanging kind of fruit intellectually. You know, if you dont know much about Iran or Tunisia or Egypt, its just very easy to blame everything on Twitter or Facebook or Wikileaks, and it very nicely can be packaged in a three minute special on television. So you end up with a little of those narratives which do look kind of deliverable, unless you really go and start examining how many people were tweeting in Iran, how many people actually used the Twitter in Iran before the elections, and you start looking at where are some of the most active Twitters, you know, who were Twitting from Iran. Some of them actually are not in the country. So again, you have to go and examine all of that, rather than just fall for this very simplistic, deterministic explanation, that are very easy to come up with if all you look at is the media and technology. MS. NELSON: I think thats a really important point, and I think what youve got now is the formation of self-referential community that involves some people attached to the State Department, some people attached to journalism, who are covering Facebook and Twitter revolutions, and thats the mirror that they hold up to every event that happens. So they tweet the photographs of people holding signs that say Google and Twitter and Facebook, but they dont look at the rest of the picture. You know, if you wanted to really talk about Egypt, youd need to talk about textile workers and trade unions and youd also need to talk about legacy media, because a lot of the most influential websites are the websites of newspapers, right. They have real reporters, real editors. They put up content online thats generated in news organizations. All of this becomes the bottom 90 percent of the iceberg that doesnt get discussed. So I think thats just a real mistake. MR. WALT: And the thing thats most striking about the Egyptian case is not the amount of electrons that are flowing around; its the fact that you had 100,000 people who were willing to go out, at some considerable physical risk, totally disrupt their lives for an extended period of time, all right. MR. MOROZOV: Even when the Internet was off. MR. MALCOMSON: Even when the Internet is off. In fact, the numbers go up when the Internet gets turned off, so and thats again not something you can understand by knowing a lot about the technology. You would have to know a lot about the degree of social networking that was independent, whether it was labor organizations, possibly the Muslim Brotherhood, which does eventually decide its going to support a movement that it did not begin. Theres a lot of politics and a lot of social mobilization going on independent of all the electronic media, even though that may have had some impact in helping people coordinate their activities. MR. WALT: Well, I would say, as a member of the legacy media, I would also just add to that, particularly as you know, budgets have gone down and there are fewer people reporting, what comes across on Twitter or what comes through these new means become, of course, so much more important for us trying to make sense of some place thats far a away, and maybe we dont even have a reporter there. So you tend to, because youre experiencing it through Twitter, you tend to think that a big part of the experience was Twitter, and its just sort of not surprising that that would, you know, that that would happen, even though it would be quite misleading. I mean a lot of the -- the first few days in Egypt, what struck me the most was how little I was hearing about the traditional political parties, who in fact were, you know, quite actively planning and continue to plan for what their role will be in a future Egyptian government. That stuff wasnt there. But you know, its really becoming a means of information circulation here, and its, you know, where they can shut down the state TVs and they can shut down the state radio. This is something they cant shut down, and it becomes incredibly important for us, but distractingly and misleadingly important. MR. MALCOMSON: Maybe if there are questions, I can take questions rather from Steve, who is in charge with the cyber world back there, or anyone in the audience. MR. WALT: The question is do we get a question from Liberation Square? (Laughter.) MS. NELSON: Well, I guess while were waiting for that, Id just like to make a point about the Muslim Brotherhood, and again, you have to go back to censorship of legacy media. They did not have access to newspapers. They could not found a newspaper. They could not be covered by Egyptian television in the same way. They went to the Internet a couple of years ago, were closed down, and they fragmented their sites out to candidates, and connected that to Internet radio. So I would say that ideally in a democracy, you want all legitimate parties and political interests to have access to a common agara (ph) or media space. If that cant happen in legacy media, its going to come out online. But thats not necessarily the only place it should take place. MR. MALCOMSON: So anybody with a question should line up behind this microphone, which is our only microphone here. Im going to get the ball rolling by two questions from our online audience. I want to send a shout-out to the online audience for joining us tonight. The first question is whether there is something intrinsic in being a pioneering blogger, that inclines that community to a greater democratic, more democratic disposition vis--vis the state, a more contrarian or dissident position vis--vis the state, because thats an assumption that a lot of us make, that the early adapters, the early bloggers are by definition dissidents. So thats a two-parter. Is it true, and if so, why might it be true? Another question that came over was whether there is something in the nature of the grapevine-like means of communication and social media that makes it more difficult technologically, logistically and mechanically to censor than more traditional forms of media that go through a telephone central or through the Ministry of Communications or other centralized apparatuses? MR. MOROZOV: Sure. Ill try to take those quickly. On the first question, I think there is definitely still an assumption which is pervasive, if you look at the public discourse about the media, that bloggers are your dissidents. I mean there is definitely, particularly if you look at some of the statements from