1 February 2006
12 Cartoons (Example 1, Example 2) posted in a Danish newspaper last September (10/30/2005) and thereafter caused a series of aftershocks which are felt now - 4 months later. Although the newspaper received a bomb threat right after the day of publishing and money was awarded for the execution of the cartoonist the real uprage just started this week with reports and reprints of the Mohammed cartoons all over Europe.
While we don't want to join the discussion on freedom of speech, making jokes about one's own God and the like, we would rather take a look at the network aspect of it. Although 11 amabassadors of islamic countries publicly protested about this and 5000 muslims marched through the streets of Copenhagen it took 3 months until this was fully recognized in the Arabic and international community. Why did it take so long, although media reported and all types of ICT's were utilized?
Let us take an "information diffusion" and "social network" perspective. One might argue that today social networks are so dense that information spreads quickly by any means (internet, blogs, wom etc), especially when the topic is potentially critical. According to our theories we would have expected that Arabic communities are very well connected so that news from Denmark rapidly diffused throughout the Islamic world. Also, we would have thought that ambassadors act as "information hubs" in their societies, and thus reactions would have occured much earlier.
So what happend to the "news" within the last 3 months? Did it take so long until a critical mass was built to react? Shall we assume that, based on powerlaw, it took 3 months to reach a consent within the strongest 20% of the Islamic community? Along these lines this would mean that 20% of the latter community gives us the feeling that the other 80% think simillarly. Is it really like that, or what might be other explanations for our observation?
This post is a collaborative effort with Thomas Langenberg.
Posted by Alexander Schellong at February 1, 2006 2:44 PM