Maybe. From Gutenberg to pre-Revolutionary pamphleteers to the Internet, increasing the access to information has been a catalyst for change. Yesterday, Steve Corman looked at this question and noted that
[w]hile Facebook played an important role in the development of the protest march, it can be better described as a catalyst than a cause.
The media, formal and informal, new and old, is the oxygen both terrorist and counter-terrorist movements require to exist and thrive. The advantage of the latter over the former is truth, transparency, and promising futures. New Media’s ability to engage, mobilize, and empower transcends geography and time. It simultaneously reaches locally and globally, providing instant and “time-shifted” access to text, pictures, and videos. It also fosters trusting peer relationships that add credibility to messages and the movement itself.
Today, the State Department announced an event to facilitate more catalysts for change:
Facebook, Google, YouTube, MTV, Howcast, Columbia Law School and the U.S. Department of State Convene the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit
Dec. 3-5 Summit in New York to Bring Together Global Youth Groups, Tech Experts to Find Best Ways to Use Digital Media to Promote Freedom and Justice, Counter Violence, Extremism and Oppression
New York, NY, November 18, 2008—Facebook, Google, YouTube, MTV, Howcast, Columbia Law School, the U.S. Department of State and Access 360 Media are bringing leaders of 17 pioneering organizations from 15 countries together with technology experts next month in New York for the first-ever conclave to empower youth against violence and oppression through the use of the latest online tools.
Rising star Jared Cohen (author of Children of Jihad: A Young American’s Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East) is a major force behind this event. The rest of the press release is below the fold.