officials at the State Department. Even in some of the remarks by Hillary Clinton, you would see little reference between blogging being the new revolutionary activity and bloggers being, you know, dissidents being created. There are a lot of those remarks. I think they do not -- they may help in some countries. I dont think that they actually offer a very good paradigm for thinking about the power of blogging and what people actually are doing, because its those on the ground. Again, you look at a country like Iran or China or Russia, you will see that a lot of bloggers are not dissidents, you know. They either endorse the government, domestic policy or foreign policy or both, right. You do see a lot of bloggers in Iran who are far more conservative than Ahmadinejad. And again if you start with this framework of bloggers as dissidents, you know, they probably do dissent in some sense from the governments mainstream position. But they do not necessarily have the kind of democratic, political and secular views that you often expect them to have. I think one of the reasons why it happens is because again, it brings us back to the question of largest media, because a lot of journalists on the ground are the ones who produce the stories about bloggers in Iran or Egypt or China or Russia, and very often bloggers who hate the west and hate democracy are not the ones who enjoy talking to BBC and CNN or the New York Times for that matter. So we end up mostly with a council of bloggers who are oppressed by the government, and whoa re fighting against, you know, for secular democracy, pro-western democracy, which is not very representative. And some of that happens not just because, you know, Muslim Brotherhood bloggers do not want to talk to the western media. Often, they just dont speak English. That is a very basic problem right there. So I think there is definitely something wrong often with the kind of coverage that bloggers get as a sort of social movement and a social force. With regards to the second question, I dont think that anything about the way the Internet works makes it harder than other forms of communication to control. Again, put enough money on the table, and you will find enough entrepreneurs who will build the right tools to control and suppress anything on the Internet. Again, as we have discovered, was much of the Chinese censorship and Internet control apparatus was facilitated by American firms, who build those tools, often to be used in domestic context and then instead of being used in American libraries, theyre being used in Chinese universities to ban access to certain websites. So if anything, if you look at the evolution of social media over the last decade, I would argue that it may actually make it easier to block access to certain sites in a much more, you know, smarter and strategic fashion, because you can actually factor in everything you know about the user, and what they want to access, right. So you can factor in who your friends are, what you have wrote previously. A lot of this information was self-disclosed voluntarily because it makes our life online easier. There are real benefits to sharing, you know, your location, what you have read, who your friends are on many sites. You know, now you go to a site like Keyelp (ph), to a site like Pandora, if you log in with your Facebook account, you will see the kind of restaurants your Facebook friends have liked, and the kind of music that your friends have liked on Pandora. Again, all of this is great, but its a model which can very easily be used for the complete opposite. Instead of showing you the pages you may enjoy because you have certain friends, you will be prevented from seeing the same pages because of who your friends are and what you have read in the past. So I think there is actually something which makes such customization easier online than it ever was with analog media. I mean there are also many benefits, technologies like Thor. I mean there are ways in which you can stay anonymous if you want to. But I think the logic on which the Internet runs today is all about disclosing who you are, who you do and what you want to accomplish. Its not about necessarily, you know, using Thor to, you know, you cant use Thor to stay anonymous on Facebook, because the whole point of Facebook is not to be anonymous. Its to be social, right. Thats why its called social media, not anti-social media. So again, I think there is a limit as to what some of those tools can accomplish. I dont know if others want to comment. MR. WALT: Yes. I would just throw in a couple of very quick thoughts about this. I think some of these technologies do make it harder for governments in many circumstances to control a narrative or control public perceptions. I think if you see what You Tube can do with videos that go viral, whether its an American helicopter thats doing something in Iraq, or its a demonstration thats taking place in some part of the West Bank or whatever. It then goes viral. Its harder for governments, I think, to shape a narrative. But to argue that the blogosphere or, for that matter, cable news favors the left or the right, I think, is quite wrong. If you look at the sort of top-rated websites, blogging websites in the United States, they are not overwhelmingly on one side or the other. There are plenty of, you know, national review online, Bright-barts, various enterprises just like Fox News, which of course reflects the politics of the United States as not being heavily to one side or the other. But the idea that the blogosphere is necessarily progressive, necessarily left wing, I think, just doesnt stand up to empirical scrutiny. MS. NELSON: And theres another point of Evgenys book that we havent really discussed, which is the amusing ourselves to death aspect. I remember the aha moment when he was saying most people in other countries are not sitting there downloading Human Rights Watch reports. MR. MOROZOV: You shouldnt say that here. MS. NELSON: Im sorry. You know, theyre looking at cat videos, and -- MR. WALT: If were lucky. MS. NELSON: If were lucky. As I travel, all I can say is my experience says hes right. So in a way, rather than this narrative that we think about with, you know, good and evil and justice and so on, weve got this amusing ourselves to death narrative, where people may be spending more time on trivial matter and less time with the real questions that would define what wed like to think of as civil society. The book is very powerful in making this argument, and I wrote a book called Red Orchestra that came out last year, that talked about Googles theory of media in Nazi Germany. People think it was about (German phrase) and Nazi propaganda. What he really was about was light musical comedy and entertainment, to distract the Germans from what the government was doing. So when you look at the Internet and its power of not only distraction but addiction, I think this is a dimension that every society needs to think about a lot more. MS. FITZPATRICK: Hi, thank you. Im Katherine Fitzpatrick. I had a comment and a question. I think if you look at Russia, and you just look at the way the tools have empowered authoritarians and the FSB and the nation lists and so on, thats an incomplete picture, because its a struggle and its not over yet, and you still have things like the Article 31 movement and Memorial Society and so on and live journals using the very same Internet, and you have sort of a new third culture, which is the Bart Camp geek culture, the Facebook devs in Russia and so on that arent going to protest the war in Chechnya, but theyre not going to be like soccer fans either. So its a struggle and its diverse. My question for Evgeny goes right to the issue of U.S. foreign policy, given the uses and misuses of this technology. Youve been a very sharp critic of the 21st century statecraft sort of -- MR. MOROZOV: Because I dont know what it is. MS. FITZPATRICK: --nonsense thats been espoused, as you would say, and youve also, if Ive understood you correctly, have been very critical of U.S. aid to bloggers abroad, thinking that its maybe the kiss of death or that it bumbles. It does things like the haystack mistakes, you know. So my question really is do you think we can have a foreign policy, especially given what we see in Egypt now, where weve backed the wrong horse all this time? Can we have a policy that does support the Internet and its circumvention technologies and its bloggers in other countries as part of our foreign policy, whether in Egypt or in Belarus, or should we stay out of the business altogether? Thank you. MR. MALCOMSON: Thank you. MR. MOROZOV: On the question of Russia, on the comment about Russia, I think (inaudible). I mean we do need to look at what NGOs are doing with the media, to what activists are doing with the media. Again, as Ive tried to articulate today and the point of my book is not to offer a comprehensive take on what the Internet is doing to the world. Again, Im not trying to balance one column with another and say its all bad, its all good. Im only trying to point out certain things, which I think have not yet been recognized by many people in Washington, who do that foreign policy. I think all of them have recognized that activists and NGOs are using the media. I mean that story has been told by hundreds of people before me. So all Im trying to do is to offer some kind of corrective to the dominant narrative. Im not denying that the media has been used and it can be used for promoting democracy and for, you know, promoting democratic values. So I mean I take your point, but in no way did I mean to reject kind of all the good things that are happening. In regards to U.S. foreign policy, I think I dont subscribe to the view that people like (inaudible) have, on I dont think why you think that I actually think. Wow, thats kind of complex. I dont know why you want to attribute his views to me. I do think that there are ways in which the U.S. can be a legitimate force for support and of assistance to bloggers. In Egypt actually, the U.S. has been offering support to bloggers, and they have been training bloggers from U.S. AID on the ground. Ive actually been myself to some of those workshops in Cairo at the American University, and I think, you know, some of them probably paid off. What I do not want the U.S. to do is to have a number of technologists or geeks shaping foreign policy, without necessarily realizing the consequences and ramifications of actions that to them seem purely technological, because again, I do think that certain people in the State Department have been empowered in ways that their bosses havent realized. They havent realized what the consequences of that would be. So all Im really saying is that we do need to bring back the foreign policy dimension to many of those debates. In some countries, that support will be useful; in some countries, it will not be useful. Again, you have to, I think, to factor in all of this original and historical and foreign policy complexities which, as far as I can judge by looking at two years of 21st century statecraft talk, and one year I went on a freedom talk, have not been recognized, and at all factored in in any of those decisions. So I do think that the U.S. should not give up on trying to use the Internet for promoting democracy. Whether I would label it Internet Freedom Agenda, I dont know. I probably wouldnt. Again, we dont have to reject the project of trying to promote democracy in the (inaudible) to criticize George Bushs freedom agenda. I think we shouldnt feel restrained to criticize the Internet freedom agenda just because, you know, it may somehow make us seem as we oppose the whole project. I dont oppose the project. I do think that there are certain noble ideas in trying to use the Internet to open up many of those countries. Its just that the way in which it has been put together, I think, has been clumsy, and it will probably backfire on many occasions. So all I want to do is just to have a more sound, realistic and kind of contact-sensitive context and approach, which has been missing. I dont know if it sounds too general, but I think Ill sound too offensive if I go into too many details. MS. NELSON: Well, I also worry about the practitioners. You know, in Egypt, for example, most bloggers are males between the ages of 20 and 30 logically, and after the 2008 protests, a lot of them were arrested, and they had been encouraged by this international community to take a stand, and thats admirable. A lot of them were put in prison and some of them were treated with extreme brutality. Some of them are still in prison, and I really worry that here in the West, were encouraging this foment of often admirable activity, but then not really stepping up to the plate and defending their rights once the crackdowns happen. There's an excellent report that just came out from CIMA in Washington about the Internet in the Middle East that makes this point. I feel that if were going to be part of this international agenda, the agenda to protect human rights should be very much part of it. MR. MALCOMSON: I mean one of the sort of things that keeps coming up in different forums is the question of anonymity as well, and you know, I can remember in earlier web days, when the, you know, like the cartoon said, you know, no one on the Internet knows youre a dog. That was such a deep part of the attraction, and I think it was a deep part of the attraction for a lot of people who were working on it, that it was this place where you could become somebody else, and the story of the last kind of seven or eight years has been that with different forces, commercial forces, I would say, more powerfully than political or state forces, wanting to be able to identify who you are, that you have to be a single person in order to have a single credit card number or a single position within your political society. MS. NELSON: The government in Vietnam is using Trojans to track people and their web accounts, to look at dissident sites. MR. MOROZOV: You know, I think now if you have to do that cartoon now, you would probably have to put, you know, except NSA. Because again, I think that we do have to understand, and I think thats something that we havent touched upon yet. We do have to understand the connection between the domestic policy and the domestic development, when it comes to, you know, Internet freedom or Internet control in the foreign policy developments. Again, if you look at what the United States has been trying to do, in the foreign policy context, it has all been about promoting Internet freedom, you know, telling China that they should not go and harass their own Internet companies, and force them to delete stuff off their servers and delete posts of dissidents. Then you enter in the Wikileaks, and you have Joe Lieberman going and saying exactly the same thing to Amazon, and asking them to basically take the same act that youd probably criticize were it to happen in China. And of all people, Lieberman actually is on the Senate Internet Freedom Caucus, and so he is kind of representing, you know, the face of freedom in the U.S. I think there are little questions like this about whats happening domestically in America, that make a lot of people abroad extremely if not skeptical, but maybe hypocritical. Well, I mean they do think that the U.S. is hypocritical. So I mean they are not extremely, you know, they dont trust, lets put it that way. They dont trust the Internet Freedom Agenda of the United States, in part because they dont think its sincere. Because again, they look at whats happening domestically here with the head of FBI touring Silicon Valley companies, trying to convince them that they need to build secret back doors into their software, to make it easier to monitor what their clients are saying online, you know. You look at other developments in the realm of intellectual property online. The U.S. has not been the strongest supporter to Internet freedom, and thats what I think concerns many people, because they think again, its double standards, and I think eventually the fact that the Internet Freedom Agenda is -- well, when you think about it in the foreign context, its so idealistic. It does set up a lot of traps for the U.S., because it just sets up expectations so high about the U.S. own behavior domestically, just will never be met and will make America look again extremely hypocritical in the eyes of its partners. MR. WALT: I think that also tells you a lot about why the sort of what Evgeny calls cyber utopianism is so seductive here in the United States. We sort of assume, because we think that were the greatest country in the world and everything works perfectly over here, that if other countries arent like us, its because they dont have enough information yet. If they did, they would want to be just like us, or because somebody is repressing them, and if we can find a way to knock those laws down, then they will become just like us, all right. What we dont understand is first of all, even if these things were happening, most other societies wont become just like us. Theyll become just like them, in some different way than they are today, but not necessarily imitating us. Second, we dont understand that there is a dark side here in the United States as well, where we also worry about security. We sometimes go overboard in our concerns about it, and we end up looking quite hypocritical in the eyes of others. But nonetheless, you know, the people who are cyber utopians never worry about some FBI guy coming and knocking on their door. Tom Friedman is not concerned that hes going to get hauled in because hes doing the wrong thing with his computer, at least I dont think so, and similarly, you know, other people like that. MR. MALCOMSON: Yes, absolutely, absolutely, and you forget that, and then you make decisions on their behalf, then saying that they bear the consequences. MR. DEBENY: Hello, my name is Jeffrey Debeny, and I just have a question for anybody on the panel. It was mentioned earlier that over the past couple of weeks, now in some of these 70 other countries that could have had a revolt and havent, could the technologies that were discussing now -- they could be used by these repressive regimes. Could their use of these technologies, the social media technologies, could they be attributed in some sense into why some of these other countries havent experienced the same type of revolutions youve seen in Tunisia or Egypt or even to the level of protesting you saw in Yemen? MR. MOROZOV: Well, I think that would be also kind of falling into the other extreme of, you know, when we -- when cyber utopians think that the Internet discloses everything, you know, and when democracy happens, its because enough people were on Twitter, you know, I think its as easy to fall into that extreme in saying that. The only reason why dictatorships are still around is because they have mastered the art of technology. Again, thats not something that Im arguing, and I dont think Ill ever be arguing that. Again, there are certain problems, unemployment, you know, turmoil, social, cultural, political turmoil that you would never solve, even if you upload every single movie that was ever made in Hollywood on the You Tube, and force your young population to just sit there and watch them. Again, if they feel hungry and they dont have a job, thats not going to work. So I mean obviously we should not expect that the Internet will also help all those governments to stay in power forever. It wouldnt. Again, no one has cancelled politics and they cannot make (inaudible), and I dont think, you know, it will happen any time soon. The other thing which I think is worth keeping in mind is that we do not really hear about protests that fail that were also organized on Facebook. I mean you barely saw any headlines about the failure of the Facebook group in Syria to get as many people as in Egypt and Tunisia into the streets of Damascus a few days ago. And yes, there was a Facebook group. There was a lot of online activity. They were supposed to go out, I think, a few days ago, and people failed to turn up. They didnt have the same numbers as they were expecting, based on their online activity. Of course those stories are not reported to the same extent that the more positive stories are, and end up with this sort of picture that, you know, as long as people are organizing online, and as long as enough of them join the Facebook group, you know, we should expect something to happen. And in most cases, nothing happens unfortunately. We just dont hear that as often. MR. MALCOMSON: Thats true in Sudan as well, I mean but in that case, you had people going out, a relatively small number of people in Khartoum, and just getting beaten up with clubs. MR. MOROZOV: What happened in Sudan was actually eve more terrifying. The security forces actually used some of the same tools, Facebook and text messaging to publicize some of the protests, and then they arrested everyone who would show up. So they actually deliberately used those tools to disseminate information that was not only false, but was also disseminated deliberately to arrest the people who were the recipients. So yes. I mean -- MR. WALT: This is a really important point. It was a great question because even if there is a sort of long-term, centuries-long secular trend towards more representative forms of government, if that is true, theres a strategic interaction going on here between lets call them sort of authoritarian forces and more pro-democratic forces, and each side learns from the other and adapts and, you know, the old pitch and catch game. So you can bet that there are authoritarian leaders who are watching whats happening in various parts of the world, and when they see something like Tunisia and Egypt happen, they say okay, well I dont want that to happen to me. What do I have to do to this menu of options I have? What do I have to do to the various social forces? Maybe Ill accommodate a little bit, Ill repress a little bit here, and each side learns from the other, and can use technology in various ways. So even if theres a long-term secular trend, you ought to expect to see an awful lot of peaks and valleys, as each side adapts to a changing environment and to the experiences that they observe. MS. NELSON: And I think its fascinating to talk about China in this context, because some years ago China decided that rather than spend all of their time censoring U.S.-based sites, theyd set up a parallel universe. So you dont have lots of Chinese on Facebook. You have a Chinese Facebook with lots of Chinese people on it. You have their own microblogs instead of Twitter. It is based in China and it goes through Chinese filters. So its built into the very foundations of the platforms. You still have the cat and mouse game. Youve got some 30,000 or more cyber cops in China chasing the people using, you know, illegal terms. When I was in Hong Kong last week, they said the Chinese winner of the Nobel Peace Prize was microblogged by spelling it P-I-E-C-E, right. If you misspelled peace, it could get through the filter for five minutes until they catch you, and then you change it again. And so at first I was kind of transfixed by this spectacle, and then I realized that there was some intentionality there. I teach a course at Columbia called New Media and Development Communications, and I have a lot of Chinese students who are there on government scholarships, doing Internet research here. There's obviously a hand-picked elite, English-speaking Chinese group who learn about the Internet in the world. Im sure you have them at Harvard as well. They know no bounds of censorship, and they are groomed for leadership, to know the world. But this is not a privilege thats extended to the masses, who can assemble in Tiananmen Square. So it is tiered access, and I think its quite deliberate. MR. MOROZOV: I think the question of lessons that other regimes will learn from Tunisia and Egypt is a very important one, and I think looking at what happened in Egypt was them turning off the Internet. I think again, many other governments will want to solve the problem of having an Internet kill switch. Again, there will be much more thought and work being put into trying to figure out how you can actually turn off the systems much faster. I mean if anything, I would argue that the Egyptians were three days too late. They turned off the Internet on January 27th, when all of the planning for the protest happened on Facebook on January 23rd and 24th, for the big protest on January 25th. So in some sense, turning off the Internet was not as effective as it could have been had they done it earlier. But now if you think about it from the perspective of other governments, it would be very easy for them to do it, because thats what the United States government wants to do with its own plans for an Internet kill switch, which again ironically were announced on the very same day as, you know, Egypt turned off the Internet. You had Senators Collins and Lieberman actually floating the idea of an Internet kill switch. And again, now the fact that its happening in America will just make the plans of the Russians, the Chinese and the Iranians look much more legitimate, because theyll say we just need it for an emergency situation. When another stock snap hits, we want to have a button to turn it all off, and theyll do it pretty effectively and theyll even bring in some of American experts to, you know, make the transition smoother and give them advice on how to do it more cost-effectively. MS. NELSON: The technology is racing so quickly. Again, as I said, Egypt has 80 million people, a million on broadband. Cellphone penetration now exceeds 80 million. So its over 100 percent penetration. Egyptians may have two cellphones. As you move onto mobile platforms, its going to be harder and harder to pull the switch. MR. MOROZOV: Well, all of them are turned off. All of those 80 million are turned off by water pump. MS. NELSON: True. But how long can you have a country with no telephones? MR. MOROZOV: Well, as long as you have commercial companies providing that, for a very long time. MS. NELSON: True, but everything else grinds to a halt. So theres a real dilemma here for the governments. MR. MALCOMSON: We have two questions from the Twitter feed, which is Hashtag Ask Open Society. Thats hash tag Ask Open Society. One following on from the conversation just concluded was what do we know about how successful the Egyptian governments efforts to shut down social media were, and what does that tell us about the power dynamic of the Internet. Question 2 is a counter-intuitive one. It asks whether cyber utopian, kind of Panglossian assumptions on the part of governments and activists, might arise from technophobic instincts, rather than the opposite? MR. MOROZOV: Well, on the first question, I think the Egyptians were not particularly picky. They just turned off the entire thing, and they did not shut down access to Facebook or the Twitter. They deliberately turned off the entire network, which I think probably was as sure a way as it gets to spread this, you know, to stop the spread of information. Tunisians, on the other hand, were trying to block particular websites, against Facebook, Daily Motion (ph), You Tube, Twitter, not very successfully. What was interesting to me, and that tells us again about the resilience of many of those governments and their sophistication in this field, you actually had the Tunisian government trying to hijack the passwords of every Facebook user in the country, by planting some malicious codes into what are the DNS settings of its main Internet service provider in the country. So for 6 or 12 hours, they were actually trying to harvest the log-in details of every Tunisian in Tunisia who was trying to log in into Facebook, and that was happening, you know, a few weeks or a week before Ben Ali was ousted. So they definitely still had the capability and the will to engage in all of that. Again, that might tell us that theyre just very poor at predicting their own future. But the government wasnt anyhow. Their ability to control the space wasnt weakened by technology. It wasnt that, you know, its the protest about their ability to turn off or turn on, you know, the switches for Twitter. No. It was the fact that the Army switched sides that eventually, you know, led to democratic change in Tunisia. It was not the fact that the government got so weak that they couldnt control the Internet. The week before the government fell, the government was very aggressive and very successful in controlling parts of the web. With regards to the second question, whether it comes from technophobia, you know, I mean there is certainly -- I mean I dont think that all of those people are technophobic who are, you know, senior decision-makers, all of whom I quote in the book. I dont think theyre technophobic. They seem to be naive, again, not just about technology but about politics in general, and democracy promotion project in general, and again, operating on many of the assumptions that are outdated. So I dont think that they necessarily, you know, that -- again, some of it is wishful thinking, thinking that you know, blogs and Twits, just because they havent failed yet, will do better than, you know, supporting political parties or NGOs or whatever else has been tried in many of those countries. So there is, I think, that element of hoping that the Internet can finally deliver what many other tools havent. I think that expectation is there. But you know, I dont think that there is that much technophobia. Like I dont link it to cyber utopianism. I mean its a very counter-intuitive link, as youve suggested. MR. WALT: Id actually like to ask Evgeny a question, sort of following from that last one. You argue for trying to integrate the technological component of foreign policy with the actual foreign policy expertise, with the regional expertise. Dont have a sort of separate Internet diplomacy office, but rather have it with the country bureaus, with the regional bureaus. MR. MOROZOV: Thats the idealistic that I mentioned in my thinking. MR. WALT: Well, at least thats what you suggest, that thats where it ought to be housed. MR. MOROZOV: Yes. MR. WALT: I wonder if theres sort of an interesting generational problem here. My basic sense is the older you are, the less you understand about whats going on, all right. My children, like everyone elses children, no far more about whats happening in the Internet and social media universe than I do, and Ive been trying to sort of keep up with it. In order to be an ambassador, in order to be the desk officer, in order to be a senior regional bureau chief, youre not young. Youre likely to be someone in your 40s or your 50s, and so I think it may be tempting for policymakers to say okay, I need an Internet diplomacy dimension. Let me find some 21 year-old who understands this stuff and put her in charge of it, not the 45 year-old who actually knows a lot about Egypt or Pakistan or wherever. And the question is how do you integrate those two things in the bureaucratic context of the State Department or the Pentagon or the National Security Council, as a practical matter? MR. WALT: If I can just sort of add something to that. I mean first of all, your description of what happened is literally what happened in Washington, D.C. I mean its like a documentary record of what happened in Washington, in terms of, you know, finding younger people and so on. Another element in that, and I think a very important one, is some of the Silicon Valley companies, which are very large and very, very profitable, dont have a lot of political experience, but are huge social players, as well as huge political donors, and have developed a real interest in the last few years, thinking wow, you know. Maybe, you know, I solve this, maybe I can solve that problem of human politics as well, you know. Theyre really -- I mean some are more naive than others. MR. MALCOMSON: And worth a gazillion dollars. MR. WALT: But theyre really, you know, there is a real push from that end as well. MR. MOROZOV: Sure. Well you know, I dont think of it as -- I dont think you need a Ph.D. in Internet Studies to understand the Internet, right. I mean again, I think on the face of it, its very simple. It reduces costs in terms of access to information, and it facilitates collective action, as Ive said. You know, any 25 year-old will know how to use Twitter and Facebook at this point, right. So its not like you really need to go and search for bright kids who get social media. I mean at this point, most of them do, right. Some of them still actually happen to have some regional experience, or at least they aspire to get some regional experience. So I dont think that, you know, the people who have been in charge so far are necessarily, you know, the cutting edge thinkers in terms of social media or the Internet, because I dont think there is much cutting edge thinking to be done, those decisions about the Internet. There is absolutely a lot of cutting edge thinking to be done about foreign policy at large, but you know, there is not that -- again, you know, I make for a poor technology critic, but theres not that much thinking to be done about, you know, what the Internet does and what its doing in the abstract, right. But I think, and I should give the State Department credit here. They have been trying to introduce courses on social media to their Foreign Service Institute, whatever trainings that they run for ambassadors, for their personnel. Now of course it takes a lot of time. I think some of the initiatives they have been doing have been helpful, but I think Im okay with a lot of those young people being integrated and brought on board, as long as, you know, their bosses understand the consequences, right. As long as they understand that many of those decisions, which just seem to be about the (inaudible), and not to be about something else, and they end up influencing U.S. foreign policy on Iran to an extent that was never intended by, you know, people who created this nice incubator for innovation. The role of companies in this, I think, is also very interesting, because I also think it has been somewhat under-theorized in the State Department. There has been very little thought being put into the fact that many of this platforms is for digital activism, which now have been used in Egypt, in Tunisia and in Iran, that they are American companies, and American companies stand to have certain -- you know, people tend to have certain biases towards American companies, simply because theyre American. Those biases do not disappear. They probably get even worse when they see those companies get too close to some of the same people who run the social media business in the State Department. So again, I think (inaudible), but there has to be a realization that probably, you know, we dont want to present Twitter and Facebook as digital equivalents of Radio Free Europe, in part because they arent and they have their own commercial agendas, and in part because it will probably result in many of those governments taking counter-measures against those companies, which will again hurt the American capacity to use those platforms to promote democratic values. We will end up with the Chinese situation, where all of those companies will be replaced by local domestic services, which will be far easier for the government to control, simply because (inaudible) they can be run by locals, and its just much easier to pressure them without generating any buzz in the international media, compared to Facebook and Google and Twitter. MR. MALCOMSON: We have a tweeted question. Would you say that if unquestioned, modern media could create anew imperialism, and then Id like to follow up with a question of my own, which is Evgeny, one of the central premises in your book is that the most vexing social problems are generally impervious to quick technological fixes. The reason for that is that they touch on questions of power, who holds power, how power is exercised, how power is challenged, in other words, politics. Put simply, you say that the medium isnt the message; the message is the message. So the question I have, and maybe Ill direct this at Anne Nelson, is media studies obsolete in the era of Morozov? MR. WALT: Even though hes not a media studies person? MS. NELSON: Not at all. Media studies really needs upgrading to at least 2.0 and probably 3.0, and I would love to see more universities really take these subjects on in a serious way and an interdisciplinary way. My foundation friends use the term silo a lot, and Im afraid in universities it reaches fatal proportions, where you have computer science, you have international affairs. Youre not allowed to sit at the same table because I dont know why. But social media is so powerful and so dynamic that we need everybody at the table. It reaches into every area of life. What I see as the biggest issue is the one of triage. I see us moving as a culture from books to blogs to tweets, where everything becomes more compressed, and people pretend that each platform carries the same information, short bits carry less and different information than others. Its faster. So for sports scores and stock prices and so on, tweets are fantastic. If youre looking at issues like corruption in the Iraqi regime or who will fill the leadership vacuum in Egypt, you need legacy media, you need academia, you need long form, and you cant substitute one for the other. So I think that when people get very exuberant about social media, they lose sight of that. We need more investment in these studies; we need more investment in the legacy media that produces a lot of the content that is recycled online. So thats my opinion. MR. MOROZOV: On the question of imperialism, I dont see it as a particularly troublesome problem. You know, you can argue that the whole project of trying to promote democracy is imperialistic to begin with, so the entire enterprise needs to be scrutinized (inaudible). I mean Im not in that camp. To me, its very interesting to study why in certain countries you end up with, you know, people using local alternatives to global sites, and in some countries like Egypt, you end up with a lot of the locals on Facebook and American sites, and you know, and studying how the changes, how they interact with each other, and whether those sites have different norms, which they do, you know. On questions like freedom of expression, Facebook (inaudible) probably takes a stronger position than many of the Chinese alternatives to Facebook, right, and so that question, I think, would be very interesting to explore. I dont see anything wrong per se in having so many local users, you know, find a home on American sites, in part because for all the subtle imperialism that those websites might be promoting, they just end up with a much more, you know, freer kind of culture, which is much more conducive to democratic debate than many of the local alternatives. So Im less concerned with the imperialistic fears that some people have. MR. WALT: Now that weve gotten under imperialism, Im back on my home ground. (Laughter.) MR. WALT: No. I think that in a sense the danger that one might worry about has already been refuted by history. If there was going to be a country that was going to be able to establish some kind of new imperialistic control of the world, using among its various tools its influence in the Internet world, its position as a content provider, its technological sophistication, it would have been the United States of America, which is, I think again, part of why you got some of that cyber utopianism back in the 90s, when everyone thought the United States was the 800 pound gorilla that could do nothing wrong. I think what weve seen over the last 20 years is the steady erosion of that vision, of American power not disappearing by any means, but by being constrained in a whole variety of different ways in a whole variety of different places. Just to take the most vivid recent event, no one is viewing, or at least not very many people, are viewing whats happened in Egypt as a sign of the further assertion of American power. This revolt, uprising, whatever, is seen as a threat, in fact, to the Pax Americana thats been in the Middle East for 30 or 40 or 50 years. We dont know how its going to turn out, but it seems to me it suggests that to the extent that new media or the Internet played some role in this, and we still dont know how big its contribution was, its not an assertion of control from Washington. Its if anything, Washington now trying to, you know, stick the cork back in the bottle as politely as it can, so that it doesnt have to deal with a set of unruly countries that might threaten some of its other concerns in the region. MS. NELSON: And I dont think that you can leave out the grassroots elements to all of this. Theres the State Department, theres the tech companies, and then there is this marvelous creature with many heads, which is the online environment. You have terrific projects like Global Voices, which pulls blogs from all over the world and translates them into many different languages, and allows you to kind of have this window on lots of parts of global experience that were just totally impossible when I was in college. There was just no way to figure out what was going on in the world with the same breadth and richness that we have now. So while I certainly subscribe to so many of Evgenys caveats, I also share with him the belief in the dream. I think that the United States as an open society has encouraged a lot of whats best in this environment too. MR. MALCOMSON: Go ahead. MR. MOROZOV: Sorry. Youll get your dose of capitalism. (Laughter.) MR. MOROZOV: But you know again, if I look at some of the early cyber utopian discourse, and if you look at some of the assumptions there, there was clearly an expectation that once all of the Chinese and Indians and Russians and Iranians get online, they will be directly exposed to American power. They will all rush to download American movies, they will all start communicating with Americans and Americans will tell them what democracy is really like, and they will go and demand it in the streets of, you know, Tehran or Beijing. I think that just hasnt played out that way. Again, we are seeing a lot of local content being more much more popular for the local populations, right, whether its local films, whether its local music, whether its just local interactions with, you know, the people who sit next door with Americans in online chats. So it would actually be a fascinating study to look at the sort of geographical distance, you know, between people who chat online in some of those countries. I bet that most of them are chatting to people who are just sitting next door and not on another continent, right. So in some sense, I think there was a world of assumptions that yes, it will help to spread American ideals and American power through these platforms, and I just dont think it has worked out that way. Again, as the world of local content has been digitalized, we have seen a lot of people turn actually to more nationalistic content, rather than sort of cosmopolitan, you know, statements or even Global Voices, which I fear is mostly run by people in sort of in America. MS. NELSON: I think Americans need to listen to the world more, and its helped us do that. MR. MOROZOV: Yes, sure, sure. But again, its kind of -- you know, Americans reading Global Voices, not Global Voices per se would be a much more appropriate pattern. MS. NELSON: Early days. MR. MALCOMSON: Do we have time for another question? VOICE: I think were good. MR. MALCOMSON: All right. Well, I have to say I think the promise of the Open Society Fellows Program has been met. I mean listening to you talk about early Internet reminded me in some ways in which, and I hope I wont offend anybody, but that the kind of NGO world frequently thinks that all free expression leads to people all saying what the NGO people want them to say in the first place. The Open Society Institute has really kind of been counter to that, and youre a wonderful example. So its a sincere if somewhat multi-edged compliment, both to you and to the Institute. Thank you, Steve. This is fantastic. MR. WALT: Thank you. MR. MOROZOV: Thank you, Scott. MR. MALCOMSON: And thanks to our distinguished panel, Stephen Walt, Anne Nelson, Evgeny Morozov and our moderator, Scott Malcomson, and to our audience here and online. (Applause.) (Whereupon, the panel discussion was concluded.)